Cost of sending pupils outwith Midlothian for Gaelic schooling has rocketed

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THE cost of sending pupils to Gaelic schooling has rocketed in Midlothian over the last five years as demand increases.

Midlothian Council is one of several local authorities who do not provide Gaelic education within their own area and rely on neighbouring education services.

It has been revealed that while the cost of sending pupils whose parents opted for Gaelic education to Edinburgh in 2014 was just over £7000, the local authority had to spend nearly £31,500 to do the same last year.

The bulk of the transport costs are being spent on taxis for pupils attending the education which has gone up from £6460 in 2014 to £31,130 last year.

The money paid out to provide bus services dropped as more pupils are taken to classes by taxi.

The Education Scotland Act 2016 places responsibility for providing access to Gaelic medium education, where Scottish Gaelic is the primary language used in lessons, on local authorities.

It says local authorities must “as far as is reasonable” seek to accommodate the demand for Gaelic medium education for primary pupils and for early learning and childcare if it has five or more children requesting it.

It is estimated there were nearly 4400 pupils receiving Gaelic medium education in Scotland last year – the highest on record and a 64 per cent increase since 2010.

Fourteen of Scotland’s local authorities offer the service in their area, but the majority of these only do so during primary school years.

Recent figures suggest of those who do follow provision into secondary school 98 per cent of them attend Gaelic medium education in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Highland and Eilen Siar.

A further 6700 Scottish pupils not in Gaelic medium education also received Gaelic language lessons.

Marie Sharp - Local Democracy Reporting Service