Nearly 3,000 children in Glasgow who have English as an additional language are receiving no specialist language support, according to a report before the city's council today.
Councillors are expected to back a plan for the reorganisation of the city's EAL service, so that teachers work more flexibly across a number of schools instead of being based permanently in one school.
Union leaders have criticised the council for spreading specialist teachers more thinly, instead of investing more money into the service and increasing staffing levels.
Gordon Matheson, executive member for education and social renewal, said council officials were pressing the Scottish Government for additional funding in recognition of Glasgow's special circumstances; no other council had the range and extent of EAL needs that Glasgow had - 9,500 EAL children, 12.5 per cent of its pupil population.
But he fears Glasgow's arguments will be in vain and the Government will simply cite the concordat agreement on local government funding as a reason for not giving additional money. The council spends more than pound;5 million on the EAL service, which employs 140 staff, but will have to find pound;1.5 million to replace specific EAL funding it received from the former Scottish Executive. "If we had all the money we could realistically desire, we would still need to restructure and reorganisie the EAL service to make it fit for purpose," he said.
Following an eight-month consultation, the council wants to bring all EAL staff under the Additional Support for Learning umbrella; reallocate the majority of EAL staff, based in 44 primary and 12 secondary schools, so they work more flexibly across a cluster of schools within a New Learning Community; and deploy a small number of staff in centralised support services.
Margaret Doran, executive director of education and social work, said: "Historically, a few schools in Glasgow had bilingual learners, but no longer. Glasgow continues to meet the needs of indigenous bilingual children and young people. It must meet the needs of the children of asylum seekers, refugees and foreign national children.
"Now, almost every school in Glasgow has at least some bilingual learners on its roll. The current EAL service has developed to meet the previous distribution of bilingual children and does not meet the changing needs of the city."
Willie Hart, Glasgow secretary of the Educational Institute of Scotland, said: "While there is nothing unsatisfactory about a model that operates on a New Learning Community basis, it would be desirable to expand the service to encompass those schools which do not have sufficient EAL support. Taking the current force and effectively spreading the jam more thinly is not going to tackle the real issues."
He warned that the arrangements might mean a diminution of the service for indigenous ethnic minority pupils who do not speak English at home: "These young people do not have the same linguistic background as their white peers. Asian pupils are often successful in science and mathematics, but don't achieve the same success in English or language-related social subjects."
There are 9,500 children with EAL in Glasgow schools - 12.5 per cent of the total pupil population;
Of these, 2,400 are asylum seeker and refugee children who speak 86 different languages;
Since 2005, some 3,000 foreign national children from more than 100 countries - mainly the children of migrant workers - have enrolled in Glasgow schools;
Approximately 2,700 children with EAL are in schools with no specialist provision - 30 per cent of all EAL children in the city;
The main countries of origin of children with EAL are Poland, Slovakia, India, Pakistan and Libya.