PRIMARY school parents have been rewarded for their commitment and achievement to learning after helping integrate themselves into the local community.
Award winners from Corporation Road Community Primary School, Darlington, were presented with certificates from headteacher Ann Pringleton for their participation in the school’s community English class.
The classes, run by Darlington College, help non-English speaking parents develop their language skills to support their children in school and integrate themselves into the wider community.
English levels range from pre-entry to entry 2, no English to elementary level, with the focus on developing speaking, listening, reading and writing skills.
The course has been designed as a stepping stone into further education for learners who lack the confidence to attend weekly classes at Darlington College.
Mrs Pringleton, who approached Darlington College for help, said: “Within our school 62 per cent of children do not have English as their first language and that figure rises to 70 per cent within our early years.
“I could see there was a massive need to involve families, especially those who had very basic or no English speaking skills at all, in both our school and wider community settings.
“The classes have not only helped parents broaden their English with their children at home, but have also helped them with access to shopping, banking, making doctors’ appointments, even days out to the cinema.”
Parents are assisted in their learning by teaching assistant Nahid Khan, who is fluent in English, Urdu, Hindi and Bengali.
“Our parents have really embraced the learning even though, for some of them, it is the first time they have ever been in an education system,” said Nahid.
Darlington College ESOL lecturer Stephanie Montague runs the weekly community classes which parents can join and leave at any time.
“It is a lovely class to teach and everyone is so welcoming and supportive of each other,” she said.
“It is a multilingual class, but the lack of one common language and varying language levels does not present as a problem, as the learners are developing some very creative ways of communicating with each other.
“Three of our parents Nasima Begum, Ruhana Begum and Momotaj Akthev have already completed their first exams and we hope that as other parents become more confident with their English they will also progress to attend ESOL classes in college.”
Grandmother Nasima Begum, 55, of Darlington, who has five grandchildren at the school and has just sat her entry 1 award added: “I have lived in Darlington for 35 years but only ever spoke a tiny bit of English.
“This is the first time I have been given the chance to learn properly and I’m very happy.”