‘Vital’ East Sussex-wide service teaching English as second language saved from closure

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Children whose first language is not English will continue to be supported by a ‘vital’ East Sussex-wide service as it has been saved from closure.

Following a decision made by maintained secondary schools last year not to pool funding for the English as an Additional Language Service (EALS), a consultation was launched into the closure of the East Sussex County Council-run service.

During the consultation the secondary headteachers reviewed their decision and have agreed to pool funding for the next financial year 2019/20.

They have also agreed to work with primary schools and academies to consider alternatives options for the delivery of the service.

Uckfield College principal Hugh Hennebry, chair of the East Sussex Schools Forum and a representative of East Sussex maintained secondary schools, said: “We are pleased to have reached this agreement to support the service for these vulnerable pupils for another year, and welcome the opportunity to look at new ways for schools to use the resources provided by the DfE to agree a more sustainable delivery model.”

An East Sussex County Council spokesman said: “We are pleased that the secondary school leaders have agreed to fund the service for a further year. The delivery of EALS is wholly dependent on the funding from schools, who would otherwise have to buy in the support from outside of East Sussex County Council.”

The National Education Union (NEU) has campaigned against the EALS’ closure.

The NEU argued that, as primary schools accounted for around three-quarters of the funding, the county council’s insistence on closing the whole service was unnecessary, and union members produced detailed funding proposals to back this up.

Dave Brinson, branch secretary for the NEU in East Sussex, said: “My members working in the service have argued all along that it is efficient and sustainable. It is a vital service supporting some of the most vulnerable students in our schools.

“Hundreds of parents, teachers and other members of the local community have tirelessly lobbied their local councillors over this issue and should rightly be proud of achieving today’s result.

“My members look forward to working positively with schools and the local authority in making sure that this vital service can have a long-term future.”