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The Young Interpreters Scheme

The Young Interpreters scheme at Northgate Primary School was nominated by Ethnic Minority & Traveller Achievement Service (EMTAS). The school has run the Young Interpreters scheme for many years. It continues to develop and positively impact on both the Young Interpreters and the whole school community.


Northgate Primary School is a three-form entry school based in one of the 13 residential areas of Crawley. It caters for children aged 4-11. The school also has an on-site nursery for pre-school children. In addition, West Sussex Special Education Service maintains a Sensory Support Centre (SSC) for deaf children at Northgate Primary School.

Embracing diversity and the enrichment opportunities from exposure to multicultural experiences has long been a part of the Northgate Primary School ethos. This ethos reflects the school’s core values of Respect, Curiosity, Resilience and Ambition. The Northgate Primary School team are committed to nurturing pupils to become confident, caring, independent, reflective, respectful and resourceful learners.

Good practice explained

The Young Interpreters Scheme was first introduced in Northgate Primary School in 2013. It was introduced through the West Sussex County Council EMTAS Team. School staff were trained by EMTAS using training developed by Hampshire County Council.

Over the years, the Northgate Young Interpreters have grown to a group of 30 pupils. This makes them the largest group of Young Interpreters in West Sussex. The scheme is embedded across the school and the Young Interpreters proudly take responsibility for celebrations and displays.

Two Young Interpreters are recruited from each Key Stage Two class. They volunteer to help support children arriving at the school who have English as an additional language (EAL).  After a four-week training, each Young Interpreters receives a certificate and badge, along with their pack of support resources.

The Young Interpreters are matched according to the language they speak and they meet once a week during assembly time towards the end of the school day. The resource packs promote ways to interact positively and include reminders of how to respond to individuals and a focus on other ways to talk with gesture and visuals.  Each Young Interpreter proudly wear their lanyards identifying them, to enable staff and pupils to ask for their help if required.

During the weekly get togethers the children play games to break the ice and develop relationships. They are able to feedback to adults any areas they would like help with. The range of languages currently being shared in the Northgate Young Interpreters scheme include:

Marathi, Gujarati, Urdu, French, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Polish, Algerian, Romanian, Lithuanian, Punjabi, Hungarian, Arabic, British Sign, English, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish and Thai.

“My daughter has grown in confidence as a result of Young Interpreters. She is more confident speaking Punjabi and proud of her heritage. I loved her coming come and telling me she has helped other children.”

Mother of Young Interpreter

The teacher who manages the schools Young Interpreters scheme at Northgate believes it is important for the whole group of Young Interpreters to not only meet regularly, but also to celebrate and share their cultures with the whole school. At least once a year the group join together to cook a national dish and once a year the whole school celebrate ‘International Lunch Day’ when the Young Interpreters families send or bring in nation dishes; the Young Interpreters dress in national clothes and often their parent/carers deliver the food in national clothes. 

“The Young Interpreters epitomise Northgate’s diverse and inclusive culture. The whole scheme is embedded without our school ethos and runs like a well-oiled machine. Being so close to Gatwick airport we have quite a mobile school population. The children are welcomed by Young Interpreters and it not only supports the children with their language but also social skills.”

Deputy Headteacher

Northgate’s Young Interpreters also play an important role in welcoming potential new pupils and their families. They show them around the school, aiding with translations when needed.

It is clear that the Northgate Young Interpreters are proud of the role they play in integrating their peers into their school community.

Some of the reasons the Northgate Primary Young Interpreters enjoy being part of the scheme.

Top Tips from Northgate Primary School for other schools

  • Where possible select pupils with varied languages. If possible two languages per class.
  • Create awareness about the scheme by doing at least one assembly per year.
  • Build confidence and self-esteem of YI through training and awarding with a certificate and badge during an assembly.
  • Make it personal and inclusive – create photo IDs and encourage the sharing of cultural information and resources.
  • Schedule meetings with all the Young Interpreters to listen to what is going well and what is not and then work with them to try to take on board their ideas.
  • Host 1 or 2 gatherings each school year. We do Christmas and end of school year in July. It works well to offer a few snacks, music and games. This allows the group to get to know each other and learn from each other.
  • Consider hosting a game traditionally from a different country or an international cooking session.
  • Consider holding an International Day when all of the school are invited to dress in a national dress. This can be in conjunction with Diwali, Chinese New Year, etc.
  • Provide Young Interpreters with resource packs to promote their relationships with the pupils they support/mentor e.g. Conversation prompts, visual supports and sheets of stickers in packs for YI to award to children they work with.
  • Involve Young Interpreters with projects/displays around school.
  • Ensure the Young Interpreters meet weekly, we suggest 20-30 minutes (we do this during assembly). In this time the Young Interpreter pairs up with their matched EAL child who speaks their language.
  • It is important that the key messages for all are about developing good communication and respecting each other.

Links to the West Sussex Inclusion Framework

The inclusive support at Northgate Primary School links to a number of Aspects and Dimensions within the West Sussex Inclusion Framework.

Within Aspect 1: The Environment, Culture and Ethos there are clear links to:

1.1 Inclusive Vision, aims, values, philosophies, and the implications for practice

  • Clear inclusive aims and values are evident in the behaviour of staff and children and young people (CYP).
  • Inclusion is understood as an on-going process of increasing participation, achievement and nurture for all.
  • Aims and values reflect that leaders are ambitions for providing high-quality education to all CYP.


  • All adults actively seek opportunities to really understand what life is like for all CYP and are skilled at adapting communication styles to achieve that.
  • Parents who have English as an Additional Language (EAL) are supported to have meaningful contribution to the life and direction of the school.
  • The views of parents from Black, Asian, Minority and Ethnic (BAME) and disadvantaged communities are pro-actively sought. The school understands that views need to be sought sensitively and thoughtfully.
  • Schools should not assume that all parents have equal confidence and ability to access school via formal routes.

Within Aspect 3: Personal Development, Wellbeing and Welfare of Children, Young People and Staff

3.2 Respecting each other

  • Positive relationships support all members of the school community and shared values are understood by all.
  • All CYP feel individually valued and known.
  • Personal strengths are recognised within day to day school life.
  • The school counters all forms of discrimination.
  • The school curriculum is reflective of CYP needs and provides a universal curriculum for all CYP to develop areas of relationship education.
  • Staff need to be challenged and reflective to teach a diverse curriculum, such as teaching history from different perspectives.
  • To teach a diverse curriculum, staff need to be challenged and reflective.


  • The school has developed an understanding of the culture of its local community and can demonstrate how it uses this knowledge to mee the needs of its CYP and their families. E.g. facilitating cultural events and festivals to celebrate different customs, food, dress, dance, etc. The views of parents from all community groups are sought to improve accessibility and equality of opportunity.
  • The curriculum is a vehicle to promote the CYP’s understanding of cultural diversity. Schools that are predominantly monocultural make an even greater proactive effort to ensure their CYP have a greater understanding of the world, in order that they leave school with balanced, well-informed and non-stereotypical views. CYP are supported to be empathetic, thoughtful and curious about experiences and perspectives that are different to those they are more familiar with.
  • There are opportunities for CYP from diverse backgrounds, contexts and needs to learn from each other and together.

Within Aspect 4: Quality of Education

4.1 Curriculum Design

  • The curriculum is geared towards ambitious outcomes for all and designed to give all CYP, particularly the most disadvantaged, the knowledge and cultural capital they need to succeed in life.
  • The curriculum is designed to enable all CYP to develop a range of skills and abilities to prepare them for their life now and in the future, in their community and beyond. It is also designed with the needs of the CYP at its centre.
  • The curriculum is designed to incorporate a variety of ways that engage all CYP, including those operating at a younger developmental age.


  • Curriculum design is created in response to the needs of the CYP in the school and is fully reflective of the wider community. These needs and characteristics are reflected throughout all aspects of the curriculum. Members of the wider community are regularly asked to contribute to planning that adds to the richness and diversity of the curriculum and counters stereotypes.

4.6 Extra-curricular activities

  • High quality extra-curricular activities are used to enhance learning opportunities for all.


  • Clubs and activities reflect the diversity of CYP in the school including those with additional needs.