Guest post by Simon Hall
Education Scotland, Scotland’s national improvement agency for education, has appointed four Scots Language Coordinators to work with Local Authorities across the country, helping schools and teachers to develop their capacity and skills in teaching Scots Language, including the dialects of Orkney and Shetland.
The coordinators aim to raise the profile and the status of Scots in our schools. Studying Scotland – its history, culture, literature and languages – is a key part of Curriculum for Excellence, and the coordinators will work to promote Scots in all its rich varieties, including the dialects spoken in the Northern Isles and Caithness, through the Doric areas of the North East, to the Scots spoken in Scotland’s cities, in the Central Belt, and in southern Lowland areas such as Borders, Dumfries and Galloway.
The Coordinators themselves come from a range of different areas and backgrounds, and there is a strong Northern Isles presence in the group. Bruce Eunson is from Shetland, where he was formerly Shetland Dialect development officer. Diane Anderson is from the North East, and was until recently a Principal Teacher of English in Dundee. Simon Hall has also been a Principal Teacher of English in Orkney, while Katrina Lucas is a primary teacher from Falkirk with special expertise in Scots.
The appointment of the coordinators coincides with the Scottish Qualifications Authority’s launch of a new suite of Awards in Scots language, and the coordinators are already involved in supporting schools delivering these new Awards.
With 1.5 million people reporting in the 2011 census that they use and understand Scots, it seems that this cultural treasure is alive and well. The continued development of Scots language education will no doubt be welcomed in Scots-speaking heartlands such as Orkney and Shetland.