Language

Below are real-life examples of how organisations have found Census data invaluable in the planning of local services which support and promote languages other than English amongst Scotland's communities.

Chief Executive Officer of An Comunn Gaidhealach, John Morrison

“Services such as language resources, arts and cultural services, schools, social work, and local authority services are important to us all and affect how we live and participate in the wider community, so it’s crucial we have our say. By helping paint a picture of Scotland, the Gaelic community can ensure that we help to shape decisions which will impact on us and future generations.”

Bòrd na Gàidhlig

Using census data for development of Gaelic language plans

Bòrd na Gàidhlig used census information when creating its Guidance on the Development of Gaelic Language Plans – statutory plans referred to in the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005.

Expectations for level of provision in the plans are informed by data drawn from the census.

Bòrd na Gàidhlig was tasked with identifying public sector organisations to develop language plans which will reflect the aspirations of the National Plan for Gaelic. These plans will allow Gaelic users to access public services in the language more often. The organisation hopes that authorities producing plans will encourage people to use Gaelic and will expand its Gaelic services and resources.

This will result in more opportunities to communicate in Gaelic, more services through the medium of Gaelic, and a more visible promotion of the language - such as signage.

Gaelic language plans are about serving the needs of Gaelic speaking customers and employees. They play a part in helping sustain and develop one of Scotland’s national languages. They seek to create opportunities for Gaelic speakers and those interested in Gaelic to use the language in as many situations as possible.

Bòrd na Gàidhlig hopes that the use of language plans will enhance Gaelic users’ perception of the usefulness of the language, and will create real incentives for increasing the number of Gaelic speakers, who will be able to pass on the language. It will also allow more non-Gaelic speakers to learn the language and encourage parents, Gaelic-speaking and non-Gaelic-speaking, to have their children educated in Gaelic.

Bòrd na Gàidhlig targeted public service organisations between 2006 and 2009, issuing statutory notices to develop a language plan. The selection of organisations was made on the basis of the potential impact the organisation would have on the delivery of Gaelic in the home; education at all levels; and general community life (in particular the Highlands and Islands area).

Census information was an essential part of the selection criteria when the Bòrd prioritised which authorities to issue notices to – in particular, information on the number of people having Gaelic language skills who live in the area in which the public service exercises its functions, as indicated in the 2001 Census.

Daibhidh Boag, Leasaiche Cànain Gàidhlig (Head of Gaelic Usage) at Bòrd na Gàidhlig said, “The information contained within census data is a vital tool which helps us understand the number of people with Gaelic language skills across Scotland. The national figures are important, but our knowledge and understanding is further enhanced through data which shows the geographical and demographic spread of people with these skills. This statistical base allows us to work closely with the Scottish Government, public authorities and Gaelic organisations to combine our shared knowledge, skills and resources to grow Gaelic.”