Janitors and dinner ladies need to speak Gaelic at Edinburgh school


JANITORS and dinner ladies will have to speak Gaelic if they want to bag a job at a new school – in Edinburgh.

The posts at Parkside Primary – or Bun-sgoil Taobh na Pairc – demand use of the Gaelic-speaking support staff so children will be “completely immersed” in the learning the lingo.

The £3.5m school is due to be opened in August this year as part of the Scottish Government’s commitment to increasing the number of Gaelic speakers.


It is hoped that children will better learn the language if all employees speak the language (pic: Husond)
It is hoped that children will better learn the language if all employees speak the language (pic: Husond)


But the recruitment of Gaelic-speaking janitors and dinner ladies is likely to reignite the row over imposing the language outside of its traditional areas.

At the weekend, an author said forcing Gaelic on the lowlands was “absurd”.

The school’s head teacher Anne MacPhail said yesterday: “Parkside will be based on the principal of complete immersion.

“The children will be hearing Gaelic all day long and will gradually begin to use the language themselves.”

Ms MacPhail also said school office workers as well as catering staff and janitors will also have to have an ability in Gaelic.

She added: “We’re looking for staff who can speak Gaelic or are willing to learn it because we want children to hear it in a range of situations and not just in the classroom.”

Some phrases children could hear ringing through the corridors include ‘Sguir a’ruith anns an trannsa’ – which means ‘Stop running in the corridor’.

And dinner ladies might say ‘A bheil thu ag iarraidh buntata leis na h-isbeanan agad?’ to ask children ‘Do you want sausages with your potatoes?’.

Ronnie Black, former lecturer in Celtic Studies at Edinburgh University, said having other Gaelic-speaking staff creates a more “natural” environment for children.

He said: “It’s important they’re doing this – it’s a bad thing if children are given the impression that Gaelic is a language only spoken in the classroom.

“You’re essentially trying to produce an environment that’s the same for a child growing up learning to speak French in France – you want to make it a natural thing.”

Last week author Richard Deveria criticised the Scottish Government for spending millions in taxpayers cash for promoting Gaelic outside of the Highlands.

He said: “It is absurd for the Scottish Government to use legislation to impose Gaelic on the lowlands.

“The future of the language lies with the people who speak it and its proponents do a far better job by promoting it in their day to day lives at no cost rather than spending public money in areas where it is of little or no relevance.”