Gaelic Language Plan

Scottish Government's plan to support the promotion of Gaelic throughout Scotland.


Overview of the National Plan

One of the key features of the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005 is the duty placed on Bòrd na Gàidhlig to prepare a National Plan for Gaelic. The purpose of developing a National Plan was to ensure that there would be a comprehensive and widely understood overview of what actions are needed to ensure a sustainable future for Gaelic, and which bodies should take those actions. The ultimate goal of the National Plan is to stabilise and then grow the number of Gaelic speakers in Scotland.

The Bòrd's National Plan identifies four interlinking aspects of language development which need to be addressed, and within them sets out a number of priority action areas

Language Acquisition

Increasing the number of Gaelic speakers by ensuring the language is passed on and by securing effective opportunities for learning Gaelic, through:

  • increasing the use and transmission of Gaelic in the home
  • increase the number of children acquiring Gaelic in the home
  • increasing the uptake and availability of Gaelic-medium education
  • increasing the number of adult Gaelic learners progressing to fluency.

Language Usage

Encouraging greater use of Gaelic, providing opportunities to use the language, and promoting access to Gaelic forms of expression, through:

  • increasing the use of Gaelic in communities
  • increasing the use of Gaelic in tertiary education and places of work
  • increasing the presence of Gaelic in the media
  • increase the promotion of Gaelic in the arts
  • increasing the profile of Gaelic in the tourism, heritage and recreation sectors.

Language Status

Increasing the visibility and audibility of Gaelic, enhancing its recognition and creating a positive image for it in Scottish public life, through:

  • increasing the number of bodies preparing statutory Gaelic Language Plans
  • increasing the profile and prestige of Gaelic
  • increasing the visibility and recognition of Gaelic.

Language Corpus

Strengthening the relevance and consistency of Gaelic and promoting research into the language, through:

  • increasing the attention given to the relevance and consistency of the Gaelic language
  • increasing the attention given to the quality and accessibility of Gaelic translations
  • increasing the availability of accurate research information.

The Scottish Government is committed to playing its part to ensure that the National Plan is implemented, and in this section we set out how we will do so.


Gaelic is an integral part of Scotland's heritage, national identity and current cultural life. The Scottish Government is committed to ensuring that Gaelic also has a sustainable future in Scotland. The Scottish Government has taken action and has invested in Gaelic and has put in place the necessary structures and initiatives and is committed to ensuring Gaelic has a sustainable future in Scotland.

These measures are designed to raise the status and prestige of Gaelic, to ensure that the acquisition of Gaelic is prized and to create opportunities for its use in a wide range of contexts. The Scottish Government's programme for Gaelic includes three main priority commitments and each of these have practical steps that we will take to ensure progress is made with these commitments.

  • We will enhance the status of Gaelic

This involves ensuring that Gaelic is given an increased profile within Scottish public life and that there is an increase in the provision of services for Gaelic speakers.

  • We will promote the acquisition and learning of Gaelic

This will include promoting and expanding the provision of Gaelic education at all levels, supporting local authorities, working with Bòrd na Gàidhlig.

  • We will encourage the increased use of Gaelic

This will be achieved by supporting and advising Bòrd na Gàidhlig in the delivery of key projects in the National Plan and with the establishment of the Gaelic digital service.

The ways in which the Scottish Government currently supports Gaelic development

The Scottish Government already promotes and supports Gaelic development in a wide range of ways. It does this through direct funding to bodies such as Bòrd na Gàidhlig, through the actions of Executive Agencies and NDPBs which carry out functions on behalf of the Scottish Government, and through the activities of bodies which operate within the statutory and policy environment established by the Scottish Government and the Scottish Parliament. Set out below is a summary of the most significant elements of this existing support structure.

There are currently fifteen Agencies of the Scottish Government (details of these can be found on our website). The provisions of this Gaelic Plan will also cover the operations of these Agencies. In some cases Agencies have distinctive role and functions, and may prefer to develop their own Gaelic Language Plan in discussion with Bòrd na Gàidhlig. However, in these cases we would expect the principles and scope of the Scottish Government's Plan to be followed. This is the case with Historic Scotland and Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Education and given their distinctive functions, there is considerable advantage for these agencies in doing so.

Implementation of the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005 - the 2005 Act was commenced in February 2006, creating a framework for the development of Gaelic Language Plans by public bodies, and establishing a new body, Bòrd na Gàidhlig, to promote and develop Gaelic. As sponsor of the 2005 Act, the Scottish Government takes a close interest in its implementation.

Implementation of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages - the Charter is designed to protect and promote Europe's lesser used languages and has been ratified in the UK in respect of Gaelic and Scots, Cornish, Welsh, Manx, Ulster-Scots and Irish-Gaelic. The Scottish Government is responsible for implementing those aspects of the charter which fall in devolved areas, such as education provision and cultural development. The Scottish Government works with a range of public, private and voluntary bodies to ensure implementation of the Charter across Scotland.

Bòrd na Gàidhlig - Bòrd na Gàidhlig was established under the 2005 Act with a statutory remit to promote and facilitate the promotion of Gaelic development. Bòrd na Gàidhlig is the Scottish Government's principal Gaelic development body and is responsible for disbursing the Scottish Government's direct Gaelic development funding. The Bòrd's budget for Gaelic development is £5.4m in 2010/11 and through this it supports a range of Gaelic development bodies such as Comunn na Gàidhlig and Cli Gàidhlig to undertake development work in the community, the home and in adult education. Bòrd na Gàidhlig is the lead body for driving implementation of the National Plan for Gaelic and the key projects within it.

Meadhanan Gàidhlig Alba -MG Alba funds, schedules and commissions Gaelic television programmes and receives £12.4m from the Scottish Government to do this. GMS is currently working in partnership with the BBC to develop and deliver a Gaelic digital television service. This new service will establish a dedicated channel for delivering an increase in hours of, and more varied range of, Gaelic programming. The service will also have a key role to play in attracting new Gaelic speakers and providing support for education initiatives.

Local Authorities - local authorities have an important role in the promotion of Gaelic in Scotland. The level and range of provision varies depending on the profile of Gaelic in the different council areas. The Scottish Government provides funding amounting to £5.6m, for authorities to assist with the additional costs of Gaelic education and the Scottish Government provides funding for Bòrd na Gàidhlig which can be allocated to authorities and others in connection with the provision of Gaelic services. Legislation with Gaelic provisions, applying to authorities include, the Education (Scotland) Act 1980, the Standards in Scotland's School etc Act 2001, the Schools (Consultation) (Scotland) Act 2010 and the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005.

Cultural development bodies - the Scottish Arts Council and Scottish Screen are the principal bodies in Scotland responsible for supporting the development of art and culture and the screen industries respectively. Both organisations have a strong track record in supporting Gaelic development, and this will continue to be a strategic objective of Creative Scotland when the new body is established to take over the roles and functions of the Scottish Arts Council and Scottish Screen.

Economic development bodies - Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise ( HIE) are the main bodies in Scotland responsible for promoting economic development. HIE in particular has played a central role in supporting Gaelic development in the Highlands and Islands. It has done so in both cultural and economic terms, support projects such as Fàs at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig and a range of community development initiatives. HIE will continue to have a central role to play in supporting the Gaelic economic infrastructure within its area of operation and is among the first bodies to prepare a statutory Gaelic Language Plan.

Education bodies - the delivery of education provision and support materials is the responsibility of a wide range of bodies, ranging from local authorities to bodies such as the Scottish Qualifications Authority, Learning and Teaching Scotland, the Scottish Funding Council, HMIE and Stòrlann. The Scottish Government provides a scheme of Specific Grants for Gaelic Education to ensure that the development of Gaelic provision continues to expand and is prioritised, which currently totals £5.6m.

Other sector-specific bodies - A wide range of other agencies and NDPBs carry out functions on behalf of the Scottish Government, and through their activities are likely to enhance the status of Gaelic. Scottish Natural Heritage, General Register Office for Scotland, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, University of the Highlands and Island and others are all involved in promoting and supporting the Gaelic language in a variety of ways.

How the Scottish Government will support Gaelic development in the future

The Scottish Government will continue to support Gaelic development in the ways described above. In addition, we will prioritise the actions set out below to accelerate Gaelic development and ensure that we continue to lead the way in creating a sustainable future for Gaelic. These actions are grouped under the Language Status, Language Acquisition and Language Usage headings of the Bòrd's National Plan to help make clear how our activities link with its implementation.

We will promote the acquisition and learning of Gaelic

The Scottish Government recognises that a sustainable future for Gaelic requires more people to learn the language and that attention requires to be focused on the home, education and adult learning as the key means of achieving this. We will take the following steps to help create a supportive environment for growing the number of Gaelic speakers in Scotland.

  • we will support and help implement recommendations from the National Gaelic Education Steering Group which has been established by Bòrd na Gàidhlig and which brings together all relevant interests in the Gaelic education sector, and we will seek specific advice from the group on a number of priority areas
  • we will maintain the system of specific grants for Gaelic education to help develop the Gaelic education sector and we have increased the funding available to local authorities to ensure that the development of new Gaelic units and dedicated schools are prioritised
  • the guidance on learning and teaching through Curriculum for Excellence recognises the value of using the culture, languages and literature of Scotland to prepare our young people for their role as citizens in a global society. The guidance recognises Gaelic as being a mainstream subject in the new curriculum - it provides a valuable resource for young people to learn about culture, identity and language in Scotland
  • the Experiences and Outcomes on Gàidhlig and literacy present a modern view of literacy and provide opportunities for learning about important aspects of Scottish culture and heritage and embed an understanding of Gaelic and Scottish culture. The framework provides, for learners, parents and teachers, broad descriptions of the range of learning opportunities which will contribute to the development of literacy, including critical literacy, creativity, and knowledge and appreciation of literature and culture
  • the experiences and outcomes in English and literacy also encourage engagement with Gaelic texts in translation
  • a Gaelic version of all the experiences and outcomes will be available before the start of the 2010/11 school year
  • we will promote Gaelic-medium education as a positive choice for parents, working with local authorities and Bòrd na Gàidhlig to deliver this
  • we will encourage and support the development of dedicated Gaelic medium schools, to help create the most productive environment for learning Gaelic in primary schools
  • we have established a Gaelic school capital fund to support local authorities
  • following a wide ranging public consultation the Scottish Government introduced the Schools (Consultation) Bill to Parliament and on 19 November 2009 it was passed unanimously. The Schools (Consultation) (Scotland) Act 2010, which came into force on 5 April 2010, will update and strengthen the consultation processes that local authorities apply to proposals for all major changes to their schools and will also introduce a presumption against the closure of rural schools. This reflects the important role rural schools can play in guaranteeing that Gaelic remains a feature of communities where it has traditionally been spoken. In addition the Act will place a new statutory duty on local authorities to include Bòrd na Gàidhlig as a mandatory consultee on any proposal that will affect the provision of Gaelic medium education in their area
  • alongside our key priority for the Scottish Funding Council of addressing the impact of the recession, we will continue to identify Gaelic as a high priority and support Sabhal Mòr Ostaig as a centre of excellence for Gaelic learning and cultural development
  • we will maintain funding for Bòrd na Gàidhlig's Gaelic Teacher Recruitment Officer to ensure that the Teachers' Action Group report is fully implemented, and we will investigate new ways of ensuring teacher supply matches demand
  • Bòrd na Gàidhlig will make progress with the implementation of the National Plan in the areas of home, early years and adult education
  • we will encourage NDPBs to support Gaelic language skills development amongst their staff
  • we will encourage Local Authorities and other bodies to undertake Gaelic linguistic skills surveys
  • we will continue to support the work of bodies, such as Learning Teaching Scotland, in the variety of services and resources they provide for Gaelic users
  • we will continue to support Stòrlann Nàiseanta na Gàidhlig, the organisation charged with co-ordinating the production and distribution of Gaelic educational resources throughout Scotland.

We will encourage the increased use of Gaelic

The Scottish Government recognises that creating a sustainable future for Gaelic requires not only increasing the number of people able to speak the language, but increasing actual usage. We recognise the importance of enabling more people to use Gaelic as their preferred and normal mode of communication in an increasingly wide range of daily activities. Along with the activities described in Chapter 2 on Core Commitments, the Scottish Government will take the following steps to help develop a more positive image for Gaelic:

  • we have provided additional funding to Bòrd na Gàidhlig to enable it to deliver key projects in the National Plan, with a prioritisation of those which will help develop Gaelic at the community
  • we will promote the use of Gaelic in the community and encourage local authorities and others to support developments in this area
  • we have supported the establishment of the MGALBA/ BBC partnership to deliver a Gaelic digital service and have provided the necessary funding to ensure the channel is established
  • we are working with the BBC Trust and BBC Alba to make progress towards successfully securing Freeview carriage as soon as possible to allow all of Scotland to watch it.
  • we will require Bòrd na Gàidhlig to make progress with National Plan implementation particularly in the areas of arts, publishing, media, community and the workplace
  • the Scottish Government is supportive of Gaelic culture and arts. We are committed to supporting and growing these areas which are of great importance to the whole of Scotland and that is why we have announced that Creative Scotland will support a position dedicated to working with partners on delivery of the National Gaelic Arts Strategy
  • we will look for opportunities to promote the Gaelic arts both in Scotland and internationally
  • the work to implement the current trunk road bilingual sign policy on those routes leading directly to Western Isles ferry ports is ongoing. This work will be evaluated to establish the impact of bilingual road signs on road safety and to inform future trunk road bilingual sign policy
  • we will look at how Gaelic can be incorporated in to the rail network
  • we will encourage tourism bodies to promote Gaelic at points of entry such as airports and ports and to look for opportunities to support Gaelic in their various initiatives
  • we recognise the importance of the profile of Gaelic in tourism, heritage and recreation sectors and we will seek to promote and encourage this where possible
  • we will encourage Bòrd na Gàidhlig to make progress with its proposed Gaelic language academy which will encourage bodies such as Scottish Qualification Authority, Learning Teaching Scotland, Stòrlann Nàiseanta na Gàidhlig, University of the Highlands and Islands ( UHI) and Ordnance Survey to make progress in working on the consistency, relevance and orthography of the Gaelic language.

We will enhance the status of Gaelic

The Scottish Government recognises that the status of a language is affected by its presence in the daily environment and the extent to which it is used, valued and perceived to be valued by those institutions which play an important role in our daily lives. Along with the activities described in Chapter 2 on Core Service Delivery Commitments, we will take the following steps to help develop a more positive image for Gaelic.

  • we will issue strategic guidance to the public sector and other relevant bodies explaining the policy background to the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005 and the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, the responsibilities which flow from them, and the need for bodies to plan for how they can assist with their implementation and support Gaelic development
  • we have prepared this statutory Gaelic Language Plan under the terms of the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005 setting out how the Scottish Government will use and enable the use of Gaelic in relation to its corporate identity, communications, publications and staffing
  • we will ensure support is provided to public bodies which have been issued with a notice to develop a Gaelic Language Plan by Bòrd na Gàidhlig to enable them to take a positive approach to the development of their Plans, and to bring tangible benefits to Gaelic speakers
  • we will encourage public bodies and executive agencies to develop Gaelic policies in advance of being requested to develop statutory Gaelic Language Plans by Bòrd na Gàidhlig to build momentum in implementation of the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005 and ensure the whole public sector plays its role supporting Gaelic development
  • we will use the corporate planning process to ensure that Government agencies, NDPBs and Health Authorities engage with the National Plan for Gaelic and identify areas where they can contribute to its implementation when they plan for their future operation
  • we will encourage the UK Government and its Departments and Agencies which operate in Scotland to play their part in supporting Gaelic development and implementing the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005 following the commitment which was given during the passage of the Act
  • we will assess the linguistic consequences of new policies or initiatives to ensure, as far as is reasonably possible, that they do not impact adversely on the use of Gaelic, and where possible we will ensure that they impact positively
  • we will consult Bòrd na Gàidhlig on any new policies or initiative which will have a direct impact on Gaelic development
  • working with other bodies with an interest in this area, such as Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Bòrd na Gàidhlig, we will undertake research into key areas of Gaelic development.


Email: – Central Enquiry Unit

Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road

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