Education news

Views sought on newcomer pupils' policy

The policy aims to support schools in welcoming newcomers into their communities

THE public is being asked for its views on how `newcomer pupils' should be supported in education.

The Department of Education has launched a public consultation on its existing Supporting Newcomer Pupils policy.

A newcomer pupil is one who speaks a different language at home than the one used in their school, and who needs extra help to understand the language used in the classroom.

Over recent years there has been a significant increase in families from different countries coming to the north.

About 16,000 young people are now classed as newcomers - about 4.4 per cent of the school population.

The policy is a decade old and the department wants to review it to ensure it is effective and reflects current and future needs.

Its aim is to support schools in welcoming newcomers into their communities, so they are assisted in their acquisition of the language of instruction, whether English or Irish, in an inclusive manner.

This will help them access the curriculum in particular, and participate in every aspect of school life.

"The current Supporting Newcomer Pupils policy has been in place for a decade. During this time there has been an increase in the number and diversity of newcomer pupils in our schools," a department spokeswoman said.

"We need to know if our policy still meets the needs of these pupils, and what changes we could make to ensure these young people thrive and reach their full potential.

"We welcome all views on how this goal can be achieved but would particularly value comments from current and former newcomer pupils, their parents and guardians, schools and individual teachers working with newcomers; and from stakeholders and community organisations actively working to support these families."

The consultation document and response booklet are available at www.education-ni.gov.uk/consultations/supporting-newcomer-pupils. The documents have also been published in several languages including Arabic, Bulgarian, Polish and Latvian.

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