The arrival of people from other lands into the north of Ireland has enriched the diversity of our population, our cultural perspectives and has significantly changed the range of languages spoken here.

What is a 'newcomer' pupil?

During recent years, schools in the north of Ireland have been experiencing a steady growth in their enrolment of children from various parts of the world who are therefore used to different languages and cultures. It is important that all children feel welcome in our schools and are supported as they get used to their new surroundings and to learning a new language.

The term 'newcomer' is used to refer a pupil who does not have satisfactory language skills to participate fully in the school curriculum and does not have a language in common with the teacher.

Why is it important to have children classed as 'newcomers'?

This enables schools to support children and parents better.  The school may be entitled to more funding and also they can get help from the Inclusion and Diversity Service (IDS).  IDS are set up specifically to help schools, parents and pupils work together to support the needs of a newcomer pupil.

How do schools decide if a child is a newcomer?

Schools must ensure that the pupils meet certain criteria.  If they do, schools may record them as a newcomer on their annual school census.  Schools are responsible each year for checking if a pupil still meets the newcomer criteria.  Each year the child's progress will be improving as they learn a new language and fully integrate into the education system and the term newcomer may no longer be appropriate.

Criteria for Designating a Pupil as a Newcomer and Sharing Good Practice (used by schools)

Designation of a child as a newcomer pupil attracts additional funding through the Common Funding Scheme. A form has been developed for completion and retention by schools.

It will also act as a history of the child, as a newcomer, should they move between schools and therefore must be transferred with the child and any appropriate records to the new school.

Following the issue of the Mandatory Newcomer Designation Pro-Forma there have been a number of queries regarding the completion of this form. As many of the questions have been of a similar nature a 'Frequently Asked Questions' list has been compiled below which may be of some help to schools in the first instance.

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