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Digital teaching to link up rural schools.
An e-Sgoil allowing secondary pupils across the Western Isles to access more curriculum subjects through online classes will be developed thanks to £550,000 in Scottish Government funding and £150,000 from Bord na Gaidhlig.
The initial focus of the e-Sgoil – which will be based in Stornoway – will be on delivering Higher and Advanced Higher courses, Gaelic Medium Education, vocational skills and initial teacher training.
The initiative, which will receive match funding from Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, follows the Islands Education Summit held in Orkney last year which considered some of the unique challenges the authorities face in delivering an education service in the islands. This includes how to ensure all pupils have equal opportunities to access the full curriculum.
Deputy First Minister John Swinney said:
"We want to deliver a world class education for every child in the country and we have committed to improving the use of digital technology through our digital learning and teaching strategy. The new E-sgoil is an excellent example of how we can do this for pupils living in rural communities.
"This innovative project will address many of the issues identified by the island councils last year including teacher recruitment for certain subjects and subject choices for pupils in the senior phase of school.
"Once the e-Sgoil is up and running in the Western Isles, the intention is to share the resource with Orkney and Shetland with the possibility of expanding into other rural parts of the Highlands in the future. This exciting and innovative development will help transform the way education is delivered in rural communities, by providing equal opportunities for pupils through a shared education resource across local authorities."
Councillor Catriona Stewart, Chair of Education and Children's Services said:
"It is with great pleasure that Comhairle nan Eilean Siar welcomes today's funding announcement by the Deputy First Minister.
"The Gaelic e-Sgoil initiative is a necessary and exciting partnership between the Comhairle, the Scottish Government and Bòrd na Gàidhlig. It will provide enhanced learning and teaching opportunities for all children and young people in addition to greater equity of provision at secondary level. Work is currently being undertaken to develop partnerships with Highland Council, Argyll and Bute Council, Orkney Council and Shetland Council. The e-Sgoil will also provide a national online professional community for Gaidhlig teachers and an online central resource for all learning and teaching resources.
"The programme will also support Gaelic Medium Education in primary schools and, more importantly, provide pupils in small rural primary schools access to a wider peer group and facilitate a more collaborative approach to learning and teaching between schools and across authorities."