Inverness Gaelic Primary School’s Dilemma

This is an English translation of the original post “Snaim Bun-sgoil Gàidhlig Inbhir-Nis“.

At last a full-time headmaster has been appointed for Inverness’ Gaelic Primary School.  After interviews a fortnight ago, according to the BBC, the new headmaster is the headmaster that has been there for almost a year in a temporary post, Mr. James Lyon.

I’m happy that this problem has been fixed for the school – as the debacle has gone on for far too long.

Since the school opened in 2007, there has not been one permanent headmaster before Mr. Lyon.  The pupils in Primary 6 will have seen four headmasters come and go whilst they have been in school.  For the first Gaelic-only primary school in the country this is an embarrassment.

At a time when the Government, Bòrd na Gàidhlig and many other organisations are trying to show that there is work to be found with Gaelic, it is a very bad example that this fiasco has set for the liveliness of the Gaelic job market.

After employing a headmaster in the short-term, that would have been just as competent in the job as a fluent speaker, the Council still tried to find a fluent speaker.  Gaelic learners went in and out of the post, unhappy with the level of support that they got from the Council and the school.  I wouldn’t be happy at all, either, if I went into a job and the company was already looking for somebody else to do my job from the star

I know why the education board wanted a fluent Gaelic speaker to be the headmaster of the school.  Of course they should have given preference to fluent speakers when they were looking for applications, to promote fluency in the language.  But if there are no fluent speakers for the job then the education board has to give the permanent position to somebody that can do the job.  If they are learning the language, that’s qualification enough in my eyes.  We need to look at the situation as it is.  There won’t be enough fluent speakers for every job available with the language.  It’s a good thing for the language when we bring in learners into positions like this.  It shows that there is a reason to start learning the language and that we aren’t a closed club.  We bring in knowledge to the language about the job that we didn’t have before.  To develop the language, we need to look beyond just ourselves.

It is a bit strange though that Mr. Lyon, a learner, was chosen for the full-time post over fluent speakers by the education board.  As I’ve said, I agree that the best person for the job should be chosen, and I do think that the board has found the right man for the job, but with the effort the education board went through to find a fluent speaker before, it’s apparent that they have changed the qualities they were looking for and that’s not at all fair to those that have been involved in the process for three years after the last permanent head teacher left the school.  It looks just as bad as being without a head teacher at all.

I truly hope that the Highland Council will write a letter of apology to Annika Jannson, the head teacher before Mr. Lyon, who left the school after months of complaining about a foreign Gaelic learner being the head teacher.

The most important thing now for Inverness Gaelic Primary School is that there is a stable leadership instead of the turmoil that has gone on.  With this, the school can develop and focus more carefully on issues of education, instead of politics going on in the head teacher’s office.

I wish Mr. Lyon and the school all the best, and I hope that the two are successful in showing the quality of Gaelic-medium education.  It’s important for GME as a whole that they do.

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