Teaching in Gaelic (English Version)


Teaching in Gaelic

This page is also available in Gaelic

Teaching in Gaelic plays a vital role in the efforts to revitalise one of Scotland’s national languages. Scottish Gaelic is a living language spoken by over 50,000 people, in both rural communities and in the heart of cities.

Teachers in Gaelic have a key role in developing young people’s language skills through immersion in the language, while developing the cognitive benefits of bilingualism. They also foster citizenship and confidence through the vital and valuable Gaelic culture and heritage that belongs to everyone in Scotland regardless of the language they speak at home.

"I once worked with a teacher who said that the teacher was the absolutely best resource we had for keeping Gaelic alive. I think about her words often to keep myself going! Teachers of the highest quality in the Gaelic classroom have an incredibly positive impact upon pupils’ attainment"Alasdair MacPhee – Gaelic Teacher at Bun-sgoil Chnoc a' Chonaidg/Whinhill Primary School
Alasdair MacPhee

The opportunities in teaching in Gaelic

Teaching in Gaelic is an opportunity for teachers to gain valuable experience and to make a real difference not just to young people but as a crucial part of Scotland’s culture. Those who are new to the profession might find that working in Gaelic allows them to use their creativity, develop their leadership skills and get involved in a close-knit but widespread national teaching community through networks such as Stòrlann Nàiseanta na Gàidhlig and CLAS.

And it’s not just the teaching opportunities that are attractive. Many schools which deliver Gaelic Education are in some of Scotland’s most beautiful rural locations, as well as in the centres of its vibrant cities.

The need for teachers in Gaelic

The Scottish Government works with Bòrd na Gàidhlig to encourage more teachers to work in Gaelic. This is a key goal within the  Scottish Government Gaelic Language Plan, given the staffing needs of Gaelic Education. Demand for Gaelic Medium Education is growing rapidly due to the benefits of immersion and bilingualism and teachers with Gaelic are in high demand in both primary and secondary, all across Scotland.

To help solve the problem of staff supply, Bòrd na Gàidhlig runs the Sgeama Tabhartasan Foghlaim – the Educational Grants Scheme every year. This scheme provides grants for Initial Teacher Education (ITE) students for two years of an undergraduate programme or for the one year of a postgraduate scheme. It also provides support grants for those who have left employment to pursue teaching, as well as assist with fees where SAAS funding is not available.

Applying for the Sgeama Tabhartasan Foghlaim doesn’t stop you applying for other support such as the STEM Bursary (who encourage Gaelic speakers to apply) if you are eligible.

For further information on teaching Gaelic in Scotland, check out the General Teaching Council’s helpful guide:

How to teach in Gaelic?

Teaching in Gaelic can be done across a wide variety of roles and sectors. Firstly at primary school level, where you can work in Gaelic Medium Education where children are immersed in the language from Early Years or Primary One, receiving all their subjects through the medium of Gaelic. 

Gaelic Medium Education is equivalent to an English Medium Education but with the additional aspect of bilingualism. 

To become a teacher, you will need a recognised Initial Teacher Education (ITE) qualification. This can either be an undergraduate qualification or a postgraduate qualification.

In order to be eligible for an ITE, you will need the following: 

  • a National Qualification in English at SCQF level 6 (e.g. Higher Grade) or an accepted alternative
  • a National Qualification in Mathematics at SCQF level 5 (e.g. National 5) or an accepted alternative 
  • for teaching in the medium of Gaelic it is recommended that you hold a National Qualification in Gàidhlig or Gaelic (Learners) at SCQF level 6 (e.g. Higher Grade) or an accepted alternative
  • the ability to talk, read and write with a proficient level of fluency. For most programmes, it is recommended that your ability matches C1 or C2 on the Common European Framework of Reference to Languages (CEFR) to Language Learning scale.

Primary Education

To work in Gaelic Medium Primary Education you can either do a dedicated Gaelic Medium pathway course (which also allows you to teach in English Medium). Alternatively if you have studied an English Medium ITE course, you can work in Gaelic Medium Education if you can show employers that you have the required fluency and literacy skills to teach in Gaelic as well.

To qualify as a primary school teacher for Gaelic Medium Education you will require either:

  • Undergraduate qualification such as an MA or BA (Hons) Degree in Education at SCQF level 10
  • a postgraduate qualification such as a Professional Graduate Diploma in Education or Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) at SCQF Level 11, as well as a relevant undergraduate degree at SCQF Level 9 or 10.

Secondary Education

At secondary level, teachers in Gaelic can be subject specialists, dual-qualified in both Gàidhlig and Gaelic (Learners), continuing to provide immersion education for young people in Gaelic Medium Education or teaching Gaelic as a Modern Language. 

To qualify as a secondary teacher in Gaelic Education you must meet the same criteria as teachers in English Medium Education:

  • an Undergraduate qualification such as an MA or BA (Hons) Degree in Education at SCQF level 10 
  • or a postgraduate qualification such as 
    • a Professional Graduate Diploma in Education 
    • or a Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) at SCQF Level 11
    • In addition to either of those degrees a relevant undergraduate degree at SCQF Level 9 or 10 is required.

To qualify as a secondary teacher of Gàidhlig and Gaelic (Learners) you must have:

  • a degree in Gaelic or Celtic (specialising in Scottish Gaelic) plus a Professional Graduate Diploma in Education (PGDE)
  • OR the BA (Honours) undergraduate degree in Gaelic with Education.

Teachers in Gaelic can also be subject specialists in any of the subjects offered in Scotland. Teaching their subject e.g. Mathematics or Modern Studies, through the Medium of Gaelic, deepening and strengthening the language skills of their pupils.

To qualify as a secondary school teacher teaching a specific subject in the medium of Gaelic, you must have: 

  • a degree in your specialist subject plus a Professional Graduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) 
  • OR a four year undergraduate degree with your specialist subject with Education
  • You must be able to show your employers that you have the required fluency and literacy skills to teach in Gaelic as well.

The University of Strathclyde and University of the Highlands and Islands provide specific Gaelic Medium Education qualification pathways for ITE students who want to be able to deliver their specialist subject through the medium of Gaelic as well as English.

For further information on teaching Gaelic in Scotland, check out the General Teaching Council’s helpful guide:

Benefits of teaching in Gaelic

Teachers in Gaelic provide great value to the lives of their pupils and the local area, as they make Gaelic relevant and use their skills and interests to do so. They prepare and take groups of young people to Mòds and Fèisean, run shinty and football teams, help make short films with drama groups for the FilmG, teach cèilidh bands and traditional music, and all whilst staying involved in whole school activities and contributing to the life of the school community. 

As you might expect, this experience also benefits your own skills, developing leadership and enterprise, as well as creating a strong bond with your pupils and community. As a teacher in Gaelic you can fuse your passions with the subject you love to give a real boost to the young people, the school, and the language all at the same time.

If you don’t speak (fluent) Gaelic

Indeed, fluency in Gaelic is vital to being able to teach in Gaelic. But if you don’t have Gaelic skills or have only the basics, this doesn’t stop you setting out on the path to teaching in Gaelic. 

If you pursue an undergraduate degree, there are Initial Teacher Education courses available for both beginners and intermediate learners which allow you to develop fluency in the language whilst also developing your teaching skills. 

If you are following a postgraduate route, you should be fluent on entry, as there won’t be time in your ITE course to develop language skills. Therefore you may wish to study Gaelic modules during your undergraduate degree. 

Alternatively, there are several Career Long Professional Learning (CLPL) options for you once you qualify, depending on your existing level of Gaelic skills to improve your Gaelic language ability. 

These include:

  • Gaelic Language in the Primary School (which allows Gaelic to be taught as an L2 or L3 in Primary Schools), 
  • Gaelic Immersion for Teachers (a yearlong placement on an immersion course) 
  • STREAP course as run by University of Aberdeen and Sabhal Mòr Ostaig UHI. 
    • This one-year programme combines online and campus learning and is fully taught in the medium of Gaelic. It is fully funded by the Scottish Government, including travel and accommodation expenses as well as supply cover for the student’s school.
  • You can use the Common European Framework of Reference to Languages or the Learn Gaelic CLAG scale in order to work out your current language level. 


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