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Wednesday, November 3, 1999 Published at 16:39 GMT


Schools demand funding for asylum seekers

Schools say that asylum seekers need extra help

Asylum seekers' children need extra support in schools, says a local authority, as it calls on the government for additional funding.

Southend Borough Council is calling for financial assistance from the government to provide extra facilities for an influx of pupils from eastern Europe.

But it rejects claims from local MP, David Amess, that the asylum seekers are creating a shortage of places, with the borough asserting that it can accommodate all pupils in need of a school place.

The borough, which has 88 asylum-seeker pupils in its primary and secondary schools, says that extra money is needed to hire interpreters and to provide for counsellors.

The pupils, who come from countries including Bosnia, Croatia, Yugoslavia and Zaire, need support with learning English.

A council spokesman says that a number of these pupils are also in need of help from counsellors, having experienced trauma, bereavement and disruptions before leaving their homelands.

The council is calling on the government to provide extra funds to help schools with asylum seekers, in the same way that it provides additional support for schools with traveller pupils.

Last year, the government announced funding of £1.5m to support schools teaching the estimated 50,000 children of travellers.

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