PARENTS have protested outside the civic offices at plans to cut funding for language classes for children.
The demonstration took place in Guildhall Square after Portsmouth City Council closed the classes which are for children of immigrants who want to learn their mother tongue but can’t do so at school.
The council says the classes, which are run by volunteer teachers, had to be closed as part of its budget cuts. Around £38,000 has been saved by the cuts, but the Community Language Trust says it should be protected.
Syed Amimul Haque, a parent and a trustee, said: ‘I’m not angry but I am really disappointed that the local authority are taking this attitude. Suddenly they have decided not to fund this anymore.
‘Our next generation of children will have no way of learning except for their ordinary language at home.’
Maha Ingarfill is a trustee and an Arabic teacher. She said: ‘This is an opportunity for a child to learn. It will help them get better qualifications. They will get better jobs, especially in a city like Portsmouth.’
Julian Wooster, strategic director for children services said: ‘These community language classes were funded from an extended schools grant that we no longer receive.
‘We can see that the community languages pupils generally do well in our schools, it is children with special educational needs where generally more support is required to help them achieve.’
Councillor Rob Wood, cabinet member for education and children said: ‘Difficult decisions have had to be made about where to spend our limited resources.
‘Our priority is to support our most vulnerable residents as well as minimising the impact on children’s centres, which are a resource valued by the whole community.
‘I have met with the community language trust and offered to help negotiate more favourable rents to keep their costs to a minimum.’