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Information and public services for the Island of Jersey

L'înformâtion et les sèrvices publyis pouor I'Île dé Jèrri

Launch and celebration of Jersey’s first Language Policy

03 May 2022

The first Language Policy for all Government schools and colleges will be launched this week (Thursday 5 May) as part of the major reform of Jersey's education system.  

The new Language Policy has been published under the Education Reform Programme, which highlighted support for learners with English as an additional language (EAL) as an area for improvement.

The Education Reform Programme was established following an independent funding review in 2019, which led to millions of additional funding approved for the education system in the Government Plan. A total of £500,000 was allocated to improve support for multilingual learners (MLL), those children and young people who have English as an additional language.

The launch of the Language Policy takes place at The Radisson Hotel on Thursday, 5 May with a celebration of different languages, including Jèrriais, Portuguese, Polish, Irish, Russian and Ukrainian.

There are currently 62 different languages spoken in schools across the Island. Recent figures show that there are a total of 3,062 multilingual learners from nursery to Year 13, which represents 26% of the overall school population.

More than 100 students are due to perform at the event, including Jèrriais song and dance, our Polish and Portuguese schools, and Irish dance. Students from the Russian and Ukraine communities living in Jersey will recite poems, with a Year 5 student singing the Ukrainian national anthem.

Children and Education Minister, Deputy Scott Wickenden, said: "The first Language Policy marks a very exciting and significant point in the start of our Education Reform Programme. The policy has been created to help schools and teachers understand and support language learning in all schools. Speaking different languages and recognising cultural heritages will not only improve the well-being of our multilingual learners, but it also means that all pupils benefit from an increased awareness of diversity."

Deputy Inna Gardiner, who liaises with and supports communities that have English as an additional language, said: "I welcome this celebration of languages in Jersey. We need to create a system that recognises first languages and gives students a choice of alternative languages to study at school. The Language Policy for Education is where we will create this pathway and having a policy and celebration that recognises, reinforces and celebrates the cultural diversity of our Island is good for everyone and all cultures."

Seán O'Regan, Director of Education, added: "Languages form an integral part of life. For people living in Jersey, languages contribute to our diverse and vibrant society and so should be properly acknowledged and celebrated. The promotion and development of language is essential to identity and inclusion, so it's the aim of our new Jersey languages policy to provide a consistent framework to create optimal conditions for students to achieve and reach their full potential."

The three most spoken languages of multi-lingual pupils in Jersey are Portuguese, Polish and Romanian.

Maggie Eldridge-Mrotzek, Senior Adviser to the project, said: "I am very pleased that Jersey is at a pivotal point in moving towards equity for all pupils in the changing of the former EAL- English as an additional language service - based on support for new arrivals for a maximum of two years to one that is based on assessing English proficiency using the BELL assessment framework. The newly named Multilingual Advisory Service will enable all multilingual pupils to be assessed in language proficiency to provide the support necessary that all can thrive."

Sam Losh, the new language's adviser for Jersey, added: "Languages in all their forms should be celebrated and used, not hidden away, forbidden and forgotten. This new language policy brings us one step closer to a more inclusive society where everyone feels they belong."

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