“Curriculum areas are not just for timetabling and we have the freedom to think imaginatively about how the experiences and outcomes might be organised and planned for in creative ways which encourage deep, sustained learning and which meet the needs of our children.”
Calderglen School handbook
The Modern Languages and Gaelic faculty has the full support of senior management and the education authority in planning provision for language learning. Within the local cluster, professional network group meetings are held several times a year giving colleagues the opportunity to share resources and approaches to language learning and teaching. Primary and secondary colleagues arrange visits between schools to learn from each other’s practice thus making transition from P7 into S1 more effective and sustainable. Continuity and progression are felt to be important principals that reinforce language study for all throughout the broad general education. This provides a solid foundation for learners to pursue language learning in the senior phase to achieve SQA accreditation.
In this video clip, Rhoda Kirkwood from Mount Cameron primary school talks about liaison between the sectors and progression from primary language learning into the secondary school.
Modern languages are given momentum through a collaborative approach to learning. Staff members demonstrate enthusiasm for languages and actively participate in whole school language events like European Day of Languages and the S3 Languages Work event.
Pupils learning through Gaelic medium are given a wealth of opportunities to celebrate wider achievement. Every year, pupils from Calderglen High School are encouraged to participate in nation-wide learning events and competitions such as FilmG, Deasbad BT Alba, The Royal National Mòd and BBC School Report. Locally organised events such as the Mòd in East Kilbride, The Gaelic Literature Festival and school visits/workshops with Gaelic personalities all provide relevant contexts through which Gàidhlig learning is enhanced. Interest is further sustained through planned interdisciplinary projects which provide new and appealing contexts for learning.
At S2, all learners are released from normal timetabling for the month of May so that they can participate in a range of linked interdisciplinary activities that have “The Future” as a context. The most recent activity was planned in collaboration with home economics and concerned futuristic food choices.
Pupils also benefit from strong partnerships with the wider Gaelic-speaking community, locally and nationally, and with Gaelic-speaking media. Having recently received funding for a range of broadcast grade media equipment the department can now offer pupils the opportunitiy to learn filming/production skills as part of their classroom learning, while providing exciting opportunities for extra-curricular projects in the wider community. With guidance from staff and the continued support of former pupils, senior learners lead a variety of clubs targeted at younger learners and the wider community. One such initiative is the monthly “Tea Club” which invited Gaelic speakers in the local area in to the school for refreshments and the chance to converse entirely in Gaelic with the young people. This initiative was very successful in the past and is being reintroduced this session. Such projects help forge good working relationships, help smooth transitions and firmly establish Gaelic as the language used between all Gaelic learners in the wider school community.
Engagement with Gaelic speakers in a range of professions continues to impact positively on learners. Young people in S1 studying the Myles Campbell novel “Clann a’ Phroifeasair” had the unique opportunity to take part in a Skype conference with the author, who answered their questions directly from the arts centre on the Isle of Skye. Additionally, representatives from the Gaelic college in Skye visit the school to discuss career paths with senior pupils. This year, we are looking at plans to take S4/5 pupils on a school trip to Sabhal Mòr Ostaig (The National Centre for Gaelic Language and Culture); where social as well as curricular immersion in the language would be of particular benefit to learners. In addition the college serves as a hub for other Gaelic bodies such as Cànan and Sealladh TV/Young Films and hosts a programme of residencies for artists in music, literature and the visual arts. Experience of the campus and the surrounding community will undoubtedly expand the horizons of pupils involved.