Glasgow EAL at risk - asylum fund is cut

20th May 2011 at 01:00
Loss of pound;186,000 fund for asylum-seekers' children forces review of bilingual unit

Glasgow has been forced to review its service for non-English speaking secondary pupils, following the withdrawal of pound;186,000 funding by the UK Border Agency.

Sixteen per cent of Glasgow's school population has English as an additional language. Shawlands Academy's bilingual unit, which this year worked with 86 pupils speaking 20 different languages, is particularly vulnerable under the review.

A spokeswoman for Glasgow City Council said it was anxious to retain as many teachers as possible working with EAL pupils and was talking to teachers in the service to get their views.

However, it effectively has two choices. The first is the status quo - retaining the Shawlands unit, which teaches up to 100 pupils from various mainstream schools during the school year, while other specialist teachers support a further 150 EAL pupils in their local secondary schools. This would require the council to make up the pound;186,000 shortfall elsewhere. The second option is to disband the unit and spread the service across the city, deploying EAL specialists as peripatetic teachers to work with pupils in their own local school.

The latter is the model adopted for primary in 2009, when Glasgow's EAL service for younger pupils was reviewed. The authority decided that rather than have the service concentrated in one area of the city, the teachers would go to the children.

A spokeswoman for the council said: "Children are at the heart of what we do and are a major factor in the review of this service. We want to ensure that what the service is currently delivering gives the best education outcome for EAL secondary pupils."

Glasgow City Council has received annual funding from the UKBA since 2000, when it was designated as the destination for thousands of asylum-seekers entering Britain. Since then, it has become by far the biggest magnet for non-English speaking families entering Scotland.

The UKBA funding for housing support and other services was ended on April 1 as part of wider cuts by the agency. It included the pound;186,000 administration costs of providing education for the children of asylum- seekers through the Glasgow Asylum Seeker Support Project, which has been disbanded as a result of the cuts.

elizabeth.buie@tes.co.uk.

EAL in figures

7% - The proportion of Glasgow's school population with EAL in 2001

16% - The proportion of Glasgow's school population with EAL in 2011

9,800 - The number of children with EAL in Glasgow in 2008

11,641 - The number of children with EAL in 2011

117 - The number of languages spoken in Glasgow schools.

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