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Award offers lifeline

A lifeline for an innovative project that creates ICT resources to promote ethnic minority achievement and race equality has been extended by a pound;3,000 prize in this year's RamesysTES Learning Environment Awards.

The Portsmouth LEA Ethnic Minority Achievement Service National Grid for Learning (NGfL) project - winner of the Collaboration category of the awards - has been running for four years, with great success. But funding ceased last month, and now the project is relying on its prize money for survival while it searches for alternative sources of finance.

Chris Pim, project leader, says: "In previous years, schools have agreed to buy our services using ICT in Schools Standards Fund money. Now their budgets have become so tight they have decided to take the money in-house.

Our prize will continue to fund my time for two to three more months. We are actively seeking to collaborate on initiatives with public or private partners."

The project has worked with schools, parents and community groups to produce a range of bi-lingual and first-language resources including electronic books, games and multimedia activity packs. Showcased online at www.blss.portsmouth.sch.uk they are used in schools across the country.

Chris says: "We work mainly with children who speak English as an additional language. We are trying to provide a route into the education system, and also celebrate the fact that children are possibly very literate in their first language. We can help them apply those skills to learning English.

"But the issues go beyond language support and we believe cultural diversity and race equality need to be raised on the agenda. If we cannot tackle these core issues when children are at school, then when is it going to happen?"

* For full coverage of the RamesysTES Learning Environment Awards see pages 10-11

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