The official opening of the new satellite hub of e-Sgoil took place today, Wednesday 16th August, at the old Carinish School building in North Uist.
Deputy First Minister, John Swinney, officially opened the hub and met with the Comhairle’s new apprentices as part of their Induction Programme.
Mr Swinney said: "e-Sgoil shows the positive impact of digital technology on education in remote and rural areas by allowing all learners to access the curriculum in both English and Gaelic through online distance learning.
I am delighted the Scottish Government is supporting this great project and we are committed to ensuring that all learners can experience an education enriched by digital technology – this is why we have published a Digital Learning and Teaching Strategy for Scotland.
It is also great to see the Comhairle’s Apprenticeship programme continuing to flourish, as part of our drive to ensure all of Scotland’s young people are fully and fairly supported into employment, and I am very pleased to have the opportunity to meet the new apprentices."
Cllr Angus McCormack, Chairman of the Education and Children’s Services Committee, said: "Research indicates that there is demand from young people for opportunities to study and work on the islands. e-Sgoil is significantly enhancing the use and availability of Gàidhlig and other subjects and widening the range of study options - both traditional and applied learning.
Following the announcement by the Scottish Government in June regarding the launch of the Developing the Young Workforce Regional Groups in Orkney, Shetland and the Outer Hebrides, we are now in a position to provide new opportunities for young people to pursue positive destinations within the islands and in doing so, slowing population decline and strengthening the islands’ economy.
An important part of this enhanced employer support is the expansion of our apprenticeship programme, which are based on the key growth sectors of our local economy. We recently received an unprecedented number of applications for our 2017 Apprenticeship programme and are delighted to have the successful candidates here today.
We would wish to record our thanks to the Scottish Government for their continued support and also to the Deputy First Minister for his support and for taking the time to visit us today."
An independent external review which was recently completed to mark one year since e-Sgoil was established concluded - "As we approach the end of the planning year and significantly, the first year of senior phase delivery across the four schools of the Western Isles, there is much to be optimistic about.
Given the continued buy in locally, and also assuming there is national involvement in schools across Scotland, e-Sgoil has the potential to place the Western Isles at the centre of national policy development and associated transformational change, and in so doing, be a key part of what education in Scotland does to enhance opportunities for all learners and educators no matter their location."