LANGUAGE classes for children across Southampton could be saved after a last-ditch deal.

The city council had axed its £60,000 annual grant for the Community Language Service, which teaches minority languages to 750 city youngsters.

That put the future of the 50-year-old service in doubt, but now council chiefs and teachers may have secured its future following crunch talks.

As reported by the Daily Echo, the council has said it will withdraw its £60,000 annual grant to the service due to “financial pressures”.

The money pays for classroom rental and tutors to teach languages to around 800 children from minority ethnic communities to help them learn their heritage languages, including Polish, Chinese, Urdu and Somali, up to A-Level standard.

It also funds CRB checks for teachers and insurance.

Both children taking the lessons and their parents have talked to the Echo about how important the service is to them.

Shirley-based mum-of-two Aleksandra Dass, whose six-year-old daughter Emilia attends Polish classes, added: “It’s an incredibly valuable and important service that gives children a chance to learn their mother tongue and meet other Polish children.

“What’s most important for me is that my daughter has the chance not just to speak but read and write and become fully bilingual. Some people lose out on their language and heritage when they become adults and this service would be a big loss. Emilia really enjoys the mix of learning and play and she would miss it.”

Janusz Swierczynski, 14, known as Johnny, has been attending lessons for four years and is studying for a GCSE in Polish.

Johnny, of Sholing, said: “It helps me with my everyday English school because lessons are similar and things you learn can work in both. I have a lot of friends here that I don’t see at regular school and it is good fun so it would be a big shame if we lost it.”

Daily Echo:

Now following a crunch meeting between Labour council leader Simon Letts and heads of the various courses, a deal may have been struck to save the course.

It will see the council and the schools which host the classes take responsibility for room hire, CRB checks and insurance, while the tutors must fund the rest.

Cllr Letts said: “I have said to the tutors that the council and the schools can take responsibility for certain elements of what is on offer, and we expect them to take responsibility for other elements by ensuring they have a sensible charging policy.

“We are hoping to work together to save the service, which makes an important cohesive contribution to the city.”

The funding was due to run out in July, and the new arrangement could start in September.