For a decade the Polish language has been heard in the playgrounds of Scottish schools as thousands of children whose parents moved to Scotland with EU expansion settled in alongside Scots.

Until now there was no prospect of a formal route for young Poles to be able to take Polish language as part of the fourth and fifth year curriculum despite the research showing Polish is the language young Scots are most likely to hear in school other than English.

Talks are under way, however, to make the provision a reality for the first time.

It is also catching on, the research shows. While Polish children have been learning Polish in Saturday schools a small number of Scottish children attracted by the expressive lilt of their friends' language have also joined in and are taking lessons.

A new report currently being considered by the minister for learning and languages at Holyrood recommends Polish is offered along with French and Spanish as part of the standard suite of modern languages.

Currently Polish is only offered to qualification level through 17 community run Saturday schools while only two schools, both in Edinburgh - Drummond Community High and Dalry Primary - offer afternoon classes in Polish.

The network of community Polish schools could be easily adapted, the report commissioned by the cross-party group on Poland at Holyrood and currently in the hands of Alasdair Allan, learning and languages minister.

Dr. Anna Martowicz, a Polish language teacher and linguist, programme coordinator at the Frederic Chopin Polish Centre for Culture and Education in Edinburgh and chairperson of the Association for the Promotion of Polish Language Abroad, prepared the report with Dr Andrew Roach, a senior lecturer in history at Glasgow University, who has taught and published on Polish history.

The academics said some 12000 are currently educated in Scottish schools and nurseries. In Aberdeen there are 820, Edinburgh 3300, Glasgow

890 and Perth and Kinross 500.

Jean Urquhart, the independent Highlands and Islands MSP who chairs the cross party group on Poland and commissioned the report, said the move would reap long term benefits.

She said: "Polish people are working in all levels of Scottish society now.

"We have probably not really recognised the growth of the Polish community right across Scotland.

"Even acknowledging the Polish language is important and would show the country in a good light to the Polish people."

Dariusz Adler, Polish Consul General based in Edinburgh, said Polish language provision would open up opportunities for Polish and Scottish young people.

The fledgeling green energy industry in Poland is one which is poised to expand but which lacks the kind of expertise that has been nurtured in Scotland for decades.

Mr Adler said: "It (the report) is information about what we can offer and what we can do to help to educate our children in the Polish language and for the Scottish education system."

Mark Lazarowicz, Labour MP for Edinburgh North and Leith, said: "In England the children of Polish-speaking parents have had the opportunity to sit GCSE and A-level examination in Polish for many years and, as the statistics clearly show, there has been a very steep increase in uptake in recent years. "It seems only right that the children of Polish origin in Scotland are given the same opportunities as their peers in England."

There are regions where Polish children make up over seven per cent of the entire population of pupils and there are schools such as St Augustine's RC High School in Edinburgh where 30 per cent of students (112 last year) were born to Polish parents.

The academics said: "The central recommendation of this document is that classes in Polish Language should be available within the Scottish school system and that qualifications in the Polish Language should be introduced into Scottish schools at National 4 & 5 and Higher Levels.

"Two years ago 110 Scottish students took the GCSE in Polish, despite having to pay examination fees and travel to approved examination centres.

"These figures demonstrate the demand for Polish among the children of Polish migrants, but also suggest an opportunity for non-Polish speakers to learn the language in a supportive environment."

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