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First teacher training course to embed Scots language

The word 'Scots' in Scrabble letters

For the first time in the history of Scottish education, there is now a professional learning course (PLC) for teachers on how to include and embed Scots language and culture in their classrooms. Teachers in Scotland have been requesting a course like this for generations, which The Open University (OU) in Scotland and Education Scotland are delighted to now make available in partnership.

Over 120 teachers have already signed up to the Scots language teacher professional learning programme, demonstrating both the popularity and the need for such high-quality training materials. Funding for teachers who choose to study the course has been made available by the Scottish Government.

Developed and delivered by both partners, the online programme has been designed to suit any learning environment and helps teachers to understand not only the educational benefits of embedding Scots language and culture in the classroom, but also the equality, diversity and inclusion aspects which are increasingly relevant to modern Scottish education.

This course emphasises the transformative role of Scots in Scottish schools, promoting multilingual classrooms."
Louise Glen, Senior Education Officer for Languages at Education Scotland

The official launch of the course, which started in January, will be formally marked by an event on Tuesday 6 February in the Scottish Storytelling Centre, hosted by The Open University in Scotland and Education Scotland, and will be attended by Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, Jenny Gilruth.  At the event, authors Graeme Armstrong and Gerda Stevenson will also read from their works in Scots and share their thoughts on this important milestone for Scottish education.

The course has been developed with a needs-based approach in mind, incorporating direct input from education professionals and guidance from academics to ensure a high standard of excellence and teachers' learning preferences.  The OU in Scotland and Education Scotland have collaborated with national and local partners to make this an evidence-based professional learning development aimed at elevating teachers' professionalism and to ensure impactful, career-long learning in Scots language teaching across Scotland and benefiting all children and young people.

Susan Stewart, Director of the OU in Scotland, said: 

“I am delighted that with the launch of this Scots language and culture course for teachers in Scotland, The Open University will make a significant contribution to Scottish primary and secondary education.”

Susan Stewart, Director of The Open University in Scotland and Jenny Gilruth, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills

“The Open University’s supported distance learning model is a proven way of delivering at a national level yet sustaining local needs; 85% of our graduates remain in the location where their study was undertaken, retaining their talent and skills in those, often rural and remote, communities. This new course will offer a unique forum for teachers from across the country to collaboratively develop their practice, while enabling direct application of the new skills in their local classrooms as part of the learning.”

Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, Jenny Gilruth, said:

“The Scots language programme is a very welcome addition to both the resources that we have in place to promote Scots and also to the range of support we provide for teachers in schools.

“The course is also an important step forward towards embedding Scots language and culture in our classrooms across all levels and subject areas – which is a key part of our commitment to both celebrating and protecting Scotland’s languages. It has been encouraging to see the number of teachers already signing up for the course and I look forward to seeing the impact of the course in the months ahead.”

Louise Glen, Senior Education Officer for Languages at Education Scotland, said:

“This course emphasises the transformative role of Scots in Scottish schools, promoting multilingual classrooms. The PLC team collaborates with teachers, gathering essential research on Scots language in Scottish education for informed teaching. 

“Through pilot efforts, key themes emerged, highlighting Scots as an asset in pupils' linguistic repertoire and identity, a tool for inclusive education, and a driver for cross-curricular approaches. This course enhances professional learning, a crucial focus for Education Scotland, marking a significant step forward in Scottish education.”

Dr Sylvia Warnecke, Senior Lecturer in Languages at the OU, who led on the development of the course, said: 

"Evidently, this new course is meeting a significant need, with 120 teachers signed up for the first presentation. These teachers join us from all over Scotland, spanning various subject areas, from early years, across the broad general education, and into the senior phase. It's heartening to see many colleagues working with pupils with additional support needs also on board, especially amid the growing realisation that embedding Scots into Scottish classrooms is an essential equality and inclusion initiative. Interest from colleges is encouraging, and we hope to welcome further teachers in the next course intake in September.

"We are incredibly proud and excited to bring this first-ever comprehensive professional learning programme in this area to teachers in Scotland. We are grateful for the Scottish Government funding that enabled all interested teachers to secure their place. We strongly believe that this course will inspire teachers and pupils alike to become leaders in this area of study."

Delivered fully online with a mix of peer learning and guided self-study, the course comprises material covering 60 study hours over a nine-month period. Prior to its launch, the course was piloted with Banff Academy in Aberdeenshire.

The Scottish Government is funding all places for teachers studying on the programme starting in January 2024. Future funded places will be confirmed before the school summer holidays for the next presentation of the programme, starting in September 2024.

The programme team is also in the process of applying for the GTCS professional recognition award for this programme, which would make it the first programme on Scots language with such a recognition. 

Prior to the launch of this new PLC for teachers, the OU in Scotland and Education Scotland  previously collaborated successfully in the production of a free public-facing course in Scots language and culture, which has had over 18,000 unique visitors from 129 different countries. Its popularity and positive reviews made it the ideal starting point to base this teacher-specific version.

Pictured, left to right: Susan Stewart, Director of The Open University in Scotland and Jenny Gilruth, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills.

So I think the Scots language is so important, it's really intrinsic to our cultural identity in Scotland, and this resource will help to support the profession in delivering quality learning and teaching for our young people.

But also in celebrating our rich traditions that we have in Scotland through our language and empowering our teachers to use that in their classrooms.

6 February 2024


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