Ceana Chaimbeul MhicUalraig
Updated: Jun 23, 2020
The idea of Gaelic medium education has been around in Glasgow for a long time.
Over fifty years ago, Stewart MacIntosh, the then Director of Education in Glasgow, made strenuous efforts to have a Gaelic school established to meet the needs of the large numbers of Gaelic speaking children who were attending after school and Saturday morning classes in order to learn to read and write their mother tongue.
For various reasons a school did not materialise at that time.
In the 70s and early 80s there was a growing realisation that Gaelic was in danger in the city. Fewer and fewer children in Gaelic speaking homes were actually speaking the language, although they could understand it.The need now was not merely to cater for the needs of the Gaelic speaking children, but to meet the needs of the language itself and to preserve it from oblivion.
A Glasgow University Education Department survey in 1983, showed that there was a need and a parental demand for Gaelic medium education in the city. An earlier survey had established that there were plenty Gaelic speaking teachers available and keen to be involved.
It is now almost thirty years since details of that survey were presented at a conference, convened by The Glasgow Skye Association with the support of all the Highland and Island Associations in the city, on “Gaelic in Glasgow Education”. The conference was held in the Third Eye Centre (present CCA) on 1 October 1983. The information revealed by that survey showed that there were enough children wishing Gaelic education in primary school,
to fill two schools, one north and one south of the city.
A paper arguing the “Case for Gaelic -English bilingual Education in Strathclyde” prepared by Professor Nigel Grant of the Education Department of Glasgow University was presented to representatives of Strathclyde Regional Council in February 1984, and accepted in principle.
Following on from The October Conference, and involving the parents and children identified by the University survey as desiring Gaelic medium primary education, Glasgow Gaelic Bilingual Schools Association - Comunn Sgoiltean Dachananach Ghlaschu - was formed, and formally launched in May 1984.
The Association had a single aim and purpose: to promote Gaelic medium education in general, and in Glasgow in particular, and to establish in the first instance, a Gaelic - English bilingual primary school in Glasgow.
Funding for the Association, as indeed for the conference which gave it birth, came from the Highland and Island Associations in the city, and also from fund raising efforts by the parents who were involved in what was by now a campaign for Gaelic medium education.
Many meetings, many letters, many arguments, many setbacks, ensued over the next year as the members of the Association worked with commitment and determination towards their goal, but always, the determination of the parents kept the campaign going until a modified version of what had been sought was granted at a meeting of the education committee on 10 July 1985 - to resounding applause from the public gallery.
In August 1985, when schools resumed after the summer holidays, the Gaelic Bilingual Unit in Sir John Maxwell Primary School was opened.
Fourteen years later, on 19 September 1999, Sgoil Ghàidhlig Ghlaschu (Glasgow Gaelic School) was opened followed in 2016 by a second primary school, Bun-sgoil Ghàidhlig Ghleann Dàil.