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Language Support

Volume 449: debated on Tuesday 25 July 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the range and nature is of language support services available to (a) primary and (b) secondary schools in Northern Ireland; and how much was available for language support services in each Education and Library Board area in each of the last four academic years. (86564)

The Education and Library Boards (ELBs) are responsible for ensuring that appropriate support arrangements are in place for children who have significant difficulty with English as an additional language (EAL). The range and nature of language support services available to both primary and secondary schools varies within each ELB area. Some ELBs provide peripatetic teaching staff, some offer schools the opportunity to “buy in” peripatetic services, whilst others provide support through advisers. In addition, some Boards make available interpreting services in certain languages.

The Department of Education provides earmarked funding, which must be used solely for English as an Additional Language (EAL) provision, to the Education and Library Boards. This funding was originally distributed equally across the five Boards but since 2004-05 funding has been distributed on a per capita basis for each EAL pupil recorded in the school census. The funding by ELB by financial year is shown in the following table:

Allocation

£

Board

2003-04

2004-05 (Allocated gradually)

2005-06

2006-07

BELB

80,000

110,000

159,000

160,000

NEELB

80,000

72,000

92,000

96,000

SEELB

80,000

85,000

112,000

96,000

SELB

80,000

85,000

153,000

177,000

WELB

80,000

58,000

54,000

52,000

Total

400,000

410,000

570,000

581,000

Since 2005-06, funding, additional to that provided to the ELBs, is given direct to schools through the Common Funding Formula. This funding, which is not earmarked, includes an EAL factor that targets resources directly to schools with EAL pupils. The cash value for each EAL pupil identified in the school census was £864 in 2005-06 and £912 in 2006-07. The funding by ELB by financial year is shown in the following table:

Allocations to schools

£

2003-04

2004-05

2005-06

2006-07

BELB1

73,000

129,000

432,000

614,000

NEELB

287,000

441,000

SEELB

344,000

379,000

SELB

462,000

885,000

WELB

162,000

218,000

Total

73,000

129,000

1,687,000

2,537,000

1 BELB were the only funding authority to distribute resources to schools from an EAL factor within its Local Management Schools formula, prior to the introduction of Common Funding from 2005-06.

In addition, £100,000 has been allocated in 2006-07 and £75,000 in 2007-08 within the Children and Young People's Package for regional interpreting and translation of documents services for teachers, EAL pupils and their parents.

The Department is working with the ELBs to develop a comprehensive policy and a proposal for a regional EAL service.