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30 November 2011
Breaking down language barriers at inner city school

Parents at an inner city primary school who speak little or no English are to get free lessons thanks to University of Nottingham students and the global information company Experian.

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More than 80 per cent of children at Greenfields Community School in the Meadows area of Nottingham come from minority ethnic communities and speak a range of 25 different languages.

Three quarters of the children speak English as an additional language and, with some parents still not speaking much English, communication with teachers and engaging with their child’s education can be difficult.

But now Experian and The University of Nottingham are launching a scheme to provide a course of free English lessons to groups of parents to help break down the language barriers which can prevent parents from actively engaging with school.

The outreach project is the brainchild of a team of IT specialists at Experian who enlisted the expertise of the School of Education and the School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies to organize the syllabus and delivery of the teaching.

Groups of up to 10 parents will receive a series of five, two-hour classes at the school starting on Wednesday 9 November 2011. They will be taught by four students with a range of supplementary materials and a crèche at the local SureStart Centre provided by funds raised by Experian.

The parents who take the classes will learn by taking part in a range of communicative activities and a course of study tailored to help them with everyday life in the city, for example, asking for directions and shopping. At the end of the five week course the participants will receive a certificate of completion from The University of Nottingham.

Headteacher of Greenfields Community School, Terry Smith, said: “Teaching such a diverse mix of cultures is rewarding and fascinating.  However, with some of our parents having limited English language skills, it can impact on the way they interact with teachers and also affected their confidence when it came to being involved in their children’s education. The school is delighted to be working with the University and Experian on supporting our parents.”

Director of Centre for English Language Education (CELE) in the School of Education, Associate Professor Julie King added: “This is a wonderful initiative because it benefits not only the parents in the Meadows community in terms of helping them develop their communicative language skills, but also those students at The University of Nottingham who are interested in a career in English Language Teaching and can now have some hands-on, practical experience in this local context where there is a real and immediate need for English language development.”

Nina Turner, Head of Delivery, Project Management Office & Business Analysis Credit Services Global Product Development at Experian UK&I said: “As part of our ongoing relationship with Greenfields Community School, a small team of IT specialists at Experian developed this unique idea to support and educate local parents at the school.
“It is incredibly rewarding for us to see the impact this scheme is having on parents, their children and teachers by delivering something that creates lasting benefit for the school and the community.”

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