INCREASING POPULARITY OF GME IN EDINBURGH
GME has been expanding since its introduction in 1988, and still appears to be expanding. It has the support of CEC and the Scottish Government via Bòrd na Gàidhlig, which was established in 2006 as a result of the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005. It is accountable to, and directly funded by, Scottish Ministers. In June 2008, Bòrd na Gàidhlig notified CEC of its statutory requirement to produce a Gaelic Language Plan for Edinburgh.
According to the resulting Gaelic Language Plan 2012–2017, ‘Gaelic school education provision began at Tollcross Primary School in 1982. It has a Gaelic unit comprising Tollcross Gaelic Nursery and Gaelic medium education (GME) classes […] in 2000/01 the primary 1 intake for GME was 12, in 2010/11 this had risen to 34 with continued increases expected’.
Secondary provision started in James Gillespie's, as it was the catchment secondary for Tollcross.
A key commitment of the Gaelic Language Plan was provision of a dedicated new primary school with nursery facilities at the former Bonnington Primary School site (which had shut as part of the 2007 closures). CEC agreed to this in October 2011, and in 2013 Bun-sgoil Taobh na Pàirce opened. Since then it has been a two-stream primary, with around 60 pupils a year. Gillespie’s remained the catchment school for Bun-sgoil Taobh na Pàirce.
[Pupils in Bun-sgoil Taobh na Pàirce. Source: draft Gaelic Plan 2018–2022.]
In March 2016, the Council anticipated a problem accommodating pupils in Gillespie’s, and tabled a report to the Education, Children & Families Committee suggesting that GME pupils unsuccessful in gaining a place there should be offered a place at Tynecastle High School or accept a place at their mainstream catchment school. Bun-sgoil Taobh na Pàirce parents were alarmed and Bòrd na Gàidhlig threatened legal action (Edinburgh Evening News, 2.3.16).
The Council withdrew the report, found a solution to accommodate the pupils at Gillespie’s in August 2106, and set up a Short Term Working group on Gaelic Medium Education and Capacity at James Gillespie’s High School comprising representatives from Gillespie’s and its catchment primaries, the Comann nam Pàrant (Gaelic Parents' Organisation) and Bòrd na Gàidhlig.