Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

War of words as Tory MSP questions Gaelic First education policy

Pictures from the Mod in Glasgow, 2019.
Pictures from the Mod in Glasgow, 2019.

A row erupted yesterday when Tory education spokeswoman Liz Smith criticised Western Isles Council’s plans to teach young pupils using Gaelic as their main language.

Ms Smith, the shadow education secretary, faced calls to apologise for describing the move as a “deeply troubling step” and arguing that the Gaelic language should not be promoted at the expense of English.

Her remarks provoked an angry response from her political opponents, with SNP Finance Minister and Gaelic speaker Kate Forbes tweeting: “Speechless.

“As a product of Gaelic-medium education, I’m personally offended and bemused because most Gaelic-medium students could talk more sense than whichever Tory said this.”

Highland Green MSP John Finnie said: “Liz Smith’s comments are as offensive as they are inaccurate.

“The reasons behind the historical decline of Gaelic in the Western Isles are well documented – as are the benefits of bilingualism.

“Ms Smith would be well advised to read up on both.

“She should also apologise to my constituents, the Comhairle (council), and everyone who has worked so hard to increase the profile of Gaelic in the Gaidhealtachd in recent years.”

Ms Forbes and Mr Finnie were reacting to Ms Smith’s views, which were quoted in the Scotsman newspaper.

Ms Smith said: “This is a deeply troubling step and one that could put children in the Western Isles at a distinct disadvantage to their peers.

“Gaelic is a rich and beautiful language and one that should be encouraged at school, but not at the expense of English.

“This worrying move will inevitably put pressure on primary children in the Western Isles to speak Gaelic for those first crucial years of school.That could have all sorts of consequences that have clearly not been considered fully.”

A new Gaelic First policy has been introduced by the islands council in a bid to help boost use of Gaelic and to give local children the benefits of being fluent in both languages.

The change means that the default language of education for the local authority will be Gaelic from P1 until P4, although schoolchildren’s parents have the power to opt out of the scheme.

Already a subscriber? Sign in

[[title]]

[[text]]