MORE than £16 million will be required to build Glasgow's newest Gaelic primary school, a report has revealed.

Glasgow City Council is mulling over a plan to use the disused St James' Primary building as the site of the local authority's fourth school offering Gaelic Medium Education (GME).

The disused school in the Calton area of the city has been listed as being in poor condition by Scotland’s Buildings at Risk register.

The bill for refurbishing the crumbling school is expected to be around £16.5 million, and would see the creation of 12 state-of-the-art teaching spaces and two general-purpose areas for pupils.


The derelict St James Primary. Pic: Google maps 

It would also feature a three-court sports hall, a drama stage and a theatre for music and dance rehearsal.

St James Primary, in Green Street, closed decade ago and has since fallen into a state of disrepair.

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The proposal follow a surge in demand for bilingual education in Glasgow and would see the school join Glendale Primary, Pollokshields, the Glasgow Gaelic School in Berkeley Street, city centre, and the annexe at Cartvale Scool, Govan, in offering GME.

A report to councillors said: “The total cost of the refurbishment has been estimated at £16.5m.

“Council officers would seek support from the Scottish Government through the Gaelic Capital grant, and the Government’s Learning Estate Investment Programme and the council’s own capital funding.

“At this stage, it is not possible to provide an estimated opening date for the school.”

A statutory city-wide consultation over the plan is awaiting approval by the City Administration Committee.

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Glasgow recently hosted the Royal National Mod for the first time in 19 years. The event, which is a celebration of Gaelic music and spoken word, generated around £2m for the city.

Demand for Gaelic education is soaring in Glasgow despite only around 6,000 people - one per cent of the city's population - speaking the language.


Gaelic appears in many places across Scotland, but is spoken by relatively few people

However, there are fears it is in retreat elsewhere. Professor Conchúr Ó Giollagáin, the director of the Language Sciences Institute at the University of the Highlands and Islands, has warned that the language has come to the point of “societal collapse” across the country.

In the 2011 Scottish census, just over 58,000 Scots reported themselves as Gaelic speakers, but research for a new study due to be published next year has estimated that in its islands heartland the language is spoken by fewer than 11,000 people. 

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Deputy first minister John Swinney announced a fourth Gaelic primary school would be built in Glasgow as he launched the 2019 Royal National Mòd - the national celebration of Gaelic language and culture - in the city earlier this month.

He said: “GME is central to our efforts to support the language and we must ensure it also has strong links to Gaelic in the home, the community, or the workplace."

“We want to ensure those who wish to learn and use the Gaelic language are given every opportunity to do so, and I believe we are at a crucial turning point for promoting Gaelic education."


John Swinney

He added: “In the 20 years since the first Gaelic primary opened, Gaelic education has been highly valued by children, parents and carers."

"The new school would  allow more children to access the benefits of such an education.”