ACCESS TO GAELIC MEDIUM EDUCATION IN PERTH & KINROSS

  The issue of access to Gaelic medium education in Perth & Kinross was raised in the Scottish Parliament this week after MSP Murdo Fraser called on the Scottish Government to ensure that there is not a two-tier education system in the delivery of Gaelic medium education. The Mid-Scotland & Fife Conservative MSP quizzed Alasdair Allan MSP, Minister for Learning, Science and Scotland's Languages on the subject during Ministers’ Question Time.  In the Debating Chamber, Murdo Fraser said: “The minister knows that I recently wrote to him about free transport provision for Gaelic-medium education. Does he agree that, when a local authority in a large rural area provides Gaelic-medium education only at one or two schools and does not provide free transport for pupils of those schools who live a considerable distance from them, it creates a two-tier system in which Gaelic-medium education is available only to pupils whose parents can afford to pay the transport cost? That is regrettable and the Scottish Government should take action on that.” In response, Alasdair Allan MSP stated: “I welcome the sentiments behind that question and the support for Gaelic-medium education. Arrangements for school transport are obviously a matter for local authorities, but it will not come as a surprise to the member to hear that I urge all local authorities to do everything to ensure that every parent who wishes their child to have Gaelic-medium education is allowed that.” Afterwards, Murdo Fraser MSP said: “It is important that the Scottish Government understands what is happening on the ground in relation to the roll out and access to Gaelic medium education.  “Only two schools across Perth & Kinross Council offer Gaelic medium education at the moment – Goodlyburn in Perth and Breadalbane in Aberfeldy.  As Perth & Kinross Council do not provide transport to children to access Gaelic medium education, a two-tier education system has been created as a consequence: those families who are able to afford to transport their children to a school that provides Gaelic education and those families who are unable to afford to transport their children, and are thus deprived of access to Gaelic medium education.  This is a particularly relevant issue in Perth & Kinross due to the local authority being a large rural area. “The Scottish Government must act to ensure that transport costs do not act as a barrier to children who want to learn through Gaelic medium education in Perth & Kinross.”