Education Minister John O’Dowd has met the Portuguese Consul-General to discuss educational issues affecting the migrant Portuguese school-age population living in the north of Ireland.
Dr Carlos de Sousa Amaro is visiting the Portadown area this week.
Speaking after the meeting, John O’Dowd said:
“I welcome the opportunity to discuss the educational needs of the Portuguese community living here. They are among 10,000 newcomer children in our schools and indications are that these numbers are increasing. My expectations for newcomer pupils are no less than for any other child. I want to see pupils from all sections of our society do well in education and I will continue to work hard to ensure that our education system has the needs of young people at its centre.”
The Minister outlined how his Department assists newcomer pupils. He said:
“The Inclusion and Diversity Service provides support and capacity building training to all grant aided schools and special schools for newcomer pupils. The service is responsible for assessing priorities, monitoring and responding to areas of need such as pastoral, curricular, linguistic and inter-cultural. Toolkits are also available for schools to create and sustain a welcoming and inclusive environment for students and parents from all backgrounds. The ‘toolkits’ provide advice to teachers on language development for pupils for whom English is not the first language."
Concluding, the Minister said:
“I have agreed to continue discussions with the Portuguese representatives to see how we learn from each other to improve educational outcomes for newcomer children.”