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Significant milestone for Gaelic Medium Education in Caithness

29th July 2013

The first Gaelic Medium Primary School Department in Caithness is to open at the start of the new school session on Tuesday 20 August, providing the language with a significant boost in the county.

It will be based at Mount Pleasant Primary School, Thurso, which is home to an active Gaelic Medium nursery, with 19 children.

Seven pupils from the nursery have enrolled in Primary 1 and they will be the first to be taught via the medium of Gaelic, under the guidance of Gaelic Medium teacher Mrs Gwen Bowie.

The intention is to expand the numbers, year on year and in seven years' time to enable pupils to continue learning via the medium of Gaelic at Thurso High School.

Council Leader Drew Hendry, said the opening of the primary school unit demonstrated the Council's commitment to promoting Gaelic through education.

He said: "This is great news for Gaelic Medium education and a real breakthrough for the language in Caithness. There is a healthy number of parents wishing to educate their children via the medium of Gaelic, which augurs well for the future. We are delighted to welcome Mrs Bowie to the School and, with an active feeder at the nursery, look forward to the provision developing over the years."

Councillor Hamish Fraser, Chair of the Council's Gaelic Implementation Group, added his delight at the significant milestone in the development of Gaelic Medium Education in the Highlands.

He said: "This underlines the Council's stated aims to developing Gaelic Medium Education in our Gaelic Language Plan. Clearly, we are beginning to reap the benefits of Thurso having staged the National Mod in 2010 and also by parents being aware of the significant educational benefits of bilingualism. These, along with other artistic and cultural factors, are seeing more and more parents opting to have their children taught in Gaelic."

Wick Councillor Bill Fernie, formerly chairman of the Education, Culture and Sport committee in the previous administration said,"This has been a long time coming and might hav been in place previously if it had been possible to recruit a Gaelic teacher. now things can move forward and it is likely we will begion to see an expansion of Gaelic in Caithness - long awaited by many parents."

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