An award ceremony was held at e-Sgoil on Friday 22nd June at which certificates and prizes were handed out to the pupils who took part in this year’s Dìleab an t-Siorraidh.
To participate they were asked to prepare a short presentation of about five minutes, before conversing with the two judges, Donald Martin and Maletta MacPhail, for another five minutes. As expected, pupils chose to speak on a wide range of topics and the judges’ job was not an easy one! Daniel Macleod, from Back School, was eventually declared overall winner with his lively and engaging conversation about his cats. The judges said: “The dialogue was simply enjoyable and as natural as can be. We enjoyed how comfortable Daniel was [conversing] with us.”
Unlike similar competitions, this project made use of e-Sgoil’s technology, allowing the pupils to converse with the judges through a screen from their own schools. Daniel was awarded 58 out of a possible 60 points, a truly remarkable achievement, with Leanne Davis from Stornoway Primary close behind him, and Seumas Smith (Stornoway Primary) and Angus Campbell (Leverhulme School) in joint third place. Each participating pupil was awarded £10 and there were larger sums, up to £50, for the best.
Representatives from various groups were present at the ceremony, among them Alasdair Allan MSP, Murdo Morrison from Bòrd na Gàidhlig and Malcolm Burr on behalf of the Comhairle. They all praised the pupils for their achievements and encouraged them to continue using their Gaelic. Sheriff Colin Scott Mackenzie who handed out the awards and set up this project with his own money in order to encourage pupils to make use of their Gaelic ability, was greatly praised for his generosity. 47 P7 pupils from 12 primary schools in Lewis and Harris took part.
It is hoped that the project will go from strength to strength and that it will be widened out to include the Uists and Barra in years to come. In addition to the benefits to the participating pupils, EducationScotland have shown an interest in the assessments and hope that they can be used to set arbitration standards for pupils about to leave primary school.