Gaelic Education in Glasgow
Foghlam Gàidhlig ann an Glaschu

Tha Gàidheil air a bhith ag ionnsachadh ’s a’ teagasg ann an sgoiltean a’ bhaile airson ceudan de bhliadhnaichean, ach is ann sa ghinealach làithreach a tha teagasg air a bhith tro mheadhan na Gàidhlig seach Beurla. Tha eisimpleir tràth ann an cumadh John Dow, tidsear ann an Àrd-Sgoil Gràmair (a-nis Ard-Sgoil Ghlaschu) bho na 1760an, aig an robh cliù mar smachdair cruaidh. Aig an àm sin, bha an sgoil air a roinn ann an ceithir chlasaichean: Coilich, Cearcan, Eireagan agus Iseanan. Bha Dow an urra ris na Cearcan, mu ochdad sgoilear gu h-iomlan.

Gaels have taught and studied at the city’s schools for hundreds of years, but only in the current generation has the medium of instruction been Gaelic rather than English. An early example was John Dow, teacher at the Grammar School (now the High School of Glasgow) from the 1760s, who was infamous as a strict disciplinarian. At that time the school was divided into four classes: Cocks, Hens, Earocks (Gaelic eireag ‘pullet’) and Chickens. Dow as in charge of the Hens, a total of about eighty pupils.

The Glasgow Highland Society was founded in 1727 by the wealthier urban Gaels to support the education of Highland boys in the town and put them to trades. By the 1780s the school was taking in 20 boys a year and providing them with education and apprenticeships, and clothing them if needed. By the 1840s the school was educating 600 children, male and female, under 4 teachers. There was a close connection with the city’s Gaelic chapels and a concern for the children’s moral welfare. Members of the society would recognise the children by their distinctive uniforms and intervene if they saw them in the town behaving inappropriately. The goal was to integrate them into English-speaking society and all instruction was through English. Girls were taught reading, writing and arithmetic, and ‘the branches of female industry’, in preparation for becoming ‘respectable servant maids’. The school was funded by society subscription and by the revenue of the famous Black Bull Inn on Argyle Street, built by the Society in 1759 expressly for the purpose of supporting the school.

The curriculum at the Highland Society school, as at other schools in the city was resolutely in English, but for a very brief period there was some Gaelic-medium education in the city. From 1812-14, John Monro, a native of Creich, taught children to read the scriptures in Gaelic at a school in the High Street and another in the Gorbals (precise locations unknown). This experiment was short-lived, however, as the classes were discontinued through fear that instruction in Gaelic would prevent the children learning English. Monro, who published a number of books in Gaelic, went on to become an accountant in the city and it was 171 years before Gaelic was once again used as the language of instruction in Glasgow schools.

Pupil from the Highland Society's School, Glasgow

Chuireadh Comann Gàidhealach Ghlaschu air bhon ann an 1727 leis na Gàidheil a bu bheairtich sa bhaile gus taic a chur ri foghlam balaich Ghàidhealach sa bhaile agus an cur a dh’obair air ceàird. Anns na 1780an, bha an sgoil a’ toirt a-steach 20 balach sa bhliadhna agus a’ toirt dhaibh foghlam is preantasachdan, agus aodach nam biodh feum aca air. Anns na 1840an bha an sgoil ag oideachadh 600 pàiste, fireann is boireann, le 4 tidsearan. Bha ceangal dlùth le caibealan Gàidhlig a’ bhaile agus dragh mu shochairean moralta na cloinne. Bha buill a’ chomainn ag aithneachadh na cloinne air an èideadh-sgoile, agus dhèanadh iad eadar-theachd nam faiceadh iad a’ chlann sa bhaile agus iad ri mì-mhodh. B’ e an t-amas an amalachadh a-steach don cho-chomann Bheurla agus bha an teagasg uile tro mheadhan na Beurla. Bhathar a’ teagasg leughadh, sgrìobhadh agus àireamhachd do na nigheanan agus ‘meuran de ghnìomhachas bhoireannach’, gan ullachadh airson a bhith nan ‘searbhantan creideasach’. Bha an sgoil air a maoineachadh tro shìnteasan a’ chomainn agus tro theachd-a-steach an Taigh-sheinnse Black Bull air Sràid Earra-Ghàidheal a thog an Comann ann an 1759 a dh’aon ghnothaich airson taic a chur ris an sgoil.

By 2018 there were over 900 pupils in Gaelic-medium education in Glasgow with demand projected to reach 1,250 by 2021

Tha sgeul foghlam sgoile ann an Glaschu ga innse ann an Taigh-tasgaidh Sgoil Sràid Alba a lorgar anns an togalach sgoile eireachdail a bha mar an coimisean mòr mu dheireadh aig Teàrlach Rennie Mac an Tòisich (1906-3). Suas gu 1979, bha an sgoil a’ frithealadh na cloinne à sgìre Tradeston, far an robh àireamh shusbainteach de dhaoine le Gàidhlig, mòran dhiubh an ceann an cosnaidh sna gàrraidhean-iarainn agus ag adhradh ann an Eaglais Ghàidhlig UF Tradeston air oisean Sràid Kingston agus Sràid Commerce.

 

The story of school education in Glasgow is told at the Scotland Street School Museum, housed in the magnificent former school building which was Charles Rennie Macintosh’s last major commission (1906-3). Up until 1979 the school served the children of Tradeston, which had a substantial Gaelic-speaking population, many of whom were employed in the shipyards and worshipped in the Tradeston Gaelic UF Church on the corner of Kingston St and Commerce St.

The Education (Scotland) Act 1872 had made primary education universal and mandatory in Scotland and imposed English as the only medium of instruction. The teaching of or through the medium of Gaelic was banned, and children were physically punished and humiliated for speaking it. This official Scottish and British government policy of Anglicisation denigrated the value of Gaelic language and culture, and eroded self-respect among Gaelic-speaking communities. It gave further licence to Lowland hostility and mockery of Gaelic and many parents came to see the language as a holding their children back and decided not to pass it on. More than a century later, the negative psychological effect of this on both sides lingers on.

‘MacOolachan and ta Pone’ (1890), Mockery of Gaelic-speakers in the weekly Glasgow periodical the Bailie, founded in 1872. ‘MacOolachan’ and ‘Auchtray McTavish the Heilan Polisman’ were regularly the butt of its jokes.

Bha Achd an Fhoghlaim (Alba) 1872 air foghlam bun-sgoile a dhèanamh uile-choitcheann agus àithnteil ann an Alba, a’ sparradh Beurla a-mhàin mar an t-aon mheadhan teagaisg. Bha teagasg air Gàidhlig no tro mheadhan na Gàidhlig air a thoirmeasg, agus bha clann gam peanasachadh gu corporra agus air an tàmailteachadh airson a labhairt. Bha am poileasaidh oifigeil seo bho Riaghaltas Alba agus Bhreatainn a thaobh na Beurla, a’ dèanamh dìmeas air luach cànan is cultar na Gàidhlig, agus a’ crìonadh fèin-spèis am measg nan coimhearsnachdan Gàidhlig. Thug e barrachd cead do nàimhdeas nan Gall is magadh air a’ Ghàidhlig agus thàinig mòran de na pàrantan gu bhith a’ faicinn a’ chànain mar chnap-starra a’ cumail an cuid chloinne air ais agus cho-dhùin iad gun an cànan a thoirt dhaibh. Barrachd air ceud bliadhna às dèidh sin, tha a’ bhuaidh àicheil saidhc-eòlach sin a’ leantainn air adhart.

Only a minority of pupils come from homes where Gaelic is the main language, although many parents have connections to the Highlands and Islands.

Cha b’ ann gu 1985 a chaidh foghlam tro mheadhan na Gàidhlig a thairgsinn an toiseach ann an Alba, a’ leantainn iomairteachd sheasmach bho phàrantan is daoine eile air feadh na dùthcha, ach gu h-àraid ann an Glaschu. On uair sin, tha Comhairle a’ Bhaile air a bhith taiceil do sholar foghlam tro mheadhan na Gàidhlig, agus ann am mòran dòighean, tha Glaschu air an t-slighe a stiùireadh gu nàiseanta.

Chaidh aonad foghlaim tro mheadhan na Gàidhlig a chur air bhonn ann am Bun-sgoil Sir Iain Maxwell ann am Pollokshaws ann an 1985, agus chaidh solar àrd-sgoile a chur ris às dèidh sin ann an Àrd-Sgoil Hillpark. Lean pàrantan air adhart ag iomairt airson sgoil Ghàidhlig agus fhuaireadh seo ann an 1999 nuair a chaidh a’ chiad sgoil ainmichte tro mheadhan na Gàidhlig, Bun-sgoil Ghàidhlig Ghlaschu, fhosgladh air Sràid Ashley. Dh’fhàs an sgoil glè luath chun na h-ìre far an robh e riatanach gluasad gu togalach nas motha air Sràid Berkeley ann an 2006. A bharrachd air a’ bhun-sgoil agus an sgoil-àraich, bha Sgoil Ghàidhlig ùr Ghlaschu a’ gabhail a-steach àrd-sgoil ainmichte, a chaidh an àite an aonaid ann an Hillpark. Bha seo a’ ciallachadh gun robh airson a’ chiad turas ann an Alba, foghlam tro mheadhan na Gàidhlig ri fhaotainn ann an sgoil ainmichte bho aois 3-18. Ged a tha iomain, seinn ann an Gàidhlig, ceòl traidiseanta agus eileamaidean eile de chultar na Gàidhlig air am brosnachadh agus gu dearbh a’ soirbheachadh, tha an sgoil a’ teagasg a’ churraicealaim choitchinn, agus tha an cuideam ga chur air luchd-labhairt na Gàidhlig ullachadh airson an àite a ghabhail ann an saoghal nuadh-aimsireil ioma-chultarach. ’S e suaicheantas na sgoile ‘Dà chànan, dà chultar, iomadh cothrom’.

It was not until 1985 that Gaelic-medium education was first offered in Scotland, following prolonged campaigning from parents and others throughout the country, but especially in Glasgow. Since then the City Council has been supportive of Gaelic medium provision, and, in many respects, Glasgow has led the way nationally.

A Gaelic-medium unit was established in Sir John Maxwell Primary School, Pollokshaws in 1985 and secondary provision was added subsequently via a unit at Hillpark Secondary School. Parents continued to campaign for a stand-alone Gaelic school, and this was achieved in 1999 when Scotland’s first dedicated Gaelic-medium school, Bun-sgoil Ghàidhlig Ghlaschu (Glasgow Gaelic Primary School) was opened at Ashley Street. The school quickly grew to the point where it was necessary to relocate to larger premises on Berkeley Street in 2006. In addition to the primary school and a pre-school nursery, the new Sgoil Ghàidhlig Ghlaschu (Glasgow Gaelic School) included a dedicated secondary school, which replaced the Hillpark unit. This meant that for the first time in Scotland, Gaelic-medium education was available at a dedicated school from ages 3-18. Although shinty, Gaelic singing, traditional music, and other elements of Gaelic culture are encouraged and indeed flourish, the school teaches the standard curriculum, and the emphasis is on preparing Gaelic-speakers to take their place in a modern multi-cultural world. The school’s motto is ‘Da chànan, dà chultar, iomadh chothrom’ (‘Two languages, two cultures, many opportunities’).

 

Aig toiseach gnothaich, bha an sgoil a’ frithealadh a’ bhaile gu h-iomlan, agus aig ìre àrd-sgoile a’ gabhail a-steach clann bho ùghdarrasan ionadail eile. An taobh a-staigh deich bliadhna, bha an sgoil air fàs ro làn agus mar sin dh’fhosgail a’ Chomhairle bun-sgoil ùr ann an 2016 gus taobh an ear-dheas a’ bhaile a fhrithealadh, Bun-sgoil Ghàidhlig Ghleann Dail air Sràid Kenmure. Ann an 2018, bha còrr air 900 sgoilear ann am foghlam tro mheadhan na Gàidhlig ann an Glaschu, le iarrtas air ro-innse gu 1,250 a ruighinn ro 2021 agus tha a’ Chomhairle gu làithreach an sàs ann an stèidheachadh na trìtheamh bun-sgoil ann am Baile Ghobhainn, gus taobh an iar-dheas a’ bhaile a fhrithealadh.

Tha cothrom do na sgoiltean sin fosgailte do theaghlach sam bith a chuireas a-steach iarrtas sònraichte gu Comhairle a’ Bhaile, a dh’aindeoin meud an eòlais a tha aig pàiste air a’ Ghàidhlig. Chan eil ach beag-chuid den chloinn a tha a’ tighinn à dachaighean far a bheil Gàidhlig ga labhairt mar phrìomh chànan. Ged a tha ceanglaichean aig mòran phàrantan ris a’ Ghàidhealtachd agus na h-Eileanan, tha feadhainn eile a’ taghadh foghlam tro mheadhan na Gàidhlig mar thoradh air ùidh nas fharsainge ann an cultar na h-Alba no air sgàth an tuigse do na buannachdan inntinneil, cànanach, agus sòisealta an lùib foghlam dà-chànanach. Tha a’ Chomhairle a’ cur taic ri pàrantan a tha ag ionnsachadh le raon de chlasaichean is gnìomhachdan teaghlaich. A thuilleadh air foghlam tro mheadhan na Gàidhlig, far a bheil oideachadh anns na cuspairean uile no a’ mhòr-chuid dhiubh air a thoirt tron Ghàidhlig, tha cothroman ann do sgoilearan Gàidhlig ionnsachadh mar chuspair ann an sgoiltean tro mheadhan na Beurla sa bhaile, ged a tha na cothroman agus an gabhaltas sin cuibhrichte.

At first the school served the whole of the city, and, at secondary level, also took in pupils from surrounding local authorities. Within a decade the school had become overcrowded and so the Council opened a new primary school in 2016 to serve the south-east of the city, Bunsgoil Ghàidhlig Ghleann Dail (Glendale Gaelic Primary School), in Kenmure Street. By 2018 there were over 900 pupils in Gaelic-medium education in Glasgow with demand projected to reach 1,250 by 2021 and the Council is in the process of establishing a third primary school, in Govan, to serve the south-west of the city.

Access to these schools is open to any family that submits a placing request to the City Council, regardless of the child’s previous exposure to Gaelic. Only a minority of pupils come from homes where Gaelic is the main language. Although many parents have connections to the Highlands and Islands, others choose Gaelic-medium because of a wider interest in Scottish culture or because of their understanding of the cognitive, linguistic, and social advantages of bilingual education. The Council supports learner parents with a range of classes and family activities. In addition to Gaelic-medium education – where instruction in all or many subjects is provided through Gaelic, there are opportunities for pupils to study Gaelic as a single subject at some English-medium schools in the city, although the opportunities and uptake are currently limited.