Research from Bradford and East Renfrewshire shows assistants, normally native Urdu and Punjabi speakers, improve pupil attendance because of their work with parents. Assistants visit homes to talk about books and how to support children's learning. This leads to growing self-confidence in pupils.
Dundee's bilingual pupil support service works with 800 pupils in 30 primaries and five secondaries and a staff of eight full-time equivalent teachers.
But following an audit of support for ethnic pupils, the city is keen to employ two bilingual assistants to replace a retiring senior teacher. Some duties currently carried out by teachers may be handed over.
The new staff will be targeted at early intervention work to strengthen basic grasp of the English language. They will help translate school letters, co-operate with the interpreting service, work with parents to reduce the isolation many families experience and develop classroom materials.
Bilingual assistants are already employed in East Renfrewshire, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Fife. Staff in Dundee are likely to work a 30-hour week and could earn around Pounds 13,000.