SCHOOLS in Boston are dealing with an increasing number of students who do not have English as their native language, figures have shown.
In some schools in Boston more than 50 per cent of children registered are not native speakers of English, with many having seen the figure more than double in the past five years. At Staniland School, the number shot up from 30 in 2007 to 140 in 2011.
Yet, despite challenges undeniably caused by increasing numbers, some of the most affected schools have said they believe the change has brought about a lot of benefits.
Adrian Reed, executive headteacher of the Witham Schools Federation, which includes Haven High Technology College, and Carlton Road and Staniland primary schools – some of the schools with the highest number of pupils with English as an additional language (EAL) – said it had been a challenge to cater for the large numbers of EAL students to begin with, but it had become easier over time.
Mr Reed (pictured) added: “It’s very easy to see the challenges this causes, but if you look at some areas of Lincolnshire there are falling rolls and small local primary schools are under threat of closure. That’s not the case in Boston. If we didn’t have these pupils, the future of the schools would be in question.”
About 37 per cent of the total roll at the three schools are EAL students and nine extra language staff are employed to help these students.
At Park Primary School, more than 50 per cent of the students speak English as an additional language.
Principal Carol Clare told The Standard the school ‘would not want it any other way.’
She added: “We have a very positive attitude. We cope with it very well, which has been shown in our latest SATs results - we have achieved the best results in the Boston area.
“It has always brought a lot of benefits. We had children who had never set foot outside Boston, and then suddenly the world was brought to them. It’s just opened their world up. It’s been incredible.”
According to county council figures 114 out of 217 pupils at Park Primary School had English as an additional language at the last count in 2011. The school has a full-time EAL teaching assistant and works to support children from other countries and their families to become part of the school community.
Lincolnshire County Council provides funding to schools with EAL students to contribute towards extra provision needed for students who have been in the country for less than two years, including bilingual books, language assistants and training for staff.
Jill Chandar-Nair, inclusion and attendance service manager for the authority, said: “There is now a significant amount of expertise in the Boston area. Schools have been sharing this expertise and good practice amongst themselves. Some schools have shown true commitment to meeting the needs of EAL children and their families through introducing a range of projects and initiatives.