HWDT Launches Gaelic Education Programme

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Today, the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust is set to launch their new Gaelic Education Programme, working with pupils from Stornoway on board their research vessel and floating classroom, Silurian, for the first time ever.

The Trust’s ambition to develop the very best of their established schools programme specifically for Gaelic Medium Education has been supported by Bòrd na Gaidhlig, with funding from the Taic Freumhan Coimhearsnachd fund.

Since the appointment of Gaelic Development Intern, Kenny Rankin, in June this year, the Trust has adopted an official Gaelic name; ‘Urras Mhuc-mara nan Eilean’, and has organised a number of unique and inspiring learning experiences for both Primary and Secondary school pupils from the Western Isles.

Over the week, more than 150 primary 5 to 7 pupils will climb aboard the research vessel alongside Stornoway Marina from both Stornoway and Laxdale Primary School. Pupils will actively explore Silurian, learn about marine mammals and discover what life is like living on board as a marine scientist. The sessions are designed to inspire students, spark interest in the marine environment and help to inform the decision-makers of the future.

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Whist Silurian is berthed alongside the lifeboat, the Trust are also inviting the wider community on board to look around the boat and discover more about the work of the Trust. Two free open boat events will run with the first today from 4:30pm – 7:00pm for English speakers, and the second tomorrow from 5:30pm – 7:00pm for Gaelic speakers.

Following on from the floating classroom, next week the Trust’s engagement team will take secondary 1 pupils from the Nicholson Institute and Sir E Scott Schools on field trips out to Tiumpan Head and Eilean Glas Lighthouse (Scalpay) to watch for whales. Both sites are excellent locations for spotting wildlife, with sightings frequently reported by the community through the Trust’s innovative community sightings app and website, Whale Track, recently nominated for a national award.  

Pupil from a past school visit takes part in a headland watch.

Pupil from a past school visit takes part in a headland watch.

Out on the headland, pupils will scan the seas and take part in citizen science, learning how to identify and spot sea birds and marine mammals, as well as recording environmental conditions. These opportunities to take learning beyond the classroom and connect pupils with nature are possible thanks to continued support from the Robertson Trust. Thanks to players of People’s Postcode Lottery, the Trust also received £20,000 this year from People’s Local Trust, to support outdoor education, funding the development of both the Gaelic and the English programmes, helping to build understanding of local wildlife and provide pupils with the chance to experience real world application of learning.

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