Call for more use of Scots language in classrooms

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More use of the Scots language in lessons could not only help pupils understand their culture better but also improve literacy and general learning, according to a report by Education Scotland.

Scots, which is recognised as a language rather than a dialect by both the European Union and the UK government, has seen more acceptance in schools under the Curriculum for Excellence reforms of the last five years.

However, it still prompts widespread negative attitudes, with one recent official survey finding that almost two-thirds of Scottish people themselves do not consider it a real language, and others regarding it as a slang version of English.

The report welcomed progress but called for a more integrated approach.

“Across all sectors, staff are increasingly using Scots and Scottish texts to develop children’s and young people’s literacy skills,” it states.

“The next step for many schools is to plan opportunities for children and young people to use Scots language and Scots and Scottish texts beyond one-off events, such as for St Andrew’s Day or Burns celebrations.

“Through Scots, learners can explore language in more depth, making connections and comparisons with the linguistic structures and vocabularies of other languages.”

Reluctant readers and writers could particularly benefit from more prominent use of the Scots language because it could “capture the imagination and speak to them in a familiar voice”, the report said.

Matthew Fitt, who co-founded the Itchy Coo publishing company, which publishes Scots versions of classic novels and children’s stories, said the way the language had been officially ignored in schools for so long since the 1872 Education Act had been harmful to children’s development.

“I am very proud of the fact that more children are reading and enjoying books in Scots than at any point in the last 150 years.”

Overall, the Education Scotland report cited a lot of good practice in literacy and English in Scottish schools but said much work still had to be done.

“Improving attainment is a national priority and improving literacy has an important role in improving attainment across all curricular areas,” it adds.

  


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