We are testing a new beta website for gov.scot go to new site

Report of the Scottish Government's Conference on the Scots Language, University of Stirling, 9 February 2009

Listen

ANNEX C: Notes from breakout groups

Breakout group 1

Question one: What role should central and local Government play in the development of policy for the Scots language? What should the policy address?

  • Should acknowledge the work and contributions taken by individuals, this has not been looked at in the past.
  • If you are put in touch with people doing this in schools then it is important for everyone to acknowledge. Therefore the government should take responsibility directly or through the local authorities and the 6 other sectors to support and provide.
  • People don't know how to access information about Scots language. There should be a huge audit of all the activities that are happening. There should be someone within the Scottish Government reporting to the local authorities so people know who to go to for information.
  • There is a danger of a big audit turning into a massive paper exercise; that size of audit would need to be continuous and have firm funding.
  • Focus should be on the role of the central and local government, there is only one representative from South Lanarkshire here today which demonstrates a lack of commitment already by local government. The role they should play is to set aspirations and a long term policy, not just promote Gaelic and English but Scots as well and the commitment needs to be strong.
  • It should be set out as a business plan with short, medium and long term plans, the commitment shown will determine the recognition. Recognition is the big word; it needs to come from the top.
  • We should look at how it is handled in other countries and look at language planning. The EU Commission has expertise in that area that they are willing to share and the Scots language could fit into this.
  • The policy should attempt to address equal respect for the Scots language as with the English language and all other languages.
  • We should also have a policy officer, there are Gaelic ones so why not ones for Scots.

Question 2: What kind of structure is desirable to improve the current delivery of support and provision for the Scots language? What roles could existing or new public bodies and Scots language organisations play in such a structure?

  • In other countries it is vital to have a body that the government is obliges to consult on a statutory basis. We don't have someone to represent the Scots language, and no Scots language board.
  • Previously there was a call for an Institute for the Scots Language but there were various arguments for and against it; it would be interesting to review those findings.
  • Ensure that there is not an academic elitism; we should try and bring the best from all ends of the Scots language community.
  • There is a forum called G13 or G14 for Gaelic whereby main organisations get together to discuss how to take the language forward. They meet once or twice per year, would it be possible to introduce an S13, etc. for the Scots language.
  • Danger of that being that it is under-represented. Should look at having the smaller organisations coming together to have the voice to avoid getting above ourselves.
  • Both organisations need support and feedback; it's a multidirectional process.
  • Focus on the larger organisations and how they can capture all the support. Bodies should share best practice and case studies discuss what has been going on, that would be a good vehicle for providing a platform moving forward.
  • The Scottish Learning Centre takes on smaller organisations and brings together regular interests.
  • There could be a larger remit in bringing similar groups to themselves and putting those together with universities / organisations / Scots corpus / dictionaries. If they all come together and called themselves an academy, for example 'the Scots Academy', with the right support it would give us a proper status.
  • Switzerland has three or four languages and is classed therefore as a multilingual nation. The Scottish Government should use this more in Scotland; we could be a trilingual nation and really promote that.
  • In Scottish Parliament they have cross-party discussion groups designed for certain areas of expertise, they are bi-monthly sessions for ideas to be put to the MSPs. However, currently, Parliament won't send MSPs to listen to the people who travel miles to discuss this with them and so straight away it falls down. The piece of structure is there as long as the government keep their side of the bargain; otherwise it is a waste of time.
  • There needs to be a statutory body for people to consult who are therefore obliged to respond.
  • There need to be the ground workers like the teachers and the community workers, etc. who feed up the chain to the institutions and make the necessary recommendations.
  • Somebody has to make a proposal as to exactly what structure should exist. Once this has been agreed, bodies can apply for the funding to lead to the further education of the Scots language.
  • There are no known Scots language classes, more of an opportunity for kids to learn it in school but no opportunities for adults with no education on the subject to learn it.
  • The evening classes that have existed in the past have mainly focused on learning Scots and not on actually teaching the language.
  • The problem stems from education - historically in schools the policy has been that English was taught and Scots removed; it should be that they are both taught with equal support.
  • There are teachers ready to teach this now, when in the past it has been frowned upon; schools are running too quickly towards written literature when they should be looking at furthering the spoken language.
  • Schools have introduced a wider definition of literacy. A big role will be in educating parents as they could be potential obstacles as some deem it as a slang language.
  • Gaelic-medium schools are all about speaking and listening. If the parents don't speak it as well then it won't work, we need to educate everybody.

Question 3: How can the new curriculum framework for schools provide opportunities for young people to explore the Scots language and Culture?

  • The curriculum is now focusing on listening / talking / reading and writing, to refine thinking, develop critical thinking, define text and identify methods of communication. We have now embedded the notion of Scots language in the framework almost giving us permission to use it orally.
  • Could we introduce an exchange programme between Scots and Gaelic speakers to experience and encourage the use of each other's language? Schools could introduce it. In most Scots studies it is either to learn Scots or Gaelic or neither.
  • The work being done in Primary schools is good but in secondary schools there is very little, if anything, what are the SQA doing about it?
  • Examination processes are to be considered and teachers are able to feedback what they feel is required.
  • Many parents feel it is just a slang language and are not giving it their full support. We need to introduce classes for parents to learn Scots, it is a lost cause if they don't and there is no current opportunity to learn.
  • Schools could encourage parents and teachers to come together to discuss the language, once they know the head teacher supports it, their buy-in is more likely and we can drive it.
  • Children are having it taken away from their culture; literature should be vigorously promoted to make it a wider recognised language.

Question 4: What opportunities exist to increase access to the Scots language in the media and how can the media be encouraged to engage with the Scots language community?

  • If 1.5 million people are learning and speaking Scots then why aren't people fighting for it, possibly as it is regarded widely as slang. People laugh at it as it is viewed not as a language but as a dialect. You have people like the Scottish BBC joking about it so it's going to be hard to fight against that because people don't want to take it seriously.
  • Scots is not on the television and when it is spoken there is no distinction between the slang and the language to educate anybody. Rab C Nesbitt is the only example of it - but again it is a comedy and not used as an education tool.
  • It needs to be balanced out on a wider spectrum, we should move away from Burns and focus on other famous Scots, for example, Robert Henryson/Henderson, 15 th century poet whose work to this day still closely identifies with the language and has a message for today.
  • Primary schools are only as good as the teachers make it, but there has been movement and improvement. The media is much more powerful than what people will learn over a desk. However in the same vein, the media can ruin the language with mispronunciations, etc. therefore damaging the education process.
  • Attention needs to be on who drives the media, essentially they need to have education and experience of the language.
  • May be advantageous to introduce a Scots Digital Channel eventually; but start with radio broadcasting as it is cheaper to do so. To capture children's interest the internet would be an ideal place - teachers placing classes on YouTube. It has been successful with Gaelic, so it's worth doing for Scots.
  • Compare the work of the Gaelic community and their efforts to maintain their language through the media and apply it to the ideals of the Scots.
  • Minister to request a one hour daily radio show for Scots language and take it from there. Phone-in programmes currently on the radio involve a lot of Scots from callers; we should encourage the presenters to speak it back. Introduce brief dialogues to phase it in to listeners.
  • If backing and incentives were received from MSPs then people would be keen to learn it. There are no standard Scots grammar books only very vague literature that can be used. If someone wanted to print 5,000 leaflets tomorrow it would only cost £99 and it would be easy to do and would greatly promote the Scots language.
  • The media is an important way of communicating, sometimes we complain about tokenism but it may be the right way to go about it in this instance. The Scottish Government does now include Scots language in their titles. We should take this approach further and introduce it into other day-to-day activities.

Question 5: How can the Scots language and its cultural practices be considered, developed and promoted as an economic asset?

  • Festivals which promote Scots writing. Include it and performances in the Fringe annually and promote it at events that bring large publicity. Set up our own festivals, it only takes a couple of people to organise it, we need to stop talking about what we want to do and just do it.
  • Singing in Scots at festivals for promotion. Currently there is no funding provided for this so would have to look at grants. There are all kinds of activities to be promoted.
  • We teach traditional music and song which would include Scots songs but we may not recognise it as such.
  • Consider introducing an official Scots mascot. There are lots of events in which we can exploit the language and get it out there.
  • Could Creative Scotland do something within the film industry? Trainspotting was a very successful film which like the book covered the Scots language. We should see more programmes like Rab C Nesbitt and include subtitles.
  • We have talked and talked for 30 - 40 years; we should remain positive and productive - it's just a matter of time.

Breakout group 2

Question one: What roles should central and local government play in the further development of policy for the Scots language? What should such policy, if desirable, attempt to address?

There was a discussion which suggested that leadership should come from the top and the fact of all the people coming together today at the Conference showed the Government the amount of people who were interested. This needs to be a shared vision and all authorities should buy into this. The economic implications are enormous and only small pockets of funding have been received. It was noted that there was no security through the curriculum for excellence and all teachers would be required to brush up on their Scots. It was thought that in the past Scots had been diluted and looked upon as bad language. All the history of the Scots language requires to be detailed as all the information is there, but people do not seem to be looking at this.

The Group thought that the SQA should have external examinations and the school inspectors should be looking at lessons using Scots. Some schools do not publicise their use of the Scots language. The method of training teachers to use Scots in lessons should also be investigated. There was also opposition and/or ignorance by the public.

It was agreed that there should be a clear vision from the top and an emotional and social wellbeing for valuing the language and the emotions of a nation. A pride and value of the language is required.

For 30 years the Scotsoun organisation has been compiling the meaning of words and it was emphasised that children could recite Scots without understanding their meaning and this would have to change. One problem was - "who was to teach the teachers?"

Summary

  • Leadership and shared vision from central government.
  • Funding needs to be considered.
  • Knowledge base exists and this needs to be used.
  • Education and qualifications, including HMIE and the training of teachers.
  • Need for inspiring people.
  • Valuing language and the impacts on society.
  • Instil value of the language.

Question two: What kind of structure is desirable to improve the current delivery of support and provision for the Scots language? What roles could existing or new public bodies and Scots language organisations play in such a structure.

The Group agreed that broadcasting was the answer and should be done as regularly as possible. The reading of Scots poetry, perhaps on the radio, every day. This could also be the language for a lot of people in the community. The Group suggested that museums and galleries could have commentaries in Scots describing the artefacts and paintings, i.e. a dual language.

The use of children, who are learning Scots, in public plays, etc., generating contemporary text and poetry. The publications of fairy tales, etc., by Itchy Coo, who is an important publisher. It was thought that people should learn from each other and should be advised of what everyone is doing to promote the Scots language and this could be circulated by the Scottish Government.

The Scottish National Theatre could be required to stage Scots writers' plays. The question was asked "where do Scottish composers go to have their work presented?" and it was thought the RSO should be involved in this. The group thought that the Scottish Arts Council were the best economic way forward for this.

Summary

  • Funding requires to be addressed.
  • A need for a central point for information.
  • Broadcasting has a role.
  • Knowing what can be done about language in community.
  • Galleries and Museums - information in Scots would be beneficial and would have the language represented.
  • There is a need to learn from each other, and this could bring everyone together, e.g. Scotstoun Productions Learning Source.
  • Obligation to produce work in Scots i.e. theatre plays, and involve cultural organisations.
  • The role of the Scottish Arts Council with regard to sustainable funding.
  • The sustainable development of contemporary art.

Question three: How can the new curriculum framework for schools provide opportunities for young people to explore the Scots language and culture?

The group was advised that the curriculum spans 3 - 18 years old in a seamless stream, built on prior knowledge and attitudes. This has taken away the rigidity, giving professional freedom for the teachers. It was noted that Scots was sometimes termed as 'slang'.

In discussing this the group wondered if new role models could be introduced i.e. does Chris Hoy, the Olympic cyclist, use Scots and could he be used. It was agreed that there was more than one way to attack the subject, as it does not compute with the intelligentsia. It was agreed that children can educate their parents to the social acceptability of many things, and this could be the Scots language.

It was thought Scots could be put on the internet and that the SQA would have a role to provide the opportunity for studies. This would also mean that teachers would have to become proficient in the language to be able to teach it. Official guidelines on how to write Scots at the basic level would be required. The group noted that there is a Scottish National Dictionary which is a great help, giving grammar and how to write the language and would be a powerful tool to teach others.

Summary

  • Provide a framework for Scots language to be used across a range of subject areas.
  • Provide an opportunity to reflect the people in the community.
  • Needs to, or can help, to break barriers and challenge perceptions.
  • Widening experiences.
  • Positive role models.
  • SQA must have a role and provide a status and currency and also impact on secondary education.
  • Official stated place in curriculum.
  • The grammar should be taught.
  • Instruction on how to write Scots.
  • This is an excellent tool for young children to teach others.

Question four: What opportunities exist to increase access to the Scots language in the media (print, radio, television, online) and how can the media be encouraged to engage with the Scots language community?

It was noted that there had been some ridicule today on the radio/media regarding the Conference and it was thought that this was sometimes how the public regarded the Scots language. One member of the Group advised that a film made in Scotland using animation and commentary by young people in the Scots language had won first prize in a competition in Italy. The use of the language had not deteriorated from the movie. The Scotsman newspaper had given a two page article on this raising awareness of Scots as a language. It was agreed that the Scottish voice is a good passport and needs to be heard.

It was noted that the head of BBC Radio and Television was a Gaelic speaker and should be approached to allow the Scots language, perhaps by reading poetry, or using sub-titles on other programmes. Any ideas should be forwarded to the BBC, including some children's programmes and news items. Perhaps some slots in the programming could be filled with stories in Scots and matters of interest.

There should be a link between the Scottish Government and the Scots activists to create work in the Scots language. It was, however, noted that money requires to be available for this and the Scottish Government should be lobbied.

Summary

  • Generate our own media resources, which would raise awareness, e.g. a Scottish 'Jackanory'.
  • Scottish speakers ( i.e. the Scottish tongue) need to be heard, as it is one of the best.
  • Subscribe to some programmes.
  • Fill broadcasting (radio and television) slots with stories, matters of interest.
  • The Scottish Government needs to engage or lobby media.
  • Lobby MSPs and let them know what is wanted.
  • Funding to be provided for new media aspects.
  • There is a need to move away from stereotypes.
  • There is a need to show evidence of interest in the Scots language.

Question five: How can the Scots language and its cultural practices be considered, developed and promoted as an economic asset?

The group agreed that the tourist industry made a great deal of profit from mugs, and keepsakes, including Burns interpretations, etc., and this should be developed. The Celtic Connections or the Mòd should be replicated, with poetry and music, perhaps in the Central Belt, with festivals, etc.

It was essential that there was a platform to have a higher profile for the Scots language and the work ethic of working hard could make things happen.

Summary

  • Tourist items and keepsakes are already successful and profitable - we should build on these.
  • Conference.
  • Literary and music festivals (similar to the Mòd).
  • Displays of Scots language and culture.
  • A platform and identity for the Scots language to show it is an economic asset. This could be a higher profile of diversity and the ideology that if you work hard, good things happen.

Breakout group 3

Question one: What roles should central and local government play in the further development of policy for the Scots language? What should such policy, if desirable, attempt to address?

  • Back to basics - central government needs to give formal recognition that 'Scots is good for the nation' and be supportive of the Scots language in education.
  • Central and local government both have to actively support Scots culture - up to now this has been left to voluntary organisations, who receive paltry funding for this.
  • Central government has to take lead in formulating policy, but does not have to issue a 'dictat': the Scots language should be seen as something to be proud of and be regarded as an asset.
  • Central government has to promote the benefits of the Scots language for the nation: Scots needs to be encouraged, enabled and endorsed both in policy and financial terms.
  • A campaign for the Scots language (c.f. Homecoming 2009)?
  • Has a delivery role in curriculum design for education.
  • Positive endorsement of the value of Scots.
  • Learning and Teaching Scotland has a role in developing and supporting Scots in the curriculum.
  • Provision of resources, delivering curriculum design, teacher training.
  • Central government should take lead from voluntary organisations.
  • Investment in teacher training.
  • No need for government to issue
  • There needs to be enough room to enable top-down and bottom-up approaches.
  • A government structure will help - currently too much patchiness and diversity in provision.
  • Encouragement for things that are happening locally to be rolled out nationally.

Question two: What kind of structure is desirable to improve the current delivery of support and provision for the Scots language? What roles could existing or new public bodies and Scots language organisations play in such a structure?

  • Local authorities have to make a commitment to make a slot in curriculum for Scots language.
  • At present resources that are available are not common to all local authorities, e.g. local libraries having different systems and their own emphasis on the Scots language.

Question three: How can the new curriculum framework for schools provide opportunities for young people to explore the Scots language and culture?

  • Need to identify where Scots sits within the education system/curriculum, and plan around that.
  • Up to government to define 'excellence'; where good provision already exists, use that as a standard.
  • Teachers need to have the confidence to teach through the medium of Scots and resources need to be made available to support them.
  • Financial commitment to say money is available? Who to coordinate/distribute?
  • What about LTS - doesn't currently disperse resources.
  • Can the standard education budget not fund if there is a space created in the curriculum for Scots language?
  • Bookstart to be used as model for distribution of resources?
  • Can the curriculum put the emphasis on the Scots language rather than the emphasis on 'other languages of Scotland'?
  • Make text available online - enabling resources need to be explored. Copyright issues?
  • Scots should be made available, but not necessarily compulsory; with some development and investment the benefits of studying Scots should be self-evident - c.f. how Japan treats its indigenous culture: tradition bearers or 'living treasures'.

Question four: What opportunities exist to increase access to the Scots language in the media (print, radio, television, online) and how can the media be encouraged to engage with the Scots language community?

  • No longer Scots language music programmes on television, e.g.White Heather Club, Thingamajig. Late night programming or digital TV make Scots programme viewing inaccessible. Nothing mainstream or prime time apart from comedy programmes, e.g.Still Game. Scots people portrayed as drunks on TV - crime programmes, Taggart.
  • Recommendation of Scottish Broadcasting Commission for Scots digital network - good opportunity for Scots programming?
  • Pay online web worker? Pay writers flat fee - people access to text online. Teenagers no longer watching TV - programmes downloaded from internet.
  • Invent Scots spellchecker?
  • Social networking sites for Scots language, e.g. myscots.com (c.f. mygaelic.com, You Tube, My Space). Literature class sets in Scots language in text and online. Audio. Scots language used in texting and e-mail.

Question five: How can the Scots language and its cultural practices be considered, developed, and promoted as an economic asset?

  • Tourism promotion - similar to 'Homecoming 2009'. Nothing advertised in the Scots language in the Homecoming programme.
  • Tourist signs only in Gaelic and English. How can the language be developed if it's not been seen?
  • More music festivals like the ones already prevalent in small towns like Keith, Kirriemuir, Auchtermuchty and national festivals like Celtic Connections.
  • Economic impact of festivals: visitors spend at least £500 pp.
  • Scots can make contribution to increasing cultural/'intelligent' tourism.
  • Build Scots language and culture into mainstream tourist information and services.
  • Economic gains will follow if government endorses, encourages Scots language at point of entry e.g. on websites, etc. Visitors need to have access to learning more about the language, be encouraged to attend events at which they will be able to listen to the language and become involved by learning through music, etc.

Breakout group 4

Question one: What roles should central and local government play in the further development of policy for the Scots language? What should such policy, if desirable, attempt to address?

  • Status of Scots Language: needs recognition.
  • Central government should be asking council what they are doing with education, communities and the Census to identify the status of the Scots language and the people's understanding of it.
  • Status of the language will improve with education. Status will improve with the language becoming embedded in society, it will improve if people can personally identify with it and see it in themselves.
  • Children have enthusiasm to learn - evident in the bairns' presentation this morning.
  • National Provision - No Scots language. Perhaps all communication in Scotland should have some element of Scots language?
  • There has to be learning support to teachers and also to parents. Scots needs to be promoted and not discouraged - if someone was to use it in a sentence, they must not be chastised for it as this will lead to a lack of confidence when using Scots words/language.
  • There must a commitment in this way to the Scots language.

Roles of Central and Local Government:

  • 2 levels - institutional side (schools) and micro side (social work): if spoken to in Scots, there is a tendency for people to translate it back into Standard English: this discourages the use of the language.
  • Scots language needs to be 'acceptable'. There must a confidence to speak to social workers/doctors/teachers in Scots.
  • There is a current stigma of Scots which is attached to a 'lower class' of people.
  • Barriers need to be broken down but some people don't want to break down these barriers to the Scots language.
  • At the moment, teachers are constantly explaining that they don't know where to go for information to attain skills in order to teach the language.
  • Robbie Robertson was chief of CIST and he said that "education is a slow process".
  • Some good Scottish voices in Parliament would be beneficial to the cause.

Question two: What kind of structure is desirable to improve the current delivery of support and provision for the Scots language? What roles could existing or new public bodies and Scots language organisations play in such a structure?

  • There must a clarification of what the Government want to achieve with the Scots language.
  • Education summit - get everyone together and discuss how to take things forward - Scots plays, poems, literature etc
  • Digitising Scots literature/music/conversation - bringing media up-to-date.
  • Curriculum for excellence
  • Problem of fragmentation - not all curriculum's standards between regions are as high as each other. Some places don't want to embrace the language and resist moves to promote it.

Strategic approach:

  • Formulation of committee similar to the Meek Committee would be beneficial - an 'advisory committee' could be set up which can influence decision-making in government.
  • Creation of the post of 'Minister for Scots'?
  • At the moment many people in a position to influence decision making are not from a Scots speaking background.
  • Needs to be a strategic plan coordinated across Scotland.
  • A body like Bòrd na Gàidhlig should be set up for the Scots language.
  • Collaboration with universities and Learning and Teaching Scotland.
  • A huge commitment from schools is needed.
  • There is a 'political will' to embed the Scots language within schools just now.
  • People need to engage with the Scots language and be willing to accept it as part of their culture. It needs to be promoted from someone above 'formal provision'
  • Models of good practice must be set up to promote it.
  • There needs to be positive discrimination toward the Scots language.
  • Inspiration can be taken from other minority languages - Scots could team up with other Indo-European countries such as Finland.
  • Economic benefits can be analysed for it.

Question three: How can the new curriculum framework for schools provide opportunities for young people to explore the Scots language and culture?

  • Opportunity to work across curricular activities so the language is flowing through all aspects of school life - opportunities between faculties can be built.
  • Scots should be a named language and there should be permission to teach it.
  • There will be a 'snowball effect' if the education of Scots language is embedded into the curriculum.
  • A lot of resources will be needed and teachers need to be trained in order to teach it.
  • There must be a consistency across all bodies because at the moment there are huge disparities across councils/schools etc.
  • Scottish Publishing Industry - once the backbone but not anymore - more Scots publications are needed.
  • A good idea would be to have a centralised supply for resources.
  • Models of good practice need to must be taken nationally.
  • The word must be spread and embedded into the structure.
  • Central body - a body with a champion within arts and education to promote Scots.
  • GLOW has been exceptional
  • There must be an importance placed on that of I.T. - podcasts, audio/visual

Question four: What opportunities exist to increase access to the Scots language in the media (print, radio, television, online) and how can the media be encouraged to engage with the Scots language community?

  • Doing this on a large scale may not be profitable.
  • Recognition that there is a source of education for several levels of education.
  • Resources for higher levels of education tend not to be as readily available and don't generate as much revenue.
  • Standard Grade is an important level to promote at because everyone in school is affected in that bracket.
  • At the moment it is acceptable to write assignments on Scots language texts but the assignment must be written in English - this should be changed to allow for the assignment to be written in Scots.
  • There needs to be an expansion of the resources/publications at secondary level.

Support for Creativity

  • Need to capture interest - emphasis on graphic novels, detective novels, a Scottish version of The Simpsons
  • Use of Scots language liberates weans because they feel free to use it
  • Route of accessing Scots - there needs to be a rich source in a diversity of media
  • There is currently not enough writing in Scots - many writers have complained that their work would not be published if they wrote in Scots.
  • In Catalonia the Catalan language was funded massively by their Government
  • It has been estimated that it would take three generations to remove stigmatisation of the Scots language.

Question five: How can the Scots language and its cultural practices be considered, developed and promoted as an economic asset?

  • Burns related material is worth £159 million to the Scottish economy
  • 'Mod for Scotland' - literature, music composition.
  • To be economically viable the long-term will have to be considered - it will have to be considered as not just a long-term asset but a short-term cost
  • Cultural confidence needs to be installed in the people
  • There must be a debate by the press to get more Scots literature into publications
  • More Scottish culture into art
  • Encourage theatre groups to go round and tour performances
  • Tourists should be explained things in Scots and place names should be translated in order to promote Scots language
  • More emphasis on genealogy
  • Graham Black's 1946 publication
  • Am Baile - massive resource for Scottish material.

Breakout group 5

Question one: What roles should central and local government play in the further development of policy for the Scots language? What should such policy if desirable, attempt to address?

The group acknowledged that previous government policy, since the nineteenth century was very much geared to destroying the Scots language. It was seen by many to be bad English rather than a separate language. There was a suggestion that this has been accelerated in the latter half of the twentieth century with the development of broadcasting. The fact that the media has been based in London assisted this.

There was a general consensus within the group that there should be a new policy to encourage the Scots language.

A policy currently exists within Scotland to encourage the development of the Scots language.

There is however a feeling that coverage and the success of that policy differs across Scotland, depending in which local authority or town you reside, or depending upon the teacher or head teacher at the school.

Although it was acknowledged that the Curriculum for Excellence did explicitly state and encourage the development of the Scots language within the class room, coverage was however varied. The new curriculum gives teachers more freedom, but if a teacher is not willing to teach Scots language or culture, then it would not happen. It was suggested that perceptions that Scots was English slang had to be won over before it could be of greater success.

Consideration was given of media coverage of the Scots language. It was acknowledged that there was not a huge amount of broadcasting available in the Scots language. It was suggested, that especially within BBC Scotland, it was hard to find a place for Scots within their programming schedule. Questions were asked of the ability of the Scottish Government to change such a policy. It was however noted that broadcasting was a matter reserved to Westminster, and that there would have to be political will power to make such a change. There was a general consensus within the group that the devolution of broadcasting to Scotland could assist. Whether control would however be vested in the Scottish authorities or to a broadcasting trust was raised, and it was acknowledged that this would have an effect on how policy would be taken forward.

There was a degree of discussion into what the policy emanating from government should be. It was acknowledged that whereas the Scots language was not at the critical point that the Gaelic language is at, this is the time to act, to ensure that the Scots language does not continue in a similar direction as Gaelic has done.

It was accepted that key to any principle was that there had to be a concerted attempt that those people within public life (politicians and those in broadcasting) should be encouraged to use more Scots, and to overcome the idea that the Scots language is somewhat parochial. It was suggested that this was especially prevalent in broadcasting, as it is heavily influenced by the London media and to a greater extent from the United States of America.

Scots language policy is already acknowledged within the SNP's manifesto commitments, the European Charter on Minority Languages and the Parliament's Statement of Principles. It was questioned how this could be taken on further.

Great importance was placed upon learning, and the ability of children especially to learn the Scots language. As part of the consultation of education syllabuses it was suggested that it is important that children's voices are heard, to ensure that any policy on the Scots language is directed and relevant to young people.

Concluding this question, it was acknowledged that any policy had to encourage a change in attitudes towards the Scots language. By ensuring people, especially children, have access to it will in itself foster a pride and respect in the language.

Question two: What kinds of structure is desirable to improve the current delivery of support and provision for the Scots language? What roles could existing or new public bodies and Scots language organisations play in such a structure?

It was acknowledged at an early stage that it should be highlighted at a structural level what did not exist. Comparison was made with the Gaelic language and the existence of the Board of Gaelic. There is no similar organisation for the Scots language, and this is of hindrance to the Scots language.

Suggestions were made that a body similar to the Board of Gaelic should be set up for the Scots language. Another suggestion was the establishment of an Academy for the language, which would be independent of government, and would not be dependent upon political will.

The group considered examples of other indigenous languages.

One example was the experience of Catalonia, where during Franco's regime, Catalan was frowned upon, and positively discriminated against. Now however, Catalan has since seen a revival, with Catalan being on a par with Castilian. Children are also being taught in schools in the Catalan median.

Consideration was given to Lithuania and Estonia where since independence, languages that had ceased to be used have now become both officially used and commonplace. Reasons given for this revival were however not perhaps obvious, except in so far as the languages survived in the home.

Norway was also considered. Following independence from Denmark, Norway attempted to re-establish its Norwegian language. It established a Norwegian Language Board.

There was general consensus within the group that there should be some sort of structure. Suggestions were made that it should have two faces, in that it should look towards providing guidance to the government, assisting them delivering policy, and on the other providing support for Scots language activities for society.

Question three: How can the new curriculum framework for schools provide opportunities for young people to explore the Scots language and culture?

The group considered the new Curriculum for Excellence in relation to the Scots language. It was commended that the new curriculum encouraged the development of the Scots language in education. The new curriculum's flexibility in itself allows teachers to teach the Scots language and culture with greater freedom.

While acknowledging the flexibility it provided, the question was posed as to whether this filtered down into encouragement. As was acknowledged in the discussion relating to question 1, this often depended upon the local authority, school or teacher. As a whole however, there was now the flexibility and encouragement within the new curriculum to create greater opportunities for young people to explore the Scots language.

An issue which was raised was in relation to the availability of resources. Examples were given of Glow, CIST and the Scots Language Dictionary. It was hoped that more audiovisual aides would be made available, but that this could perhaps be done through existing media such as Glow . Problems have however developed in relation to this, especially in developing online resources. An example was given of the Traditional Music Forum who had participated in research with Learning Teaching Scotland to see what materials were available for teachers in relation to traditional music. It was suggested that similar research should be undertaken by LTS into Scots language resources for schools.

Differences in Scots language dialects has proved problematic for teachers, both in the availability of resources, but also varieties of dialect within the classroom.

Consideration was given to teacher training, specifically in the Scots language. At present it was acknowledged that there is no requirement upon a teacher to undergo any form of in-service training in relation to the Scots language. It was suggested that it was perhaps time now to create a structure to allow additional training for teachers. The group appeared to be unsure who would be in charge of this, but agreed that a concerted attempt would have to be made by educational authorities, HMI and teacher training organisations. Examples were given of attempts that had been previously run in the form of CPD for teachers in the Scots language. It was suggested that they failed, however, because teachers were not confident in their English grammar, or that they did not have the opportunity to put their training into the curriculum.

There was discussion about the differences between curriculum and syllabus, and between primary and secondary education. Especially in relation to the latter, it was suggested that teaching was overly dependent upon meeting the criteria of the exams, meaning that it was a lot harder to fit Scots language into the syllabus. An example given was that in the Higher English course there used to be the requirement that the student must study a work of Scottish literature, but this has since disappeared.

Reference was made to the experience of Ulster Scots in Northern Ireland. As a result of the Belfast Agreement, greater funds have been made available to encourage the development of the Ulster Scots language. This was, however, in part a result of political pressure. It was suggested that authorities within Northern Ireland in relation to Ulster Scots seemed to have more money than they knew what to do with. The authorities in Northern Ireland appeared to be looking to Scotland for assistance, whereas the question posed within the group was whether we should look to Northern Ireland to assist Scotland in developing an educational framework for the Scots language.

It was agreed that the Curriculum for Excellence provided a foothold upon which to develop the language further. It was, however, stressed by the group that training and greater awareness must develop from this. Examples of positive steps that could be taken were finding teachers within schools that were comfortable speaking in Scots, or having Scots Language Weeks. This would give pupils greater access to the language, and encourage training in the language.

Question four: What opportunities exist to increase access to the Scots language in the media (print, radio, television, online) and how can the media be encouraged to engage with the Scots language community?

It was acknowledged that there is some provision of the Scots language in the media.

It was reported that every time a new controller of BBC Scotland is appointed, that the Scottish Language Society would lobby them to increase Scots language exposure on the BBC. The BBC has responded by stating that it will only use the Scots language when it would naturally arise. Examples that were given of this naturally arising included television news interviews or radio phone-ins.

A suggestion was put forward that there had to be greater emphasis placed upon training institutions like the RSAMD to ensure that greater time is spent on encouraging the Scots language.

A dedicated television channel was put forward as another possibility of encouragement of the Scots language. The example was given of BBC Alba, and it was suggested that broadcasting time could be shared between the Scots language and Gaelic. It was acknowledged, however, that this may result in competition developing between the two languages. It was also suggested that BBC Alba were perhaps not overly receptive to such a suggestion due to the large number of Gaelic speakers in charge of the television channel. Another suggestion was the creation of a Scots language channel.

Reference was made to the National Theatre which was recently set up. During the process of setting it up, it was hoped that it would have fostered Scots language and generally Scottish plays. This was however not adopted by the National Theatre.

It was acknowledged that in providing Scots language in the media, there was also a problem of dialect. An example was given of an educational children's programme produced in the Scots language. The problem was that there are not sufficient actors who are proficient in the Scots language, resulting in screen families being made up of children from Aberdeen, Hamilton and Ayr, speaking their own dialects. Similarities were drawn to River City as well.

Although there was a certain amount of criticism towards the provision of the Scots language in the media, it was also acknowledged that the Scots language did continue to have a place within broadcasting. Examples of use of the Scots language were given, including Chewin' the Fat and Still Game.

It was suggested that more could be done. An example given was the provision of a news bulletin in the Scots language.

There was a degree of debate within the group about how bad the current situation is. Some members cautioned that if one was to be too critical of provision of the Scots language within the media, then you were in effect defeating your own argument. It was highlighted that although many people did not speak broad Scots, there was a wealth of Scots media personalities. They were making their own contributions to Scots media. It was suggested that there was always a danger that if you complain too much, you end up being labelled "those bleating Scots".

Question five: How can the Scots language and its cultural practices be considered, developed and promoted as an economic asset?

There was no time left to consider this question.

Breakout group 6

Question one: What roles should central and local government play in the further development of policy for the Scots language? What should such policy, if desirable, attempt to address?

Discussion ranged around the following points:

It is not possible or desirable to separate language from culture. At the moment there is a tendency to discuss Scots as a language only in the context of culture - we need to be aware that we need to consider Scots as a day-to-day language, as a transactional language.

Central government should make clear that it will support Scots in a broad sense, not just as a cultural thing. This could perhaps be achieved by adding Scots to the list of priorities under the Single Outcome Agreement between Scottish Government and local authorities.

There should be a definitive statement from the Scottish Government that it treats Scots as a language. Once there is such a statement of support, there will need to be a route map defining the Scots language and outlining provision for it within schools. There needs to be an acceptance of diversity, and a way to proceed that is inclusive of the various Scots-speaking groups, including travelling people, who are an important repository of Scots and who are often marginalised.

There needs to be a qualification in Scots, such as an A-level or a Higher. Children will not study it unless and until they can see that it will count towards a degree or qualification.

There isn't any such thing as a qualification in Scots, such as an A-level or Higher. We need to get one into the system because children won't study it until they can see that it will count towards a degree or qualification.

Question two: What kind of structure is desirable to improve the current delivery of support and provision for the Scots language? What roles could existing or new public bodies and Scots language organisations play in such a structure?

There is a need for a centralised body that brings together language, literature, music and dance, and establishes a distinct policy. There needs to be a central "Board of Scots" type of committee, which needs to address all aspects of the language and culture.

It would be useful for local councils to have a resource centre to make available materials in the Scots language. It would be helpful if there were more books, CDs, etc, available. There needs to be more support for teachers who do not have the Scots language in their backgrounds.

In some schools in Lowland council areas there was more emphasis on Gaelic than Scots because there were more resources for Gaelic. This is due in part to the fact that there is more money available from various bodies for Gaelic than for Scots. So there need to be more resources/funds across the board. It will be difficult to make more resources available as money is so tight for so many councils.

Legislation may not be the answer: there needs to be a change in society. For instance, there is a great deal of antagonism to Gaelic every time the government mentions it: "Why should they get all this [help, money, attention, etc.]?"

Question three: How can the new curriculum framework for schools provide opportunities for young people to explore the Scots language and culture?

Audits are taking place in primary and secondary schools on their current practice. The new curriculum does not define Scots; this is still under discussion. Without a firm definition, there is too much scope for interpretation. This vagueness can be exploited to do a great deal, but it can also allow a "skipping over" of Scots.

There is a need to get well-qualified people to be "champions" of the language. In Falkirk, fifteen teachers have been invited to workshops on Scots; they will then train local teacher. [At the moment, this is limited to primary school teachers.] It was noted that many teachers have found that once they allow children to use their own language the classroom is transformed: shy children step forward, disruptive children calm down, resulting in a better atmosphere for all. To promote this, there need to be more publication in Scots, as well as Doric, Dundonian, Shetland, etc., even if they are translations of English works. It was also noted that proficiency in Scots can help improve other language skills.

The whole of secondary school is dominated by Standard and Higher Grade - language is not assessed at these levels, so Scots will lose out, as students will concentrate on those subjects that will count towards their grades.

We need to blend Scots into the curriculum as an integral part and not as an afterthought, and we need to insure that it is taught well.

There was general agreement that we need a "Charter" for Scots, to define Scots and pose the questions that need to be addressed. This could then be used to guide provision in schools.

Question four: What opportunities exist to increase access to the Scots language in the media (print, radio, television, online) and how can the media be encouraged to engage with the Scots language community?

There should be greater use of the Internet in the provision of Scots. The great thing about the Web is that you can put something on it and it's available to everyone at the click of a mouse. It might be useful to establish a co-ordinating website that would point people to relevant websites. This could be a great resource and should be taken greater advantage of.

There was some discussion of the possibility of a channel for Scots, but fears were expressed that this might lead to a form of "ghettoisation". It was noted that there are broadcasts on TV and radio in some areas that use Scots in some contexts, such as sports commentary. It was also noted that it might be possible to commission programmes, from the BBC or Channel 4, on any subject, with the only stipulation that the programme be entirely or mostly in Scots. Any funding for such would need to be ring-fenced.

Question five: How can the Scots language and its cultural practices be considered, developed and promoted as an economic asset?

Scots can be a marketable resource in terms of sports commentary, fishing and farming reports. However, we should abandon objections to subtitles, so that such programmes might attract a wider audience.

There is a huge resource in the form of traditional music and dance festivals. There has only been one study of economic benefits, in Keith, which found a £50K benefit over one weekend. We must also not lose sight of the intangible benefits - building confidence in children in schools in their own language improves their performances generally, and can have an eventual economic benefit.

Summary:

1. The Scottish Government should have a definitive policy statement regarding Scots language recognising its status, and recognising and opposing discrimination against Scots speakers.

2. There should be a co-ordinating body to push Scots forward [all aspects of Scots] language and culture: a "Scots Leid Board".

3. A Charter for Scots should be in place - defining the language - on the European Minority Language model.

4. Programming in Scots should be promoted, there should be enhancement of public service broadcasting, possibly through the BBC or Channel 4, there should be greater and more co-ordinated use of the Internet.

5. Awareness of Scots in general should be raised, in public life, through festivals and the arts.

Breakout Group 7

Question one: What roles should central and local government play in the further development of policy for the Scots language? What should such policy, if desirable, attempt to address?

Question two: What kind of structure is desirable to improve the current delivery of support and provision for the Scots language? What roles could existing or new public bodies and Scots language organisations play in such a structure?

  • Policy should be extremely short and relate to a strategy with rights and expectations involved.
  • Starting point needs to be a declaration that Scots is a recognised language - this needs official backup from the government and the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.
  • Has to be on an equal footing to English.
  • Don't think that there should be a policy in place until it is in practice. Policy should be built around the way they wish it to work.
  • People need to be encouraged to take pride in their local dialect and focus on speaking Scots language before moving onto written work as not enough people are familiar with this.
  • People who speak the language can be the people who can make it easier for others to use and help make it more accessible - for example, people may wish to have their wedding ceremony or other events in Scots language so it is required that it's recognised that people do speak this language. Having the choice is what is needed.
  • Local authority websites should be able to enclose the value of the Scots language and allow people who speak the language to be able to choose between using Scots or English.
  • Poems and songs are what would help to move into using prose more as there is a lack of modern literature available in Scots
  • Need to gather a community of speakers and people who practice the language and are familiar with it to share their expertise. If people share at grassroots level and maintain this throughout school life to make more people aware of Scots and many aware that the dialect that they speak in is Scots language.
  • Church of Scotland, local authorities, schools and libraries should be making small efforts to make Scots language text and information available to speakers in their area.
  • Need to demonstrate real people using real language, that they have the rights and legislation to do so and that the development and empowerment of Scots awareness is available.
  • Should come originally as a national agenda because if local authorities and councillors get involved they may not see the need in their region as many problems start because people don't recognise that they are using Scots.
  • Bring all dialects together and local areas to allow them to realise they are using the Scots language.
  • Central government should lay down the principles and duty of care and the local government have the responsibilities the support and help the local speakers.
  • Local authorities to have sensitivity towards people in that area to know that Scots and all the regional versions/dialects are recognised. Many people don't realise that the Scots language means them - Orkney and Shetland.
  • Required to divide between regions to successfully support all areas
  • Is possible as it happened with Gaelic language Act - government to find co-ordinators and advisors to people in the community where this is the language that is used and passed down through generations.
  • Respect needed throughout the country for the language
  • Have to be enthusiastic and interest people, this will benefit speakers of the language and give respect and value to the people that use it while encouraging people to learn and teach the language.

Question three: How can the new curriculum framework for schools provide opportunities for young people to explore the Scots language and culture?

  • Many teachers have a vagueness and not much knowledge regarding the language - some are very enthusiastic however so it is possible to introduce more about the language.
  • Introduce CPD for Scots so teachers can be confident about the language, being familiar with it and the resources they could use to teach it.
  • Seems to be well dealt with in primary school and S1/S2 but when it comes to exam years and as part of coursework and exams seems to be pushed out. Pupils can write about Scots stories or poems but have to write their essays in English.
  • Standard Grade exams could have a language essay that is compulsory.
  • In Higher English used to have to examine a Scottish text within National Assessment Bank, but this is not the case now.
  • The less is done the less confident teachers are going to be about using Scots literature; if its not taught well then the pupils won't get good marks in the subject.
  • More modern texts could be translated into Scots to make it more interesting for the pupils, but pupils need to be comfortable using Scots in the first place.
  • Need experts in the subject to be seconded to take classes and give teachers/pupils workshops in the language. Local authorities need to bring into the curriculum in schools to make everyone more aware of it.
  • Primary schools would be easier to bring into as secondary schools seem to be controlled by the SQA so this would require the SQA bringing in compulsory Scots language questions or literature to be studied in English. There is talk of Higher English being revised to help this and this would link in better with Advanced Higher, where students are given the choice of studying Scots language.
  • Funding could be given for CPD to link pre-exam years with exam years so pupils understand the language.
  • Teachers should be able to have time to share practice with each other to allow them to be more confident with the language.

Question four: What opportunities exist to increase access to the Scots language in the media (print, radio, television, online) and how can the media be encouraged to engage with the Scots language community?

  • Package should be prepared to be given to the media to advertise the Scots language in the way is required to make people more aware of it.
  • Need to have the people reporting on this to speak the language or have an interest in it or it wont work and it won't come across well to the public.
  • Print media tend to think of Scots as very political and relate it to SNP so this doesn't tend to show it as a language that many people use.
  • A portal could be set up to allow speakers to easily access Scots language material. People may not be aware of North East websites or BBC Radio Shetland. Somewhere where a variety of Scots language articles, stories, websites or podcasts can be available and is publicised well so people find it very easily accessible.
  • Continuing secondary markets - look for ways to export the Scots language. Need to give exposure and variety to the language so it can be marketed and appeal to people outwith Scotland and those who don't speak the language.

Question five: How can the Scots language and its cultural practices be considered, developed and promoted as an economic asset?

  • Creation of products - Scottish gifts and souvenirs.
  • Strap lines to help improve the way of Scots and make it more accessible.
  • Commercial - good traditional plays that could be used within schools and to promote the language.
  • Traditional music festivals bring tourists into Scotland every year.
  • Promote Scottish towns as being Scots-only-speaking towns - showing to the world that these towns have an assets and selling them for that - Inverurie, Galashiels, etc.
  • Summer schools combining the language with various tasks, songs and plays.
  • Need to try to sell the language as part of tourism in Scotland and tie this in with why people want to come to visit Scotland.
  • Promote that even though we are an English speaking country we are also different as we have our own language.
  • Scots dictionaries being more readily available. Scots to French, Scots to German dictionaries instead of English to allow visitors to find out more about the language.