The BA (Hons) Gaelic and Education recently received validation from the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) and accreditation from the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS ) and the first cohort of students will begin the course in September.
The course will be part of Sabhal Mòr’s degree pathway and will be taught through the medium of Gaelic and will focus on immersion and bilingual teaching practices in schools. This is the first time that SMO has taken the lead role in delivering a teacher training degree, and the course is designed for either secondary teaching (Gaelic as a subject) or Gaelic-medium primary teaching.
Previously SMO had delivered teacher training in partnership with the University of Aberdeen, but with the new course the College is now a lead provider of Gaelic teacher training giving students a unique opportunity to learn in a Gaelic-rich environment. Students can complete the BA (Hons) Gaelic and Education through SMO or Lews Castle College, and the course can be undertaken via distance learning or on campus.
Commenting on the new degree and the College’s enhanced teacher-training opportunities, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig’s Principal, Professor Boyd Robertson, said: “It is entirely appropriate that teacher education courses should be provided by the National Centre for Gaelic Language and Culture. We see this as the first step in gaining recognition for the College as the main provider of training for Gaelic teachers and we would envisage that a suite of courses would be offered within a few years.”
The programme provides students with the opportunity to gain an honours award and teaching qualification in four years. This allows them a direct route into teacher education, in a field where there is a skills shortage. The course is part of SMO’s learning pathway and is expected to be an attractive option for students considering a career in Gaelic teaching.
The College’s Vice-Principal and Director of Studies, John Norman MacLeod, said: “This is a significant achievement for SMO and UHI in preparing teachers for the future, who are competent and confident to teach Gaelic and through the medium of Gaelic. The course offers unique opportunities to study language, education and professional practice in immersion situations.”
Gaelic teaching courses are available from Strathclyde University, the University of Edinburgh, UHI and Sabhal Mòr Ostaig. Although the number of new Gaelic teachers graduating has risen in recent years, there remains a pressing need for more teachers, and Bòrd na Gàidhlig is at the forefront of efforts to encourage more people to choose a career in Gaelic teaching.
Bòrd na Gàidhlig Director of Gaelic Education, Mona Wilson, said: “We congratulate Sabhal Mòr Ostaig on achieving validation and accreditation of their BA (Hons) Gaelic and Education degree. The benefits of Gaelic medium education mean that there is increasing demand from families for their children to have bilingual education and this degree will support the continued development of a confident, appropriately trained workforce in order to fulfil that demand. Sabhal Mòr Ostaig is already a fine example of an institute for Gaelic education in Scotland, and it is a significant milestone that a Gaelic ITE (Initial Teacher Education) degree such as this is being offered at this time.”
The first intake of students for the new degree will begin their studies on 4th September, and more information on the course can be found at https://www.uhi.ac.uk/en/courses.