Quite simply, Gaelic-medium education is an educational model second to none.
And, as if that wasn’t enough, it will give your child an outlook on life that is priceless.
Here’s what you will be giving your child if you choose Gaelic-medium education...
It has been consistently shown by studies worldwide that children who are bilingual do well across the curriculum. This is borne out by Scottish statistics on Gaelic-medium students.
For example, the Scottish Government’s 2007 statistics for year S4 (the stage that currently provides the most detailed comparisons), show that Gaelic-medium students scored 23% above the national average, putting them among the highest achieving groups in the country.
Furthermore, thanks to its highly motivated, caring and experienced school staff, Edinburgh is particularly well placed to offer excellence in education from the outset.
Beyond academic achievement, it is clear that children in Gaelic-medium education gain in self-esteem and social responsibility.
The fact is that young children achieve bilingualism rapidly. This is true whether the first contact with Gaelic is at early primary, pre-school or earlier within a Gaelic-speaking families. Children take two, or in many cases three languages in their stride. And the benefits of bilingualism start immediately.
Furthermore, in Scotland, with the number of children enrolling in Gaelic-medium education leaping upwards, Gaelic is the language to be bilingual in. Not only are peer social opportunities becoming common for all ages, it is also the case that Gaelic is rapidly becoming a key asset in the workplace – Scotland is rediscovering its Gaelic heritage.
These trends are as clear in Edinburgh, a city with 6,000 Gaelic speakers, as anywhere. Gaelic opportunities are multiplying rapidly and demand for Gaelic-medium education is growing fast.
There is much more information on bilingualism, its advantages, and resources available to parents, on www.bilingualism-matters.org.uk, the web-site of Bilingualism Matters, a newly established organisation that brings together researchers and community to encourage bilingualism in Scotland.
In recent years there has been a huge surge in popularity of our rich Scottish music and arts traditions, with young people at the forefront of both traditional and modern expressions of this.
Music, arts and performance are an aspect of Gaelic culture that is an integral part of a Gaelic education. In Edinburgh, the Gaelic schools are major centres for youth traditional music and the Gaelic arts.
Specifically, Edinburgh hosts both annual and weekly Fèisean. These are Gaelic and traditional arts tuition festivals offering a wide range of arts and other options. Children also have the opportunity to take part in local and national Mòds that are held at different locations around the country. Mòds are Gaelic arts competition festivals and major social gatherings.
Through these and a host of other opportunities, many children reach a high level of accomplishment and performance experience, either as individuals or together with others. For example, Tollcross Primary Gaelic choir and the Edinburgh schools clàrsach ensemble are among the top groups in the country, and regularly perform at public events.
The Gaelic tradition is for arts to be taught orally, and for performance to be central from the outset, though initially very informally. Such cèilidhs strengthen the community and they add to the cultural identity of all involved.
In Edinburgh, as elsewhere, the Gaelic school model has led to a strong, supportive community, and a healthy social scene. Both staff and families contribute to an active programme of events and community network.
The school community has a particularly international and multicultural outlook. While many of the families in Edinburgh whose children attend the schools do have roots in Scotland, including strong links to the traditional Gaelic heartlands, rich mix of nationalities from all over the world is particularly noticeable.
Will my child miss out on English skills?
No. English is so prevalent that Gaelic-medium children are also completely natural English speakers. English literacy skills are taught from P3, to give equal, high competence in both languages.
How can I get my child to and from Tollcross?
School buses transport primary school children living more than two miles’ walk from the school.
Does it matter if I can’t help with homework?
Parents are not expected to be able to read, speak or understand Gaelic. Many choose to learn Gaelic.
Is additional classroom help available?
As in most schools, any child who needs help in particular areas will receive it. Children with special strengths are also encouraged to develop their skills.
Gaelic-medium education produces high-achievers in all spheres of life. The Edinburgh Gaelic schools represent an unparalleled opportunity to give your child the very best educationally, linguistically, and culturally.