Schools forced to hire Polish teaching assistants to translate for pupils

The Mail is reporting that schools are having to employ teaching assistants on £65 a day to translate for Eastern European pupils.

…One post at a Liverpool primary school will pay up to £300 a week plus expenses for a teaching assistant fluent in Polish. The role is needed for just one pupil…

…Association of Teachers and Lecturers president Kim Knappett said schools with translators, including teaching assistants, now had a bigger role to play in schools.

She added schools with a higher proportion of pupils with a first language from an Eastern European country were facing ‘real challenges’.

Almost 200,000 pupils in the country now have an Eastern European first language – up from around 52,000 seven years ago…

Mum-of-three Cherie Twitchen, 28, told the Sun on Sunday: ‘More than half my daughter’s class are from a foreign background.

‘One teacher speaks half in English, half in Polish. It takes twice the time and slows the children’s learning.’…

A message on Park Academy’s website says: ‘We all smile in the same language.’ The school’s phone answering service has an option for Polish to be used.

Park Academy head teacher Claire Pinder said it was important to celebrate different cultures and languages in school…

More at Schools forced to hire Polish teaching assistants at £65 a day to translate for influx of Eastern European children


Isn’t the point here that schools needing to do this surely should be entitled to additional funding to help cover the costs involved?

And what about the comment from the parent about learning being slowed? Valid?

Please give us your feedback and insights in the comments or via Twitter…

Are you a trainee teacher, NQT, teacher, headteacher, parent or  just someone who cares about education and has something to get off  your chest in a Schools Improvement Guest Post? Follow this link for more details at the bottom of the page.

Don’t forget you can sign up to receive our daily email bulletin (around 7am) with all the latest schools news stories. Your details will never be given to anyone else and you can unsubscribe at any stage. Just follow this link.

We now have a Facebook page - please click to like!


Teenager in hospital and two boys arrested after stabbing at secondary school
At what age can children be left alone?
Categories: Primary, Secondary and Teaching.


  1. The Mail’s headline and sub-headings implies all schools are facing ‘real challenges’ due to the influx of pupils who can’t speak English.  But the article finds just a ‘dozen’ vacancies for bi-lingual TAs.
    That said, funding should be made available quickly to such schools.  Stewart Jackson, MP for Peterborough which also has a large number of such children, asked for additional funding.  He argued the pupil premium didn’t cover such pupils (unless, of course, they were eligible for free school meals but this isn’t always the case).  
    It doesn’t necessarily follow that having EAL pupils has a negative effect.  Jackson cited Fulbridge Academy in Peterborough where 68.5% of pupils were EAL when Ofsted judged its predecessor school Outstanding in 2012.
    It should be remembered, however, that EAL is a wide category which ranges from bi-lingual pupils who are fluent in two languages and pupils who speak little or no English at all.   The Mail would be better supporting Jackson’s plea for swift additional funding for affected LAs rather than implying it’s a national problem caused by the children of EU immigrants.  The situation is more nuanced.  For example, many children of settled immigrants from the Indian sub-continent in Peterborough speak English poorly because their families continue to speak their native language at home.  
    Debate on EAL (pupil support) is here

  2. DiLeed

    “For example, many children of settled immigrants from
    the Indian sub-continent in Peterborough speak English poorly because
    their families continue to speak their native language at home.”
    This is not the case. The intersectional challenges for underachieving EAL pupil groups, many born in the UK and thus advanced EAL learners,  are well documented, not least here 
    There is no research evidence, in the UK or internationally, that speaking a language other than English at home is a disadvantage.  There is much to indicate that it is an advantage, provided other factors such as poverty are taken into account and appropriate pedagogy and language enrichment provided.

  3. DiLeed You’re right that bi-lingualism can be an advantage but that’s only the case if the children are fluent in both languages (ie those you described as ‘advanced EAL learners’).  The problem in Peterborough was highlighted by MP Stewart Jackson:
    ‘Peterborough’s long-standing Pakistani community, and the growing preponderance of Panjabi and Urdu speakers—even fourth generation—for cultural reasons, results in many young Pakistani-heritage pupils struggling with English reading and writing.’
    The report you cited recognises this:
    ‘It is proficiency in the English language that is the major factor influencing the degree of
    support an individual student will require.’

    That support is, as you indicate, ‘appropriate pedagogy and language enrichment’.   MP Stewart Jackson was asking for funding to address this need – a need which is not decided on whether a child is labelled EAL but by the child’s degree of proficiency in English.

  4. TW

    People who can speak English and are able to also speak another language are people who can speak English – what a shock.

    Perhaps the EU should give us back some of our money to pay the additional costs arising from those East Europeans who can’t speak English.

  5. MamiSkilts

    SchoolsImprove Diversity, Inclusion, Employment. Pupil can also teach Polish to peers and receive English in return. Pay it forward.

Let us know what you think...