A CONSULTATION to ensure the long-term growth of Gaelic and Scots has been launched by the Scottish Government.

Views are being sought on the most effective ways to raise the profile of the Scots language, as well as a new strategic approach to Gaelic medium education (GME).

The creation of a designated Gaelic speaking area, known as a Gaidhealtachd will also be assessed.

It will also ensure the Bord Na Gaidhlig – the principal public body promoting Gaelic in Scotland – is operating effectively.

Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said the consultation will help build on an already growing community of Gaelic and Scots speakers.

Some 57,375 people in Scotland speak Gaelic, while 87,100 have some of the language skills, according to the 2011 census.

Meanwhile, more than 1.5 million people identified themselves as Scots speakers.

Launching the consultation during a visit to the GME unit at Goodlyburn Primary in Perth, Somerville said: “Gaelic and Scots are a significant part of Scotland’s culture and we want to ensure they thrive and grow.

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“The situation for Gaelic speakers in an improvement on 10 years ago as there are increased numbers in Gaelic medium education and more initiatives in place to support Gaelic in Scotland.

“We now need to build on what is in place and this consultation will show how we can make our measures more effective, ensuring Gaelic medium education continues to grown and provides a high quality education, that Bord na Gaidhlig operates effectively in the promotion of Gaelic, and consideration is given to the creation of a Gaidhealtachd.

“Scots is spoken throughout Scotland, but has never benefited from formal support through legislation and it may be time to consider this to help promote, strengthen and raise the profile of the language.”

Scots is the collective name for a number of dialects, including Doric, which make up a language considered separate from English.

It is understood the consultation’s feedback will be used to develop the forthcoming Scottish Language Bill.

The consultation will run until November 17.