THE head teacher of a Burton school has praised the work of bilingual teaching assistants after revealing 75 per cent of her pupils’ first language is foreign.
Helen Coulthard, head teacher of Anglesey Primary Academy, in Clarence Street, said a team of bi and trilingual speakers face the challenge of bringing non-English speaking pupils up to scratch.
She said 16 different languages were spoken at the school while 45 per cent of the 637 pupils were from the Pakistani community and 20 per cent from Eastern Europe.
The announcement came after the Burton Mail revealed on Friday that Polish was the town’s second most spoken language.
The town is also home to more Polish, Lithuanian, Latvian, and Russian speakers than anywhere else in Staffordshire.
Mrs Coulthard, who has worked at the school since March 2010, said the teaching assistants provided valuable support in developing English as a first language for pupils.
She said: “They are absolutely brilliant in supporting the children and ensuring they make good progress.
“A child might be good at maths but not understand English terms so this way they can make progress and learn the English terminology.
“We are committed to the success of these children and some need more help at the beginning of their time in school so we need support to help them.”
Mrs Coulthard said the school will recruit a Latvian teaching assistant to join the highly skilled team which includes Polish, Hungarian, Russian and Arabic speakers.
She said: “It is a really rich and diverse community – the staff are fantastic and bring experience and expertise so everyone gains.
“As a community school and we need to meet the needs of that community.”
“It is in everybody’s interest to speak English.”