On visiting Sabhal Mòr Ostaig on Monday [19.11.07], little did Cabinet Secretary for Education, Fiona Hyslop, expect to be joining 1st year students in their Gaelic immersion class. That was exactly what happened, however, and both students and lecturer were very impressed. 

Course Leader Murdo MacLeod commented "The Minister got involved with interest and willingness when it would have been much easier to give a speech or speak to the class in English. She understood the philosophy of Sabhal Mòr Ostaig and how the language is used here. This showed real awareness and we respected her for that.  It’s not everyone who would be so perceptive.” 

The Education Secretary said of her visit to the college, “Sabhal Mòr Ostaig has a unique role to play in Scotland as part of our work to promote and protect our Gaelic language, heritage and culture.”

"We're committed to improving the status of the Gaelic language throughout Scotland and Sabhal Mòr Ostaig can make a distinctive contribution to further and higher education in Scotland, as well as revitalising the rural economy of Skye.”

She continued "Gaelic medium education continues to grow in popularity in primary and secondary schools throughout Scotland and Sabhal Mòr Ostaig shows these pupils that they can aspire to continue their Gaelic studies beyond school."

Ms Hyslop was piped into the College by first year student, Iain Donald McGillivray, before she met with staff and students on a tour of the facilities.  College Director, Professor Norman Gillies said, “We were delighted that the Education Secretary visited the College.  We have worked very hard over a number of years to achieve the recognition and reputation that we now enjoy.” 

“Sabhal Mòr Ostaig is now recognised as the National Centre for Gaelic language and culture and we take a holistic approach to our mission encompassing teaching and learning, research, culture and economic development. We have achieved much but we want to do much more to help achieve and deliver the targets contained in the National Plan for Gaelic, as endorsed by the Scottish Government.”

The children at Sleat Primary were also very excited by the visit, as the entourage arrived in two helicopters on the school pitch. Ms Hyslop was presented with a bouquet of flowers and she was more than happy to spend some time with the children.

Accompanying her on her visit to Skye were Sir Tom Farmer and the Rev. Norman Drummond, Founder and Chairman of Columba 1400. After their visit to Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, they travelled up to Columba 1400, in the north end of Skye.