Scottish Government Commitments to Gaelic and Scots and a Scottish Languages Bill: consultation

A consultation on our commitments to Gaelic, Scots and a Scottish Languages Bill.

Bòrd na Gàidhlig

This section will discuss the commitment to review the functions and structures of Bòrd na Gàidhlig to ensure Scotland has an effective leadership body and network of organisations for the promotion of Gaelic.

Bòrd na Gàidhlig was established under the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005. The Scottish Government now intends to review Bòrd na Gàidhlig to ensure that Scotland has the most effective leadership body in place for Gaelic with the most appropriate powers for the promotion of Gaelic. The review will involve seeking views of stakeholders as part of this consultation and will include working alongside Bòrd na Gàidhlig to take their views on opportunities they identify for system improvement. With reference to the sections of this consultation on Gaelic Medium Education and exploring a Gàidhealtachd it will be also necessary to reflect on whether suggestions which emerge from responses to those sections will necessitate further changes to the functions of Bòrd na Gàidhlig.

The Scottish Government and Bòrd na Gàidhlig provide support to a wide network of organisations which work in support of Gaelic and consideration will be given to how to provide this support most effectively and efficiently. Our ambitions for Gaelic include the contributions of public authorities and bodies and in particular our wish is that bodies with functions in arts, tourism and heritage consider how they can contribute to achieving faster rates of progress for Gaelic. The review will look at the current structure, functions and operation of Bòrd na Gàidhlig and at the network of funded Gaelic organisations, with a view to asking if this is still the right structure to effectively promote and support Gaelic in Scotland.

A wide range of views have been expressed on this subject and this is probably a measure of the importance to the community of having a national body to promote the language. Again these views are referred to here in order to stimulate reflection and discussion. However stakeholders should not feel constrained by these topics and are invited as part of this consultation to offer a full range of views and their suggestions on any system changes that they would like to see.

For example views have been expressed on a need to rebrand and relocate Bòrd na Gàidhlig; on the level of Bòrd na Gàidhlig funding of Gaelic bodies; on the operation of the Gaelic language plans system including its implementation, on the status and content of the documents Bòrd na Gàidhlig produce including the National Plan for Gaelic and the Statutory Guidance on Gaelic Language Plans. Some Gaelic speakers and learners recognise the key leadership role Bòrd na Gàidhlig has in promoting the Gaelic language and community confidence in the language. Others focus on Bòrd na Gàidhlig’s role in requiring other public bodies to be more aware of and impactful for Gaelic and in supporting Gaelic funded bodies across the sector.

Opinions have been expressed about whether Bòrd na Gàidhlig should be closer to the Scottish Government and at the same time that it should be closer to the community and to Gaelic organisations. There have been comments about regulation and enforcement and about the corporate and administrative pressures on a small public body and how this can be addressed or alleviated.

There is an awareness that the other Scottish Government commitments may have implications for the structure and functions of Bòrd na Gàidhlig but mainly there is an acknowledgement that, given Bòrd na Gàidhlig was established over seventeen years ago, the time is right to review how it is performing and assess whether the functions it was established with in 2005 are still suitable for what Gaelic requires of it at this point in time.

Some consultees may comment on the detailed operation of the current Bòrd na Gàidhlig functions, including their own experiences of how those operate in practice. Others may wish to reflect and comment on the structure of the body, including where it sits in the public body landscape.

Questions of how Gaelic plans should be regulated and monitored have also featured in informal consultations, and while responses on that may be offered in the context of exploring a Gàidhealtachd we would welcome any suggestions as to how the Gaelic Plans System could be amended to make stronger, faster progress for Gaelic.

Bòrd na Gàidhlig Functions

Bòrd na Gàidhlig has as its founding legislation the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005. It also has a Framework Document which sets out its relationship with Government together with respective roles and responsibilities.

The general functions of Bòrd na Gàidhlig, as set out in the 2005 Act, can be summarised as relating to the Gaelic language, Gaelic education and Gaelic culture. Bòrd na Gàidhlig has duties to promote and facilitate the promotion of the use and understanding of the language. Bòrd na Gàidhlig has functions to provide advice on language, education and culture to Scottish Ministers and other public bodies. In addition, Bòrd na Gàidhlig has power to advise, on request, other persons on matters relating to the Gaelic language, Gaelic Education and Gaelic culture.

Bòrd na Gàidhlig is also responsible for duties relating to Gaelic plans and for the preparation of the National Plan for Gaelic. The Bòrd can require public authorities to produce a Gaelic Language Plan setting out what that body will do in relation to Gaelic, can agree the content of the plan with them and request reports on progress on how that is implemented. Bòrd na Gàidhlig is also required to prepare Guidance on Gaelic language plans and on Gaelic education. A significant percentage of the funding allocated to Bòrd na Gàidhlig is distributed through grants by them to other bodies and projects related to support for the Gaelic language.

The 2005 Act provides that the functions conferred on Bòrd na Gàidhlig should be exercised with a view to securing the status of the Gaelic language as an official language of Scotland commanding equal respect to the English language through increasing the number of persons who are able to use and understand the Gaelic language.

Status as an Executive Non-Departmental Public Body

Bòrd na Gàidhlig is a Non-Departmental Public Body. NDPBs play an important role in the delivery of public services in Scotland, carrying out a wide range of functions on behalf of Government, with varying degrees of operational autonomy from Government.

NDPBs deliver ministers’ priorities through the promotion, funding, regulation and scrutiny of services as well as by providing independent, expert advice to ministers and, often, strategic policy input to Government.

NDPBs should add value to Government through their specialist knowledge and skills, their focus on specific issues and connections with stakeholders and other interests. They are, by nature, delivery-focused and align their business to the Government’s Purpose and National Outcomes.

In terms of structure, Bòrd na Gàidhlig could sit closer to Government and there are options to consider on how this could be done. There could be efficiencies in this in terms of legal, human resources, finance and corporate support. This could relieve some of the administrative burdens on a small body.

While Bòrd na Gàidhlig operates as a small public body, this allows it wherever possible to operate through the medium of Gaelic. We expect that there is wide support for the principle of having a public body to promote and support the Gaelic language and that it is considered important that this body should continue to operate in the Gaelic language.

Gaelic Language Plans

Scottish Government would like to hear your views on whether the Gaelic language planning framework remains the best way to proceed for the protection of the Gaelic language or whether wider changes should feature as a result of this review. The current system of Gaelic plans has demonstrated progress but there is an opportunity to consider whether that system could be strengthened or whether there is a better mechanism for making further, faster progress for Gaelic. If you have experience of the Gaelic language planning framework we would ask you to consider whether it is as efficient as it could be, or whether you have any suggestions to make on how to achieve a less resource-intensive ways of making progress for Gaelic.

Consultation Questions

Consultation responses are invited on the question of a review of the structure and functions of Bòrd na Gàidhlig.

Do you have any views on the current duties of Bòrd na Gàidhlig and any suggestions of how these could operate more effectively or efficiently?

Do you have any views on structural changes at Bòrd na Gàidhlig which could strengthen the promotion of and support for Gaelic in Scotland?

Are there any further points you would like to make about the review of the functions and structure of Bòrd na Gàidhlig which seeks to ensure Scotland has the most effective leadership body and network of organisations for the promotion of Gaelic?



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