SQA Confirms Commitment to Gaelic at Royal National Md

The Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) has reaffirmed its commitment to Gaelic with a number of initiatives which it hopes will support the uptake of the language among learners across Scotland.

SQA, one of the main sponsors of this week's Royal National Mòd, successfully launched several adult learner qualifications in Gaelic last year. It now plans to produce new assessment materials to support the flexible delivery of existing Gaelic Language Units at levels six and seven – the equivalent of Higher and Advanced Higher. 

These new support materials will give learners the opportunity to build on the four key skills learners need to successfully learn a new language; speaking, listening, reading and writing.  The new assessment support materials will be available in 2013.

Dr Janet Brown, SQA Chief Executive, said: “The Gaelic Units launched last year were designed to give learners an accessible entry point into learning a new language.  We know that these have proved to be popular with learners and organisations will have the opportunity to offer these Units in conjunction with Gaelic language learning programmes such as Ulpan.  We are optimistic these new assessment support materials will continue to underpin the key criteria set out within our own Gaelic Language Plan and the Scottish Government's National Plan for Gaelic.

“SQA has also been invited to join the board of An Comunn Gàidhealach, the body responsible for the Royal National Mòd.  We are committed to supporting Gaelic education and the aims outlined in our Gaelic Language Plan link closely to those of An Comunn Gàidhealach.”

This year, SQA saw an increase in the number of candidates sitting National Qualification examinations and assessments across a number of different subjects in Gaelic.

These included Standard Grade and Higher Mathematics (Matamataig), Standard Grade History (Eachdraidh), Standard Grade Modern Studies (Nuadh-Eòlas) and Standard Grade Geography (Cruinn-Eòlas).

This reflects the successful transition a number of candidates have made into their senior years at secondary school after being taught through the medium of Gaelic in primary and S1-S3.

Appropriately, this was also the first year in which the candidates who took these examinations had Gaelic-medium subject qualification titles displayed on their National Qualification results certificates.

However, there is still a gap between the number of candidates sitting exams in Gaelic and the much larger number of candidates currently in Gaelic-medium education.

Robert Quinn, Head of Humanities, Arts and Business at SQA, added: “Candidate numbers taking Gaelic-medium examinations have risen and work is underway to ensure that key documents for a number of selected National Qualifications developed in line with Curriculum for Excellence will also be available in Gaelic.

“However, the number of candidates sitting Gaelic-medium examinations is not as high as it could be and we feel it is extremely important that Gaelic-medium options are available to candidates and they are supported right through to their senior years in secondary, building on the skills they have developed.”

Dr Alasdair Allan, Minister for Learning, Skills and Scotland’s Languages, said: “This is welcome news for the teaching of Gaelic in Scotland’s schools. Not only are we committed to a sustainable and positive future for the language, seeing education as a fundamental means of making that happen, I want to see Gaelic playing a full part in our work to improve language skills in our schools alongside French, Spanish, Mandarin and others.

“The numbers of people taking Gaelic language courses are on the increase but there is more that could be done and this work by SQA should be seen as a very positive step.”