Gàidhlig is alive and well in Kingussie High School. Gàidhlig is hugely important as part of Scotland’s heritage and culture but also locally given Badenoch’s important links with amongst many things, shinty.
Pupils are in a very fortunate position in being able to be bilingual. Various studies over recent years have proven the advantages which this has in a whole number of areas. Over the years pupils have progressed from S1 through to S5 with a number of pupils continuing on to S6 and gaining Advanced Higher qualifications in Gàidhlig. In over 20 years, very few pupils have decided not to continue with their Gàidhlig studies. A number of former pupils have gone on to be employed in Gàidhlig related jobs such as teaching, media and childcare.
Under Curriculum for Excellence, pupils follow the Broad General Education in S1 – S3. In the senior phase, pupils who opt to study Gàidhlig have a choice of National Courses, Higher and Advanced Higher.
The courses draw on a broad variety of contexts such as holidays, sport, hobbies, war, health and wellbeing, work and the local area. Pupils will also study short novels, short stories, poetry and media texts.
At all years, pupils’ breadth of language is developed along with their accuracy in spelling and grammar. A range of skills are also developed. In addition to talking, listening, reading and writing pupils also develop critical and analytical skills, presentational devices, ICT skills, research techniques, organisational skills, independent learning, responsibility and the confidence to use the language in a range of contexts.
At National 3 and 4 the course is assessed internally and there is no external examination. Work is continuously assessed and goes forward towards the final overall course award. Pupils cover a number of units and complete different outcomes within them building up a complete record of their coursework in the form of a performance folio. All work must be submitted and units passed in order to gain a course award.
The course at National 5 covers the same format of units however there is an external examination which must be passed in order to gain a course award. This consists of a reading and writing paper; where candidates answer close reading questions on a given text and write a response to a piece of literature studied during the course and a listening paper where candidates answer questions on a spoken text. In addition, at all levels candidates will also complete an assignment which is a short research project on a Gaelic related topic.
At Higher and Advanced Higher, more independence and responsibility is expected of pupils to contribute to how they organise their learning with project work and independent research. Courses build on the skills developed in previous years and follow much the same structure as National courses with different units which are assessed internally and which must be passed before the overall course award can be gained.
All courses are part of a hierarchical system of progression which allows learners to progress through the range of qualifications. Entry to courses and progression is subject to achievement and work done in previous levels of qualifications. These new qualifications are also externally verified to ensure validity and consistent standards.
All courses are taught through the medium of Gaelic. Pupils are expected to show commitment to their work and to give of their best so prescribing to the school motto ‘gu dichiollach’.
Pupils are encouraged to borrow and read books from the class library and to use BBC Alba as a medium for enhancing a range of skills to provide an awareness and understanding of current issues related to Gaelic as a language and culture.
Homework is a necessary and very important element of the course. Pupils are expected to revise vocabulary and grammar covered within lessons but homework can also involve finishing class work and essay writing. Pupils have a homework diary and a personal learning log and they are expected to become more independent in their organisation of time and their learning.
To learn any language and to be able to communicate and use it day to day is an advantage to anyone no matter if they have little direct desire to go on to Gàidhlig related employment not least as regards the interdisciplinary connections which can be made in helping with other subject areas. Learning Gàidhlig, through the medium of Gàidhlig allows pupils to achieve this – cleachd i no caill i.