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Immigrant Children

Volume 941: debated on Wednesday 14 December 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if she is now in a position to comment on the amounts of money which will be required by the education authorities to comply with the directive on the training of immigrant children; and what specific plans she has to enable immigrant children to be taught in the language of their mother tongue.

The teaching of English as a second language has long been a normal part of our educational provision, and no specific extra expenditure is contemplated. The directive does not confer an individual entitlement to tuition in the mother tongue, and I do not envisage any signficant increase in expenditure in present circumstances.The promotion of tuition of this type must initially involve research into the educational implications of introducing such provision on a large scale and how the curricular and logistical difficulties might be overcome. A pilot project, financed by the European Social Fund, investigating the educational effects of mother tongue and culture tuition, is under way in several Bedford schools, where Italian and Punjabi children are taught their mother tongue as part of the curriculum.