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Do Foreign Children Have a Right to A Classroom Assistant?

By: Rachel Newcombe - Updated: 22 Jan 2021 | comments*Discuss
Foreign Child Children Assistant

Q.Do foreign national children have the right to a classroom assistant in primary 1 if their English is not that great and the teacher is very impatient with them?

(Miss Deborah Foster, 12 September 2008)


Being a foreign national child and speaking poor English can be very hard for children in UK primary schools and they have extra challenges to face. However, just the fact of being a foreign national sadly doesn’t automatically give them the right to have a classroom assistant, although it can certainly help their learning and development if they do have extra support.

For teachers, teaching a class of children is demanding in itself, but it presents extra challenges when one child doesn’t have very good English. This is one reason why it may seem that they’re being impatient with them, but it may not be intentional.

If you’re concerned about your child not having good enough English skills to cope well in the classroom or keep up with what the class is being taught, then in the first instance it’s advisable to speak to the classroom teacher or school head for advice and help. Explain the situation and the difficulties that your child is having, especially if they may not be aware of everything yet (i.e. when the child has only just arrived at the school) and politely ask if any extra help can be provided.

Most schools do have several classroom assistants, or teaching assistants, available and they may work one-on-one with certain pupils or support the classroom as a whole. Hopefully the school in question will already have a classroom assistant who can step in and help. Depending on the language in question and the degree of difficulty your child is having, they should be able to help your child through their difficulties and slowly pick up extra language skills.

In addition to the help they receive at school, as a parent you can help by trying to improve your child’s grasp of English at home. For example, you could try and speak English as much as possible, if English isn’t your native tongue, read English books together and ensure your child is clear about all the essential and basic English words. If you feel they could do with an extra boost of help, you could explore extra-curricular tuition – the school may be able to recommend a suitable tutor.

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