In April 1976 the Board, at the request of its Gaelic Panel, set up a Sub-Committee of the Panel to investigate the problem of Gaelic orthography insofar as it affected the Board's examinations.

In making its request, the Panel had pointed out that there had been numerous complaints from SCE Examiners about candidates' spelling of Gaelic, and that actual evidence produced by the Principal Examiner indicated beyond doubt that the standard of spelling fell far below the requisite levels on both the Ordinary and Higher grades.

The Panel indicated its belief that the lack of an authoritative set of published orthographic conventions to which reference might be made by teachers and candidates, both native speakers and learners alike, was an important factor leading to this situation.

The remit of the Sub-Committee was to produce as set of standard orthographic conventions which would be utilised by the Board's Examiners, Setters and Markers as basic criteria in dealing with Gaelic examination papers and scripts and would serve as a guide to teachers and to candidates preparing for the examinations.

The proposals of the Sub-Committe, approved by the Panel, were issued to nominated interested bodies for comment in December 1978. Following consideration of the comments submitted, the Sub-Committee amended the document and presented it to the Board's Gaelic Panel, which has now finalised the conventions, incorporating some further modifications.

The Panel wishes to record its indebtedness and gratitude for the work done by the Sub-Committee and for the contributions of individual members. In fairness to the members of the Sub-Committe it should be noted that the responsibility for the content of the document as now presented rests solely with the Panel.

It is hoped that the principles set out in this document will go someway towards removing the inconsistencies, indecisions and minor irritations that arise from the absence of a firmly defined standard, and that in doing so they will help teachers and learners (and indeed all writers of Gaelic) to write the language more confidently. The Panel is keenly aware that Gaelic is at present at an interesting stage of development, from a social and educational as well as from a linguistic point of view. This has been kept continually in mind and deliberations have been directed to ensuring that the orthographic flexibility required for these developments should be retained. Clearly this did not make the task easier, but the burden was lightened by the realisation that the subject of study was a language that has retained great vitality and versatility.

These orthographic conventions will be followed in the Borad's question papers in and after 1985. Candidates will be required to use the conventions in and after 1988.

1995-09-06 CPD