Publication - Consultation paper

Gaelic Language Plan 2015-2020: draft for consultation

Published: 27 Apr 2015
Learning Directorate
Part of:
Arts, culture and sport

Draft Scottish Government plan regarding the development of Gaelic.

Gaelic Language Plan 2015-2020: draft for consultation
Chapter III: Commitments To The National Gaelic Language Plan

Chapter III: Commitments To The National Gaelic Language Plan

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 Gaelic Language Plan and to take a lead in delivering aspects of it. The National Gaelic Language Plan focuses on initiatives that will increase the number of speakers of Gaelic in Scotland and expand the range of situations in which Gaelic is used.

With the National Gaelic Language Plan 2012-17 and in the years that follow, Bòrd na Gàidhlig will work with the Scottish Government in striving to ensure the proportion of Gaelic Speakers in Scotland is restored, by 2021, to the levels recorded in the 2001 Census. The outcomes set out by the national plan are summarised below.

Summary of Outcomes from the National Gaelic Language Plan

Home and Early Years

An increase in the acquisition and use of Gaelic by young people in the home and increased numbers of children entering Gaelic-medium early years education.

Education: Schools & Teachers

An increase in the number of children enrolling in Gaelic-medium education ( GME), doubling the current annual intake to 800 by 2017.

A year on year increase in the number of pupils engaged in Gaelic-learner education ( GLE) in both primary and secondary schools.

An expansion in the availability of Gaelic-medium subjects in secondary schools.

Education: Post-school Education

An increase in the number of adults acquiring Gaelic from the current total of around 2,000 to 3,000 by 2017 and enhanced language skills among fluent Gaelic speakers.


More opportunities for communities and networks of Gaelic speakers of all kinds to use Gaelic and increased use of the language in community activities and services.


Expansion of the use of Gaelic in places of work and an increase in employment opportunities where Gaelic skills are required in order to enable service delivery in the language.

Arts & Media

Development of Gaelic arts and media as a means of promoting the language, attracting people to it and enhancing their commitment through opportunities to learn, use and develop Gaelic.

Heritage & Tourism

An increased profile for Gaelic in the heritage and tourism sectors and increased use of Gaelic in the interpretation of Scotland's history and culture.


Co-ordination of the initiatives of parties active in Gaelic language corpus development to achieve enhanced strength, relevance, consistency and visibility of the Gaelic language in Scotland.

Scottish Government National Outcomes

The following table demonstrates how the Scottish Government's National Outcomes relate and feed in to the development areas of the National Plan for Gaelic.

Development Area National Outcome: Number and statement
Home & Early Years
5 Our children have the best chance in life and are ready to succeed.
4 Our young people are successful learners, confident individuals, effective contributors and responsible citizens.
3 We are better educated, more skilled and more successful, renowned for our research and innovation.
11 We have strong, resilient and supportive communities where people take responsibility for their own actions and how they affect others.
2 We realise our full economic potential with more and better employment opportunities for our people.
6 We live longer, healthier lives.
Arts and Media
Heritage and Tourism
13 We take a pride in a strong, fair and inclusive national identity
The whole plan 16 Our public services are high quality, continually improving, efficient and responsive to local people's needs.
7 We have tackled the significant inequalities in Scottish society.

The ways in which the Scottish Government currently supports Gaelic development

The Scottish Government 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 nine Agencies of the Scottish Government (details of these can be found on our website). The provisions of this Gaelic Language Plan will also cover the operations of these Agencies. In some cases Agencies have distinctive roles 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.

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.

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 annual budget is £5.1m in 2015/16 and through this it supports a range of Gaelic development bodies to undertake development work in education, home and community. Bòrd na Gàidhlig is the lead body for driving implementation of the National Plan for Gaelic and the key projects within it. In addition to this, Bòrd na Gàidhlig has received additional Scottish Government funding for projects to promote Gaelic education.

Meadhanan Gàidhlig Alba

MG ALBA receives £12.8m (in 2015/16) from the Scottish Government. With this support, MG ALBA, in partnership with the BBC Trust, operates BBC Alba, the Gaelic television service. The Scottish Government has funded additional projects in partnership with MG ALBA including FilmG training and awards, the Learn Gaelic website, the Creative Industries and Media Centre and additional funding annually for programming.

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 a scheme of Specific Grants for Gaelic Education to ensure that the development of Gaelic education continues to expand and is prioritised, which currently totals £4.482m in 2015/16. Authorities may also apply for capital funding for infrastructure related to the provision of Gaelic education, with £10.7m spent between 2010 and 2015.

Legislation with Gaelic provisions applying to authorities includes the Education (Scotland) Act 1980, the Standards in Scotland's Schools etc. Act 2000, the Schools (Consultation) (Scotland) Act 2010 and the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005. The Education (Scotland) Bill 2015, currently before Parliament, includes substantial Gaelic provisions which apply to local authorities and Bòrd na Gàidhlig.

Stòrlann Nàiseanta na Gàidhlig

Stòrlann was established by the Scottish Government in 1999 to coordinate the production and distribution of curriculum resources for Gaelic education. Stòrlann receives funding from the Scottish Government annually, with strategic planning and implementation supported by local authorities through the Management Review Group ( MRG) consortium and other organisations. Stòrlann plays a vital role in making learning materials available to local authorities and other providers of Gaelic education, ensuring its viability and growth for years to come.

Other 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, Education Scotland, and the Scottish Funding Council, each of which have their own Gaelic Language Plan.

Higher Education

Sabhal Mòr Ostaig in Skye, the National Centre for Gaelic Language and Culture, receives annual funding from the Scottish Government towards delivering Gaelic Higher Education and facilities for adult learners of Gaelic. In addition to this funding, the Scottish Government has supported additional projects with SMO including the Fàs Centre for Creative and Cultural Industries, the ConnectG Project, Ionad Chaluim Chille Ìle and the establishment of a Gaelic village at Kilbeg.

The Scottish Government has supported research and courses related to Gaelic development and education at Edinburgh University, Heriot Watt University, Strathclyde University, University of Glasgow and University of the Highlands and Islands

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 and a range of community development initiatives, and recently published a survey detailing the value of Gaelic as an economic asset to businesses and communities in Scotland.

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. Creative Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage, National Records of Scotland, and others are all involved in promoting and supporting the Gaelic language in a variety of ways.

Additional funding

The Scottish Government has, in addition to the above, directly supported several projects and organisations in line with the implementation of the National Plan for Gaelic. This includes support for An Comunn Gàidhealach for the Royal National Mòd, Ceòlas, Comunn Eachdraidh Nis, Comunn na Gàidhlig, Fèisean nan Gàidheal, Glasgow Life, Pròiseact nan Ealan and Tobar an Dualchais.

National Gaelic Language Plan & The Scottish Government

The Scottish Government has a key role in the funding of Bòrd na Gàidhlig and in an advisory capacity to ensuring the fulfilment of the National Gaelic Language Plan. The aims below, continued from the previous Scottish Government Gaelic Language Plan 2010-2015, set out various ways the Scottish Government will continue to support Gaelic development in the future.

These are related to the four key Gaelic Language Planning categories listed below.

These are:

  • Aquisition: enabling people to develop speaking, reading and writing skills in Gaelic
  • Usage: enabling the use of Gaelic in a range of social, formal and work setting
  • Status: expanding visibility, audibility, recognition and respect for Gaelic
  • Corpus: developing the quality, consistency and richness of the Gaelic language


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 the National Gaelic Education Steering Group, consisting of all relevant interests in the Gaelic education sector and help Bòrd na Gàidhlig in the implementation of its recommendations
  • We will continue to operate the system of specific grants for Gaelic education to help develop the Gaelic education sector, and continue the progress which has been made in additional funding, increased resources, capital support and support for teacher education
  • We will continue to provide additional funding for projects related to Gaelic Medium Education and Gaelic for learners in Scotland.
  • We will continue to promote Gaelic Medium Education as a positive choice for parents, working with local authorities and Bòrd na Gàidhlig to deliver this across Scotland.
  • We will continue to promote Gaelic Language in the Primary School ( GLPS), working with local authorities, Education Scotland and SCILT to develop the framework and encourage its uptake across schools
  • We will continue to encourage and support the development of dedicated Gaelic medium schools, and Gaelic status schools, to help create the most productive environment for learning Gaelic.
  • We will continue to administer the Gaelic school capital fund to support local authorities with infrastructure for the provision of Gaelic education.
  • The Education (Scotland) Bill 2015, introduced to the Scottish Parliament in March 2015, contains significant provisions for Gaelic education, providing a statutory process by which parents can request consideration by their Local Authority of the provision of Gaelic Medium Education for their child.
  • We will continue to regard Gaelic adult education as a high priority, supporting Sabhal Mòr Ostaig as a centre for Gaelic learning and cultural development, and a range of other Gaelic adult education initiatives.
  • We will maintain funding for Bòrd na Gàidhlig's Gaelic Teacher Recruitment Officer.
  • We will work with Local Authorities to ensure the development of workforce planning for Gaelic schools.
  • We will work with all interested parties to investigate new ways of ensuring teacher supply matches demand.
  • We will encourage Local Authorities to consider Gaelic as L1, L2 or L3 languages under the 1+2 language initiative.
  • 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.


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. The Scottish Government will take the following steps to help enable the use of Gaelic in a range of social, formal and work settings:

  • We will continue to support Bòrd na Gàidhlig to enable it to deliver key objectives in the National Gaelic Language Plan, with a prioritisation of those which will help develop Gaelic in 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 will continue to support MG ALBA and its partnership with the BBC Trust in the delivery of the Gaelic Media Service, BBC Alba
  • We will support Bòrd na Gàidhlig in making progress with National Gaelic Language Plan implementation in the areas of arts, publishing, media, community and the workplace.
  • We will support Gaelic culture and arts projects, working with partners to deliver the National Gaelic Arts Strategy and to promote Gaelic arts both in Scotland and internationally.
  • We will continue to work to increase the public profile of Gaelic through encouraging bilingual signage policies where possible on transport links and infrastructure.
  • We will continue to include Gaelic in our work in communities through projects connected to crofting and the Scottish Rural Network.
  • We will encourage the promotion of Gaelic in tourism, heritage and recreation sectors.


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. The Scottish Government will take the following steps to help expand visibility, audibility, recognition and respect for Gaelic, developing a more positive image.

  • 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 operations. The plan has been monitored and updated for this second iteration.
  • We will continue to 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 consult Bòrd na Gàidhlig on any new policies or initiatives which will have a direct impact on Gaelic development.
  • We will support key areas of Gaelic research, in partnership with other bodies with an interest in this area, such as Bòrd na Gàidhlig, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and universities across Scotland.
  • We will continue to support the languages of Scotland through our participation in the British Irish Council including its Indigenous, Minority and Lesser Used Languages workstream.
  • We will look to identify how Gaelic can be incorporated in to national advertising campaigns.


The Scottish Government recognises that the development of initiatives to achieve enhanced strength, relevance, consistency and visibility of the Gaelic language is vital to the future of the language in a modern Scotland. The Scottish Government will take the following steps to ensure the quality, consistency and richness of the Gaelic language.

  • We will work with Bòrd na Gàidhlig on corpus planning activities in association with relevant bodies such as the Scottish Qualifications Authority, Education Scotland, Faclair na Gàidhlig, Stòrlann Nàiseanta na Gàidhlig and universities.
  • 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 continue to work with Ainmean Àite na h-Alba (Gaelic Place-Names of Scotland) to ensure consistent orthography of Gaelic in place-names.
  • We will work with those undertaking research in this area to improve the quality of the Gaelic language.


Email: Ruaraidh MacIntyre

Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road