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Campaign to save the English as an Additional Language Service (EALs)

The EALs service has been running in East Sussex for approximately 25 years. It provides teachers and Bilingual Support Officers to work with students in schools where English is not their first language. There are currently 250 children and young people accessing the service across the county so far this academic year and EALS receives new referrals throughout the year, so the number is rising weekly. The total for 2017-18 was 471.

At the end of last year, the secondary School’s Forum representatives decided to withdraw from pooling resources from secondary schools (resulting in a £137,000 cut to EALS funding from April 2019) but the primary representatives voted unanimously to continue pooling (securing more than £400,000 for EALS to continue delivering support to primary schools). The county has determined that this reduction in funding makes the provision of the service unviable and is currently running a web based “consultation” on the following links:

Information and on-line survey for East Sussex SCHOOLS – STAFF

Information and on-line survey for East Sussex PARENTS, CARERS and COMMUNITY STAKEHOLDERS (RESIDENTS)

Information and on-line survey for East Sussex PUPILS and STUDENTS

The closing date for the consultation is 3 February so there is not much time. People are being urged to fill in the questionnaire and spread the word to others to do the same. Also, to write to local county councillors, although there is a postcard campaign being run from the National Education Union as well.

Consultation has already started with the staff regarding redundancies. If the service is cut, then the secondary service will stop at the end of March and the primary one in August. 14 staff will be made redundant, many of whom are very long serving.

This decision will have the greatest impact on Hastings and St Leonards since we have a Home Office designation for asylum seekers dispersal. Many of the families in receipt of the service are traumatised and vulnerable and need the security of help from someone to enable their children to access education when they do not speak English. The school’s forum minutes are on the East Sussex County Council web site and at the meeting which made the decision (28/9/18) there were very few voting members present and no representation from Hastings & St Leonards.

The County is trying to blame the secondary schools for the decision, whereas there is no reason why they should not continue the service. Their responsibility and decision lie with the County, not the schools. There has been no attempt to look at different ways of delivering the service or restructuring, as has been done in Brighton & Hove, Wiltshire & Portsmouth. The schools do not want the service to stop.

This cut will have an enormous impact on our most vulnerable community in Hastings & St Leonards and you are urged to get involved in the campaign.

Jay Kramer