Photo of teachers working at computers on the new 'Streap' courseA new on-line course for teachers who are fluent in Gaelic and have an interest in developing their language skills in order to become Gaelic-medium teachers began at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig this week. The course has been fully funded by the Scottish Executive, and developed by the Lifelong Learning team at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig in partnership with the University of Aberdeen. In the pilot phase, teachers have been recruited from three local authorities: Highland, Western Isles and North Lanarkshire.

The first group of four teachers (two from secondary and two from primary schools) attended a three-day induction last week in Skye, where they learnt about the course and the support available to them. Three teachers from the Western Isles are also due to attend a similar induction course.

The course, consisting of three modules, will run for six months, from January to June. The delivery of the course is mixed mode, consisting mainly of online contact, but also of face to face sessions, telephone tutorials, tutor and mentor support. It can be accessed by teachers from their place of work or their home.

The participants will be supported by a language tutor throughout. They will also receive support from subject mentors for both primary and secondary lesson-planning, from technical advisers at Cànan, from the Course Adviser Christina Walker (from the School of Education, University of Aberdeen) and from staff at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig.

It is expected that the course will be offered to teachers from other authorities once the pilot has been completed and evaluated.

Alison Dix, Head of Lifelong Learning at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig and Project Manager for the new course said, “We are delighted at the interest which has been shown in ‘Streap’ by teachers from the three pilot authorities. ‘Streap’ will offer support and encouragement to teachers who may be considering a transfer to Gaelic-medium or wish to gain confidence in their Gaelic language skills. Because the materials are on-line, the course is well-suited to busy professional people, who can now choose when and where they study.

“Those who attended the recent induction found it very useful, especially because of the opportunity they had to see the course on-line and also to meet their tutor, Janet MacDonald who is based in Mull, and mentors, Murdo Beaton (Portree High School), Flossie Macdougall (Portree Primary School) and Norman Macarthur from Dingwall Academy. The fourth mentor is Julie MacNeil. We are confident that this new course will provide the support which participating teachers require, and hope to offer it on a regular basis as long as demand exists.”

Christina Walker, Gaelic Lecturer at Aberdeen University, added that she hopes that this course will be act as a significant stepping stone in the continuing professional development of Gaelic medium teachers at both primary and secondary level.

Anyone who would like to find out more about the course should contact Alison Dix at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig on 01471 888 430.