Proposals to teach pupils at Gaelic medium schools in smaller classes than the national maximum of 25 have been branded "unjustifiable and unfair".From purely a language teaching point of view, the SNP’s justification is actually a valid one; one of the reasons why the UK does so appallingly at teaching second European languages is the size of classes. Effective teaching of (and in) a second language, unlike other subjects such as mathematics and science, can’t be done by rote- it needs that individual attention paid to each student.
Labour said the suggestion to limit classes to 15 would anger many parents of pupils in mainstream primary schools who are disappointed that the SNP has broken its election pledge to reduce P1-P3 class sizes to 18.
The government argues that P1-3 and composite classes in Gaelic-medium units should be smaller because of the "extra responsibilities" and "different task" faced by Gaelic-medium teachers trying to develop fluency in a second language.
Bord na Gaidhlig, the body set up to promote Gaelic, has called for an upper limit of 15 pupils for Gaelic-medium classes in P1.
Labour Party education spokesman Des McNulty said: "This is a government that promised to reduce class sizes for all P1-P3 children and has failed to deliver.
"Now as class sizes increase due to SNP cuts the government is arguing that a special case should be made for children in Gaelic medium classes to be taught in classes as small as 15 pupils, when other pupils are in classes of 25.
"The SNP's approach appears discriminatory and many people will see it as being unjustifiable and unfair."
Mr McNulty said many teachers in Scotland face demanding circumstances such as those who have to deal with children with serious learning difficulties in the same class.
"Every year there are 13,000 children who leave primary school unable to read and write properly," he added.
"These are the pupils who need our support most and where additional resources should be channelled first."
The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) is also opposed to the plans, which are subject to consultation, and argues that all teachers have to deal with "particular challenges".
However, (and this is a PR lesson Ms Ruane would do well to learn and quickly) even the slightest perception of discrimination in favour of children being educated at "indigenous" language schools ultimately damages, not helps the development of such languages in the long term. A hard juggling act admittedly.