Although Gaelic medium education is an established part of the 3-18 Scottish Education system, local authorities have no obligation to provide early learning and childcare. The recently published statutory guidance on early learning and childcare states “209. Early learning and childcare can be provided through the medium of Gaelic. There are no duties on education authorities to provide Gaelic early learning and childcare but they may do so.” Statutory Guidance on Gaelic education published in 2016 states “In the future, the Scottish Ministers may, by regulations, require an education authority to treat a parental request to assess the need for GMPE in its area as a request to assess the need for GME at the level of early learning and childcare. If such regulations are made, it would help to ensure that GME provision at the level of early learning and childcare and GMPE (i.e. GME in primary schools) complement each other, providing continuity in a child’s language immersion” As the 1140 hours will be introduced in August 2021 now would be an appropriate time to review Guidance on Gaelic Education to include early learning and childcare. Such a review would also present an opportunity to assess the efficacy of the process as laid down in the guidance for parental requests for Gaelic medium education and update other aspects of the document.
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