New hub for e-Sgoil virtual Gaelic school opened in North Uist
Virtual classroom - Image credit: Fleep Tuque via Flickr
A new satellite hub for the online distance learning Gaelic school e-Sgoil has been opened in the former Carinish School building in North Uist by Education Secretary John Swinney.
The virtual Gaelic school was launched just over a year ago by Bòrd na Gàidhlig, the Gaelic language board, to provide connectivity between schools in the Western Isles and beyond, and to offer improved subject access and learning opportunities for Gaelic-medium secondaries and teachers across the country.
Last August the project was given a boost when the Scottish Government pledged £700,000 in addition to the initial £150,000 two-year funding from Bòrd na Gàidhlig.
An independent external review that was completed recently to mark one year since e-Sgoil was established was positive about the opportunities it offered the area.
It said: “As we approach the end of the planning year and significantly, the first year of senior phase delivery across the four schools of the Western Isles, there is much to be optimistic about.
“Given the continued buy in locally, and also assuming there is national involvement in schools across Scotland, e-Sgoil has the potential to place the Western Isles at the centre of national policy development and associated transformational change, and in so doing, be a key part of what education in Scotland does to enhance opportunities for all learners and educators no matter their location.”
Swinney said: “e-Sgoil shows the positive impact of digital technology on education in remote and rural areas by allowing all learners to access the curriculum in both English and Gaelic through online distance learning.
“I am delighted the Scottish Government is supporting this great project and we are committed to ensuring that all learners can experience an education enriched by digital technology – this is why we have published a Digital Learning and Teaching Strategy for Scotland.”
Councillor Angus McCormack, Chairman of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s Education and Children’s Services Committee, added: “Research indicates that there is demand from young people for opportunities to study and work on the islands.
“e-Sgoil is significantly enhancing the use and availability of Gàidhlig and other subjects and widening the range of study options – both traditional and applied learning.”
While in Uist Swinney also met with some of the Comhairle’s new apprentices as part of their induction programme.
The apprenticeships are part of a drive to keep young people in the islands by providing opportunities for them close to home.