Non-native speakers need more support

21st December 2007 at 00:00
The demands of teaching pupils with languages as diverse as Nepali and Lithuanian are putting strains on schools even in rural Scotland, prompting the two largest teaching unions to demand more government support.

The Educational Institute of Scotland and the Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association have made separate pleas for more English as an additional language specialists, better resources and more professional development.

David Eaglesham, general secretary of the SSTA, said: "The recent large increase in the number of Polish, Romanian, and other eastern European families settling in Scotland has put considerable strain on our schools.

"Many of the children of these families have little or no English and need additional support to make full use of the education services on offer. These children are excellent in their attendance and willingness to learn, but much more assistance with translation from their mother tongue into English is required."

Ronnie Smith, EIS general secretary, said there was an impact on the learning and teaching process for pupils from migrant families and their English-speaking classmates.

"In many areas, even where specialist EAL support is available, the resources are being spread far too thin, with only a very limited number of specialist EAL teachers expected to support hundreds of pupils with very different needs, across dozens of schools," he said.

Mr Eaglesham cited Dumfries and Galloway. Dumfries Academy has three Polish, one Ukranian, three Lithuanian, four Chinese, two Chechen, one Colombian, two Serbian and one Pakistani pupil; and Moffat Academy has one Nepalese, three Polish and one Thai pupil.

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said: "Officials have had meetings at senior level with representatives of the EIS and the Scottish EAL co-ordinating council to discuss these issues, and are due to report back to ministers soon.

"The new funding and delivery partnerships recently announced between the Scottish Government and local government will contain measures to address additional support needs in education, including those arising from EAL."

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