Teachers fear cuts to ESL help

English as a second language classes at risk. Picture: Luke Fuda
English as a second language classes at risk. Picture: Luke Fuda
Education at risk: Amber Flohm. Picture: Luke Fuda

Education at risk: Amber Flohm. Picture: Luke Fuda

LIVERPOOL'S refugee and migrant children may be at risk of missing out on English language training under a state government school funding scheme, say area teachers.

Amber Flohm, the multicultural officer for the NSW Teachers Federation said there was concern that the Local Schools, Local Decisions model may put English as a second language classes in jeopardy throughout the state.

"This would be particularly detrimental to Liverpool because of the high population of migrant and refugee students in this area," Ms Flohm said.

"The new scheme won't guarantee ESL teacher positions and the government has already cut the ESL and multicultural consultants who used to facilitate the teachers' professional learning."

The Local Schools, Local Decisions program aims to give more autonomy to local principals to make budgetary decisions, once made by the Department of Education.

"A sum of money will be given to the school and then the principal would decide how it will be spent and they may prioritise something above ESL," Ms Flohm said.

She said more than a fifth of students across the state now required ESL tuition.

"But that number is much higher in Liverpool and Fairfield because these suburbs are the high settlement areas," she said.

The Teachers Federation has been leading a campaign against the changes.

Ms Flohm said the NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli and other officials have told them they trust principals to continue to allocate the funds to ESL programs.

Kimberley Li, a youth worker at the Liverpool Migrant Resource Centre said many of her students are concerned about the potential impact on ESL classes.

"I run a homework program for young refugees and migrants in our area and they take their education very seriously," Ms Li said.

"Many of them have missed out on a lot of education before coming to Australia.

"While they may be smart and committed to their studies they may not have the language skills to write an essay."

School funding under the state government's new scheme will be delivered through the Resource Allocation Model designed to target specific students needs at each school.

NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli said the funding that each school is to receive for ESL will be determined by the allocation model from this school year.

He said the teacher resources available to support English language learners will remain the same this year.

"School learning support officers are also being allocated to provide bilingual support for schools with high numbers of refugee students," Mr Piccoli said.


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