Page last updated at 10:37 GMT, Tuesday, 22 September 2009 11:37 UK

Schools 'hamper' migrant children

Children in a playground
Inspectors said there were weaknesses in the system

Many migrant children are taking a long time to settle in at school because staff are not given enough resources to deal with them, a study has said.

The HM Inspectorate of Education report said many migrant children were underachieving in Scotland as a result.

Inspectors said staff had not been given enough guidance on dealing with migrant children.

The report also said many education authorities had yet to adjust to record high migration levels.

Graham Donaldson, HM senior chief inspector of schools, said there were "long-standing weaknesses" in supporting new arrivals who did not have English as their first language.

He said: "The increasing numbers of children and young people arriving from outwith the UK means that more children and staff in Scottish schools are experiencing those weaknesses in support first-hand."

His comments came after HMIE education inspectorate highlighted several failings at a time of growing pressures on schools.

A few schools have established clear and well-considered practices that involve admissions and induction arrangements to help children settle quickly and to have a sense of belonging
HMIE report

In 2005, the number of immigrants to Scotland from the rest of the UK and abroad exceeded by 21,6000 the numbers leaving Scotland.

A total of 26 local authorities reported a "significant" rise in new pupils from migrant families and some councils reported a 100% increase, with most new arrivals coming from Poland.

Children in Scottish schools now have 80 home languages.

"Most newly-arrived children and young people, especially those at secondary school, feel that teachers do not have sufficiently high expectations of their achievements," said the report.

"They feel that their potential is being underestimated as a result of their lack of proficiency in the English language.

"Some Polish children in particular spoke about the lack of challenge of learning, particularly in mathematics."

'Not well informed'

And the report said pupils at one school, which it did not identify, felt "marginalised" by being prevented from using their home language and being made to sit apart at lunchtime from other children who had the same home language.

"A few schools have established clear and well-considered practices that involve admissions and induction arrangements to help children settle quickly and to have a sense of belonging," said the report.

"However most education authorities and schools do not have clearly-stated policies for welcoming newly-arrived children and their families."

Only a few schools had school information booklets in languages other than English and translations were not always high-quality.

The report added: "There are situations where children have to translate documents for their parents, including school reports on their progress.

"Overall, newly-arrived parents are not well informed about the Scottish education system."



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