Gaelic Policy FAQs

Fèisean nan Gàidheal
Gaelic Policy FAQ’s

1. Why does Fèisean nan Gàidheal have a Gaelic Policy?
The Gaelic language is at the heart of the Fèis movement and some of the funding we receive is in pursuit of developing the use of the Gaelic language. A Gaelic Policy is needed to ensure that all individuals and groups involved with the work of FnG are aware of the importance the organisation places on Gaelic use in all its operations, which includes the Fèisean, and the tutors employed to teach at them. Fèisean nan Gàidheal (FnG) will offer guidance and support to Fèisean as to how the Policy should be implemented but it should be noted that this Policy applies to all areas of our work including Feìsean, Fèis-run classes and Youth Music Initiative work in schools.  The full policy can be downloaded at the right hand side of this page alomng with a phrase and word resource.

2. Why is the development of Gaelic language use important within Fèisean?
The ethos of the Fèis movement has always included a strong commitment to the Gaelic language and we do not want to lose sight of that since Gaelic is what distinguishes the Fèisean from other traditonal music tuition programmes.

A new National Gaelic Language Plan 2012-2017 focusses on increasing the opportunities to use Gaelic and increasing the number of Gaelic speakers. FnG’s work programme reaches over 20,000 young people and adults each year across the country and we are in an almost unique position to help deliver elements of the Scottish Government and Bòrd na Gàidhlig objectives in the Plan. FnG can contribute greatly to the initiative to increase numbers of speakers through the training in Gaelic of tutors – the frontline deliverers – enabling them to use more Gaelic in the delivery of classes to participants.

3. What will happen if a Fèis does not implement the Gaelic Policy?
The Gaelic Policy will have the same status as the organisation’s other policies and must be implemented. In the same way that Fèisean could not ignore our Policies on Child Protection or Additional Support Needs, ignoring our Gaelic Policy would be in breach of conditions of funding and could lead to funding being withheld and future funding being in jeopardy.

However, we want to work with Fèisean to make it easy for them to deliver this Policy and the biggest way in which they can do so is to ensure they employ tutors who are either fluent in Gaelic, or actively learning the language. We do not envisage penalising Fèisean in the short term, as this Policy will take time to implement, but it is expected that all Fèisean will adopt and implement the Policy for which necessary support and guidance will be provided. We will monitor its implementation and only those Fèisean not making a proactive effort to deliver it are likely to be in contravention of the Policy and in breach of funding conditions.

4. What role does Fèisean nan Gàidheal have in the delivery of Gaelic training for tutors?
Fèisean nan Gàidheal has carried out research into the Gaelic abilities of Fèis tutors. From the results obtained we have been able to get a better picture of their current Gaelic abilities.

We have written to all the tutors on our database asking them to consider a number of courses and workshops that are suitable to a variety of abilities and to choose one that is most suitable to their needs. We have also secured some funding which allows us to offer financial support through a bursary scheme to those who are undertaking Gaelic language training.

5. What role do Fèisean have in the delivery of Gaelic training for tutors?
We do not expect Fèisean to provide training opportunities for tutors; this is the responsibility of FnG and of the tutors.

We will expect Fèisean to provide us with tutor names at least one month before a Fèis is due to take place. This will enable us to ensure that they have a current disclosure certificate and that they have undergone, or are undergoing, Gaelic training to achieve at least a basic ability if they are not already proficient in the language. If they have not undergone any Gaelic training, FnG will do their utmost to ensure they become equipped with the ability to teach at a Fèis.

6. What must tutors do to ensure they have at least a basic Gaelic ability?
Tutors must consider all the options that are available to them to learn Gaelic and choose the one that is right for them. They must inform FnG of their progress regarding this so that record may be kept on our database.

7. What is meant by a ‘basic ability’ in Gaelic?
FnG considers a ‘basic ability’ to mean the following:

  • Basic words and phrases associated with welcoming pupils into a class
  • Introductions to be used when meeting someone
  • A few words and phrases which can be easily integrated into teaching practices, such as ‘counting in’ and repeats etc plus the ability to pronounce the names of Gaelic songs and tunes without resorting to English translations.
  • Ability to introduce, in a simple manner, musical pieces to an audience or class
  • A general knowledge of the situation of the Gaelic language in Scotland and its importance within the Fèis movement.

Ability in Gaelic is one thing, but the most important thing is using the language. We hope that tutors will enter into the sprit of the implementation of this Policy in a fun way, and enhance their own skills at the same time. We are mindful of the fact that the majority of children who attend Fèisean do not speak Gaelic, and are not in Gaelic education. Fèisean do not exist to teach Gaelic to children, but we know that children enjoy engaging with Gaelic in a fun way and it enhances their experience at a Fèis.

8. What if we want to use a tutor who hasn’t received training?
If Fèisean wish to use tutors who have no Gaelic they must inform us as soon as possible and at least one month before a Fèis. We will then ensure that a tutor receives the best guidance and support to achieve a Gaelic ability that would allow them to teach at a Fèis.

If a tutor has to be called on at the very last minute, for example if another tutor has had to pull out or numbers dictate that an additional tutor is required, we expect the Fèis to do its best to source a tutor with Gaelic ability. If that is not possible, we would expect the Fèis to inform us of such a situation and we will help to identify suitable replacement tutors.

9. What if a tutor has no interest in learning Gaelic?
If a tutor has no interest or will to learn Gaelic then it will not be possible for them to teach at a Fèis. The Gaelic language is central to the ethos of the Fèis movement and we must now move on from promotion of the language to using Gaelic. Tutors are paid to teach at Fèisean. Some of the money granted to Fèisean comes from sources that want FnG to promote Gaelic and its use. It should be viewed by tutors as an essential skill to enable them to continue to gain employment at Fèisean.

10. Isn’t it discriminatory to only employ people who speak Gaelic?
No. There is legal opinion that suggests where ability in the Gaelic language is needed to deliver the objectives of the employer, it is not illegal or discriminatory only to employ people with those skills. You couldn’t employ someone without appropriate training to teach in a school. A Gaelic teacher must have been trained to work in Gaelic classes in schools. FnG’s central objectives have always been about the promotion and development of Gaelic language, music and culture. As an organisation we believe that the best way to add legitimacy to this ethos is to require everyone – paid or otherwise – to learn at least a little of the language. But this is especially important in the case of those delivering the classes – the tutors.

11. I don’t have time to learn Gaelic since I am very busy teaching. What can I do?
There are a large number of flexible options available for learning Gaelic, including classes at various times during the day, in the evening and at weekends. FnG will also be running regional Gaelic days across Scotland, and it is hoped that we can reach everyone requiring training through the various means available. We are not asking tutors to give up their valuable earning time to engage in Gaelic learning, and would be happy to financially support those who require help. But we also believe that tutors should consider the opportunity the Gaelic training would give them to add to their skills base and their future earning potential, not least their continued employment by Fèisean and FnG.

12. I have Gaelic already. Do I have to do anything?
People who are fluent in Gaelic already need not undertake additional training but they might like to consider if they have the musical terminology connected with various instruments and singing and, if not, how this could be improved upon.

13. Our committee does not agree with the Gaelic Policy. Can we talk to someone about it?
You should speak to your Development Officer in the first instance. The Policy was created in consultation with representatives of all relevant parties and was accepted in 2009 by the FnG Board. It will next be reviewed in 2012-13 when it is likely to be strengthened further.

14. As a tutor I do not agree with the Policy. Who should I speak to about this?
You should speak to Calum Alex Macmillan, FnG’s Development Manager, on 01463 225454 ( or Arthur Cormack, FnG’s Chief Executive, on 01478 613355 (

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