Initial teacher education for minority medium-of-instruction teaching: the case study of Scottish Gaelic in Scotland

Lindsay Milligan Dombrowski*, Eilidh Danson, Mike Danson, Douglas Chalmers, Peter Neil

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Gaelic medium education (GME) was established in Scotland in 1985, with 24 students enrolled in that year [Bòrd na Gàidhlig. (n.d.). Gaelic education. Retrieved May 20, 2013, from (Bòrd na Gàidhlig website)]. Since this time, growth within GME has been incremental, and in 2011-2012, there were reported to be 2418 GME primary pupils and 1104 GME secondary pupils in Scottish schools [Galloway, J. (2012). Gaelic education data 2011-2012. Retrieved from]. In many ways, these enrolment figures should be seen as a positive achievement for Gaelic language-planning, and yet they also constitute a logistical problem for middle and senior management within the Scottish education system. With limited number of capable and qualified GME teachers, and few individuals opting to undertake initial teacher education (ITE) for GME, many schools struggle to maintain current levels of provision from year to year. Nevertheless, language-planning efforts to grow provision of GME in Scotland are underway, with national commitments being articulated and directed through top-down processes championed by Bòrd na Gàidhlig, the Gaelic Language Board. Although Bòrd na Gàidhlig has the authority and remit to oversee language-planning for Gaelic in Scotland, its agency is not sufficiently great to bypass the staffing issues that threaten to leave GME growth at a standstill: retirement, job change, and low enrolment into ITE for GME. The issue of teacher shortages for GME is one that threatens to undermine broader goals for acquisition planning; previous research has documented that existing teacher shortages already result in restricted subject provision at secondary, discontinuity when supply teaching is required, and long-term vacancies. Thus, there is a demonstrable need for more GME teachers, which may not be adequately addressed through current ITE provision. This article discusses existing ITE provision for GME, and considers the challenge posed to national language-planning efforts by current trends in teacher provision and education.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119-132
Number of pages14
JournalCurrent Issues in Language Planning
Issue number2
Early online date28 Aug 2013
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2014


  • education
  • Gaelic
  • Gaelic Language Board
  • minority language
  • Scotland
  • teacher training

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language


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