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Interpreters scheme shortlisted for award
A PROJECT which started at two Basingstoke schools, to help children whose first language is not English, has been shortlisted for a national award.
Hampshire Young Interpreters, a scheme developed by Hampshire County Council’s Ethnic Minority and Traveller Achievement service, in partnership with schools, is up for the 2013 Guardian Public Services Awards, in the Grassroots Excellence category.
The project uses peer mentoring to promote inclusion and overcome prejudices. It was rolled out across Hampshire after being set up at Kings Furlong Infant School and Nursery, in Upper Chestnut Drive, Basingstoke, and Fairfields Primary School, in Council Road, Basingstoke.
Children are trained as interpreters to support pupils starting at the school who speak little English.
It helps the new pupils settle in and encourages them to share their culture and traditions with their new classmates.
Since being piloted six years ago, it has been developed into a project that now has a global reach and operates in more than 30 Hampshire schools.
It has been adopted by schools in 21 other local authorities, has been used at the International Community School in Amman, Jordon, and has attracted interest from New Zealand and the United State.
Speaking about the shortlisting, Councillor Peter Edgar, executive member for education, said: “This is fantastic news. This is an immensely worthwhile scheme that enables young people to develop empathy and compassion for their peers from other cultures while giving practical support to children coming into the community whose first language is not English.
“The peer supporters’ capacity to learn is expanded and those children they are supporting are able to get the most from their education at the earliest opportunity as well as make friends more easily so that they are not left feeling isolated.”
The scheme is one of only three projects, selected from entries by councils across the country, to go through to the final judging stage which will take place in London on November 12.
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