Cities, towns and their schools are becoming more ethnically and linguistically diverse as a result of inward migration from distant lands. Especially when this migration involves refugee populations, it becomes an issue for government organisations and particularly schools. This is not because schools suddenly have to change the language they teach in or use translators or interpreters in classrooms, but because they do need to communicate with the parents and care givers of the children they teach. These are the people who may not be able to speak the language of their new home that well. If they are refugees, they may not be able to speak the language at all, yet still want their children to succeed in their new school environment.
Schools, then, just like other government organisations, may need to use professional interpreting services and document translation services when there is a need to communicate with parents and caregivers of this new cohort of students.
If there is a single language that is predominant in the community, like Spanish in many parts of the U.S., it may make sense for the school to have their own translator cum interpreter to handle communication with parents, but in many schools there are so many different immigrant languages that this would be impossible. In this situation, it makes sense to use a professional translation or interpretation service.
Document translation is needed to let parents and caregivers know of important school events like term or semester dates, holidays and vacations, special ceremonies like graduation, concerts and plays and the availability of school trips and camps. Document translation is also important to let parents and caregivers know how their children are performing at school. This is traditionally done by the report card, which may be given to the child to take back home or mailed in the post once or more times per school year. The report card will not be of much use if it is just in the language used in school.
Interpreters at the school are needed most if there has been a problem with the child and parents have been asked to meet with teachers or other school staff to discuss why a particular behaviour is occurring.
This demand for professional interpreting and translation services works both ways. Parents and caregivers will feel much more confident when they know that they can communicate with the school about anything that is concerning them. The inability to communicate between home and school in the modern school environment is a recipe for poor educational outcomes and poor behavioural attitudes.