A pioneering Hampshire project aimed at helping children whose first language is not English settle at school, promoting inclusion and overcoming prejudice has been shortlisted for a prestigious national award.
Hampshire Young Interpreters, a scheme developed by Hampshire County Council's Ethnic Minority and Traveller Achievement Service (EMTAS), in partnership with schools, has been shortlisted for the 2013 Guardian Public Services Awards under the Grassroots Excellence category.
Relying on peer mentoring, using pupils who have been specially trained to support newly arrived pupils whose first language is not English, the scheme helps them to settle in and encourages them to share their culture and traditions with their new classmates.
Councillor Peter Edgar, Executive Member for Education, commented: "This is fantastic news. This is an immensely worthwhile scheme that enables young people to develop empathy and compassion for their peers from other cultures while giving practical support to children coming into the community whose first language is not English. The peer supporter's capacity to learn is expanded and those children they are supporting are able to get the most from their education at the earliest opportunity as well as make friends more easily so that they are not left feeling isolated."
Hampshire Young Interpreters has grown from strength to strength, beginning as an initial pilot project six years ago working with four schools, developing into a project that now has a global reach. It operates in more than 30 schools in Hampshire and has been adopted by schools in 21 other local authorities as well as being used at the International Community School in Amman, Jordan. The project has also attracted interest from as far afield as New Zealand and the United States.
The Grassroots Excellence category highlights the achievements of teams who in the judges' eyes have worked most successfully with their user community. The scheme is one of only three projects, selected from entries by councils across the country, to go through to the final judging stage which will take place in London on 12 November.