In a Westminster Hall debate on 15th February 2011, Nick Gibb responded positively to questions on the future funding of EAL pupils. Whilst not criticising the Government's Pupil Premium policy, Stewart Jackson Conservative MP for Peterborough urged the government to take note of 'the small number of LEAs with significant numbers of English as an additional language pupils, particularly at primary level' and argued that EAL learners 'should be taken into consideration in designing the post-2011-12 architecture of the pupil premium'
In his speech Stewart Jackson noted that Damian Green and NALDIC both believe in the importance of adequate funding for EAL learners, with Damian Green arguing that the focus of the pupil premium is "too narrow and that multiple pressures caused by the needs of migrants (including deprivation, EAL and mobility factors) ought to be included for the Pupil Premium basis in the future."
In conclusion Stewart Jackson thoughtfully argued that
'Ministers need to think about the impact of the ethnic minority achievement grant, what it achieved, and how rolling it up with the dedicated schools grant could be a retrograde step in making sure that the people who need the most help-governors, teachers, parents and children, and a specific number of schools in a specific number of authorities-continue to receive that fiscal incentive to try to improve results and educational attainment. To give a few examples, a local education authority, such as Peterborough, that is facing such problems could recruit more qualified and experienced bilingual staff; run more English as a second language classes after school; engage with parents to encourage them to speak English and improve their own English to help their children; employ more teachers, as opposed to teaching assistants, with those skills; and develop specific language programmes, such as holiday boosters and catch-up programmes.
I support Westminster city council's advocacy-or at least I support the idea that it should be debated and discussed by Ministers-of a specific fund held in the Department for Education for new arrivals to the UK. It calls it a "cash passport" and makes the case that it is recognised that non-standard admissions and English as an additional language will not be reflected in the existing pupil premium funding'.
In response Nick Gibb confirmed that he 'would consult on developing and introducing a clear, transparent and fairer national funding formula based on the needs of pupils. We are already working to develop options for the future funding of schools, with the aim of consulting in late spring, as my hon. Friend said. The consultation is likely to cover the merits of a national funding formula, transitional arrangements and the factors to be included in such a formula. English as an additional language will certainly be a factor in the review and consultation. We need to consider how best to provide the necessary additional financial support to schools with such pupils, taking into account how the additional need decreases-for example, as a pupil becomes more proficient in English'. Nick Gibb concluded the debate by noting that he would take the issues around EAL raised in the debate into careful consideration.
NALDIC welcomes this recognition that EAL learning is a signficant issue worthy of serious debate, as is the funding which will support our schools to promote effective language learning.