EAL teachers deserve better support

31st October 2008 at 00:00

I write to clarify some matters raised in your report of my seminar at the Scottish Learning Festival, which was delivered in my capacity as education convener of the Educational Institute of Scotland, under the somewhat lurid headline, "Scots-born Asians 'squeezed out'" (October 10).

I appreciate that it is difficult to report a 40-minute presentation in a few paragraphs, but I do feel that the context for some of the reported comments was not fully explained. For instance, I am reported as being critical of Glasgow City Council's service for English as an additional language (EAL) when, in fact, I spent some considerable time praising the council's commitment to it and highlighting the authority's significant financial provision.

The key point I made was that additional funding was required from the Scottish Government to allow the service to expand in order to meet the ever-growing demand. It is a view I know is shared by the council's director of education, who has written twice to ministers on this very issue.

Your news item also refers a number of times to "bilingual Asian pupils" as if that was a homogenous group. The vast majority of Scots-born bilingual pupils have no additional EAL needs. The need to recognise and develop bilingualism as a potential strength in our education system, avoiding a "deficit-model" syndrome, was one of the themes I tried to develop in the presentation.

For pupils with additional EAL needs, however, it needs to be said that teachers across Scotland are delivering beyond the call of duty at present, and we deserve more support from politicians.

Larry Flanagan, education committee convener, Educational Institute of Scotland.

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