Interpreters cost schools thousands
Schools in the Black Country are forking out thousands of pounds to pay for interpreters for children who do not speak English.
The schools receive a nominal fee from the Government but the amount of money they receive is worked out per pupil using a formula, meaning that schools with high numbers of pupils coming in from abroad are still having to fork out around £25 an hour for interpreters.
This leaves them with less to invest in education. Richard Kentish, head at Cape Primary, Smethwick, said they would love to see more cash. They have pupils from 18 different nationalities with languages including English, Somali, Urdu, Russian and Albanian.He said: “Wherever possible we employ bilingual classroom assistants, which makes life easier for the youngsters.
“This isn’t an extra cost, as they are staff we would be employing anyway.
“The expense comes when we have pupils starting at the school that have no English whatsoever.
“In this case we have a dedicated programme in place and teach them basic survival language.
“This includes the basics of how to get by and, when they have grasped that, they move into normal classes.
“This is a very successful method and some of the youngsters have achieved great things, but we have to provide interpreters for certain languages, which cost £25 an hour.”
This one-to-one tuition would cost £4,550 – more than 10 times the £450 per pupil it gets in grant aid for foreign students.
Councillor Ian Jones, Sandwell Council cabinet member for children and young people, said: “We do not employ interpreters. However, when a new pupil arrives unable to speak English the school can claim a grant of £450 which can be used to pay for the pupil to learn basic English as soon as possible.
“Then they are taught in mainstream classes.”