Welcome class - Turma de Acolhimento
The Welcome class targets pupils whose mother tongue is not Portuguese and who have recently arrived to Portugal to attend the 1st and 2nd cycles of the basic level (6 to 12 years old). Depending on the language proficiency level, Welcome class may take place about 10 hours per week. During that time, students are withdrawn from their original class and go to this special one. This happens until the pupil is ready to master the Portuguese language sufficiently to follow the classes. Pupils are identified by the Class Head Teacher, teachers or the school's Head Office (at the enrolment). The Welcome Class teacher identifies the pupil's needs and develops a strategy; when the pupil reaches the level of proficiency in Portuguese language required to participate in regular classes, (s)he returns to the original class.
The Welcome Class teacher and the original (main) class teacher are responsible for deciding on the way the measure is implemented (strategies, time allocated and the extent of the measure). The Welcome Class teacher, who is fully dedicated to the Welcome Class, delivers it in cooperation with the original class teacher.
The overall responsibility for implementation of this measure lies with the School Head Office.
The main obstacle is the lack of teachers available in order to allow the pupils to stay more time per week in the Welcome Class, especially when they arrive with no or very reduced knowledge of Portuguese language. For some time, it would be advisable to have them in the Welcome Class for more hours per week, however that is not always possible because of the lack of teachers and the requirement of maximum 10/12 pupils per class (at the same time).
The implementation of the measure is monitored and assessed by the School’s Quality Observatory (the structure responsible for the monitoring and internal evaluation of the school) and the school Head Office.
Results have been excellent. The learning of the Portuguese language is accelerated which allows the quicker return to the original classes and some pupils have even succeeded to accomplish the learning outcomes in their first year in Portugal/at school.
Regarding necessary resources and funding, there is need of a specific room with suitable materials to promote the learning of the language and a full time teacher allocated for this measure. The measure is funded by the Ministry of Education and Science through the TEIP - Priority Intervention Educational Areas - Programme.
The measure is still running, being part of the TEIP Improvement Plan of the School cluster.