THE rapid expansion of Gaelic school education is providing a major challenge, Scotland's largest local authority has warned.

Glasgow City Council said there were insufficient teachers and support staff to deliver growth - while officials warned funding issues remain concerning.

As a result, the council warns it would be foolhardy for the Scottish Government to pass legislation to force councils to meet future demand for Gaelic Medium Education (GME).

The comments from Glasgow City Council - in an official response to a Government consultation on the future of the language - follow a sharp increase in GME across Scotland.

In 2012/13 more than 3000 pupils were receiving GME after a rise of six per cent in primary and an increase of seven per cent in secondary. In 1985 just 24 pupils were in GME.

Glasgow has been at the forefront of the expansion, opening Scotland's first Gaelic campus for three to 18 year olds in 2006.

The authority plans to open a second Gaelic-medium primary school in the south of the city to meet demand from parents, while Gaelic is also being introduced into the curriculum in primary schools across the city. However, in a response to a government consultation on the introduction of a Gaelic Medium Education Bill, Maureen McKenna, Glasgow's executive director of education, highlighted the strain on services.

She said: "Staffing remains a major challenge. This is not solely around teachers, but includes recruiting fluent early years staffing, support staff and authority personnel.

"In addition, the rapidity of the expansion of GME is proving challenging in ensuring that there are sufficient skill sets within the existing workforce. This impacts on promoted posts and leadership."

Mrs McKenna raised issues with the future expansion of GME and the impact on wider budgets, despite the dedicated grants.

"Although the specific grant does assist in terms of supplementing essential additionality, given the unique context of GME in Glasgow the cost of accommodation and services, such as transport, puts pressure on core council budgets," she said.

"It would be better for central government to work closely with local authorities to promote partnerships across local authorities and to direct funding to deliver best value through these partnerships."

The council concludes by opposing the introduction of legislation to force councils to meet demand for GME. "We do have concerns if and when our GME provision is full. Is it then reasonable to ask us to keep growing because by legislation all parents would have a right to access GME as long as they lived in the city boundary?" Mrs McKenna asks. "Glasgow City Council has the most advanced secondary provider and even then we can't deliver 100 per cent GME secondary due to a lack of fluent specialist teachers. What would happen if the local authority was unable to secure fluent Gaelic speakers? Would the local authority be in breach of the legislation?

"Our position is strongly that there should not be legislation. However, there does need to be stronger accountability around the specific grant to encourage local authorities to work together more effectively to ensure that all parents, regardless of where they live, have access to GME, should they wish."

The 2013 National Gaelic Medium Teacher Education Strategy, which sets out priorities until 2016, has highlighted a lack of teachers. The report found some trainee teachers failed to complete their courses because of a lack of fluency in the language, with numbers completing courses remaining low.