A FOREIGN language school in a Northumberland town has been given a major cash boost from an educational charity.
The Saturday Polish School in Berwick has been awarded £80,000 from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and a smaller grant from the local Co-operative Membership Community Fund to allow it to widen its activities.
The school was set up three years ago with the aim of encouraging children in Berwick with a Polish background to keep in touch with the language. It also has a class for teaching English as an Additional Language to children from any foreign background.
Now the organisation is hoping to work with mainstream schools in Northumberland to offer additional English lessons to children struggling in the subject. It is already working with schools in Blyth, Berwick, Wooler and Alnwick.
Saturday school founder Dr Beata Kohlbek said: “We worked with three mainstream schools during the last school year but with the new grant we are already working with migrant children in six different schools and are currently speaking to four more schools about English lessons.
“The current language support offered by our local authorities is not sufficient and any additional help should be considered.”
The steering group running the Saturday School has further plans for the project and is looking into opening another class for children from a Russian- speaking background to allow them to keep in touch with Russian.
There are also plans to set up a nursery group for pre-school children who only speak Polish or Russian at home and need more exposure to English before they start school.
Dr Kohlbek said: “More families from a migrant background contact me with ideas of how we can help them and their children. Usually it is to do with learning English or keeping in touch with their first language.
“We are delighted to see the Saturday School as a multicultural project where nationalities mix and the local community is becoming more integrated and open-minded.”
The Berwick project has been approached by a Polish community in Hawick, in the Scottish Borders who would like to open a branch of the Saturday Polish School in their area.