The Alpha Teaching School Hub has experienced an increase of EAL students in schools within areas it serves. 10.6% EAL Students are in Colchester; with 130 languages spoken with Romanian and Eastern European languages being the most common after English (2021 school census Essex County Council).
Similarities are drawn in Ipswich, whereby 114 languages are spoken and the percentage of EAL students in schools are at 33% (School Census 2021. data supplied by Suffolk County Council). The number of pupils in England with English as an additional language has seen a dramatic increase over the years from 499,000 in 1997 to 1,171,101 in 2015 an increase of 135%. (Demie 2015:5; DfE 2015).
The Alpha Teaching School Hub has experienced an increase of EAL students in schools
within areas it serves. 10.6% EAL Students are in Colchester; with 130 languages spoken
with Romanian and Eastern European languages being the most common after
English.(2021 school census Essex County Council). Similarities are drawn in Ipswich,
whereby 114 languages are spoken and the percentage of EAL students in schools are at
33% (School Census 2021. data supplied by Suffolk County Council). The number of pupils in England with English as an additional language has seen a dramatic increase over the years from 499,000 in 1997 to 1,171,101 in 2015 an increase of 135%. (Demie 2015:5; DfE 2015).
This has called for a review into evidence-informed practices; from how students are being admitted; support in their first days of schooling, particularly in mid phase admissions; through to how we train leaders in schools responsible for EAL to quality first teaching and integration strategies for pupils and families. Soofia Amin at Tapscott Learning Trust is an EAL specialist collaborating with The Alpha Teaching School Hub; with 21 years of experience in teaching English as a second language and has also led for 9 years at an East London primary school, creating a successful whole school approach to EAL. Her training and support to schools is based on pedagogy from Cummins 2019, 'Bics and Calp' and research carried out by various EAL organisations including, NALDIC and Bell Foundation.
Throughout this collaborative project, a sample of EAL students will be tracked on their
journey and will be a gauge as to how this whole school CPD impacts on the integration of inclusive practice; placing importance of measuring the impact of the pupils’ progress from adaptive teaching strategies.
A focus group, which consisted of Headteachers and EAL leads of 11 schools within the
Alpha Teaching School Hub area, discussed current status and progress with EAL pupils.
These discussions established the starting points across schools on current processes of
integrating students; whole school EAL approach; how adaptive teaching is currently
developing language. In particular, many students who have not had previous schooling, or limited and no English Language. Monitoring, assessment and involvement of parents in their own learning were at the centre of discussions as being pivotal in connecting the impact of strategies used within schools for EAL pupils’.
The first training day focussed on how pupils are admitted and supported at the start of
admissions and approaches to mid phase admissions. Beginning with the ‘end in mind’
(S.Covey 2004) ethos is applied to the training with the key question “what should an EAL
pupil leave school with?”. Leaders in the focus group stated confidence, emotional language and communication as imperative in supporting pupils in their future.
The challenges of achieving this depends on the pupil’s background; if the school has the right support in place and procedures to deal with ‘when things go wrong’. Pupils with EAL have initial barriers of no prior schooling; literacy; limited understanding of English or in many cases no understanding. This leads to isolation in an unfamiliar culture and lack of friends and support. The same issues can be applied to the parents of the pupil. In some cases, there may be undiagnosed needs.
Many of the schools in the hub area participating in the project had 37-40% transient and movement issues. Many felt they were facing recent contemporary issues in relation to EAL students, and the mid-year and admissions phase needed reviewing. Some schools were already using flash academy. The training established for schools what background knowledge is required to determine support for the pupil; how the knowledge can be acquired and who in the school needed to know the information. “Internal systems of information dissemination of available background information relating to the new EAL arrivals appeared to play an important role within the school.” Arnot & Scheinder et al. (2014 p. 32)
Leaders in the focus group then gave considerations to the information that needed to be gathered from families before a student is admitted to the school. Information on previous education; medical issues; extent of trauma; reason for arrival and what support network the family and pupil has. Further regard was also given to the environment and strategies to identify emerging needs of the pupil and in meeting with the family. Findings in a small research carried out in Lambeth indicated that detailed background information upon entry ensured effective pupil tracking and monitoring to review impact of provision for EAL pupils. (Dermie 2017 p.12) A question emerged as to whether for those pupils who are high functioning and can speak English on arrival the assumption is that parents are at the same level. Therefore, communication is reliant on the pupil between school and home.
Frederickson and Cline (1991, 2015) suggest a comprehensive framework of information
gathering when assessing whether an EAL student is experiencing curriculum difficulties due to cognitive deficiency or to a need for linguistic and socio-cultural adjustment.
Once these questions have been explored approaches and structures for the individual pupil can be ascertained. A study by Anglia Ruskin University and Cambridge University (Arnot & Scheinder et al. (2014 p.86) suggested that “ a major barrier to successful communication between the school and EAL students and their parents was the lack of staff knowledge of students’ and families’ background.
Actions from the schools involved in the project, ranged from reviewing admissions forms and interview questions for new arrivals. Find and create appropriate admissions
assessments for learning. Once such method trialled by Arnot & Scheinder et al. (2014 p
37). is the Renfrew Vocabulary Test. The pupils, like their non-EAL peers, are given
‘Individual Learning Plans’ (ILP) with targets and work set to meet the targets which are
reviewed and re-set as the learning progresses. Results of one of the studies carried out in this paper showed that “EAL achievement in the primary school was similar to non-EAL students if students had arrived in the early years”. One of the schools on the EAL project had also carried out a similar piece of research in secondary comparing CAT Scores of Non EAL students and EAL students. Of which the CAT score mean had a insignificant difference of -0.77, this was reflected in the progress checks carried out for year 8 and the working at grades.
Therefore, whole school planning actions then were addressed for mid-year arrivals, current interventions and inclusive learning in the classroom. Following this school planning included precise interventions such as 30 minutes at appropriate levels in phonics; further research into Cummins Bics (Basic interpersonal and communication skills); Calps (Cognitive academic language proficiency) and the Bell Foundation resources for EAL Assessment Framework for Schools; reviewing timetables; use of book looks to monitor progress; review key structures for beginners including grammar; feedback loops to class teachers and SENCO’s. Impact measures were decided through data tracking, classroom observations, teacher and pupil feedback.
Cummins 1999 and the research carried out by Demie 2017, suggests that there is a real
importance in linking EAL provision to ensuring a diverse curriculum. The successful
schools in progress with EAL pupils “included strong leadership on equality and diversity, an understanding of pedagogy that best supported pupils with EAL, targeted support towards their progress, an inclusive curriculum (Demie 2017).
Early interventions have highlighted the needs of individuals, rather than a ‘one size fits all’ approach. This case study needs to be used as emerging research, as the project and the DFE designation of Teaching School Hubs are in their infancy. Additionally, some of the research references are also based on smaller studies within schools.
Research has also shown that diverse schools have an enhanced ability to think creatively and use higher order thinking skills. High quality teaching ensures that strategies start from an EAL pupils’ perspective and pervade the school holistically. The outcomes of this project highlighted the need for all teachers to take lead roles in their classrooms and use strategies that are evidenced informed including collaborative learning, and a focus on talk and vocabulary. Re-telling, remodelling and describing examples were used within the training.
Examples of curriculum development could include promotion of pupils first language in the classroom. Displays in classrooms with visual prompts and sequences of learning can support all pupils as well as thematic approaches and simulations can engage and support.
Creating environments that allow EAL pupils to develop and rehearse their English in a non-threatening way. Bilingual and multilingual students usually have stronger working memories and attention spans (Adescope, Lavin & Thompson 2010). As a result, EAL students could have positive impact in classrooms.
By Samantha Torr. Alpha Teaching School Hub
1. Anglia Ruskin University & The University of Cambridge Faulty of Education.
Scheinder, Arnot, Evans, Lui, Welpley, Davis-Tutt. (April 2014). School Approaches
to the education of EAL Students.
2. Lambeth Local Authority. Dr F Dermie (February 2017). Raising Achievement of
English as Additional Language Pupils in Schools: Good Practice.
3. S.Covey (2004) The 7 habits of highly effective people. Simon & Schuster UK.
4. Frederickson, N. and Cline, T. (1991) Bilingual Pupils and the National Curriculum:
Overcoming Difficulties in Teaching and Learning. London: University College.
6. E.Parsons (17th September 2018) https://www.headteacher-update.com/best-
7. (Feb 17 2019)https://ealmadeeasy.com/practical-case-study-series-1-sen-or-eal/
8. The Bell Foundation (2021) https://ealresources.bell-foundation.org.uk/
9. EAL Assessment Framework for Schools: https://www.bell-foundation.org.uk/eal-
10. Adescope, Lavin & Thompson 2010.