At Kings Heath Primary School we are proud to host a large number of children who come from diverse families, including children who have EAL. The term EAL is used to describe a diverse group of pupils for whom English is an additional language. The government’s definition of an EAL learner includes anyone who has been exposed to a language other than English during early childhood “and continues to be exposed to this language in the home or the community”. Many EAL learners are UK-born.
At KHPA we use NASSEA to help us provide additional support for EAL children. Established in 1989, NASSEA is a well-respected sector leader. They have offered support and guidance on EAL and equality in education through teaching and learning for more than 25 years. We use the NASSEA English as an Additional Language (EAL) Assessment Framework which has been made to support practitioners and their pupils.
Admissions and Induction
Children learn best when they feel secure and valued, so the first challenge is to make new arrivals feel welcome and help staff to make appropriate plans to include them. We ensure that our EAL families are offered a tour, time to meet the child's new teacher and also be introduced, where possible, to children or staff who speak the same language.
We will offer support with an interpreter if needed, but often our families feel more comfortable bringing their own translator or using a parent already known to the school.
We provide a visual guide for all parents, but this is also available in a variation of languages. Parents are also given access to electronic communication, which can be translated.
The first days and weeks
At Kings Heath Primary Academy we organise a range of features for our EAL children in their first few days and weeks at our school. We have “buddies” for the new arrival and brief them carefully. It is advisable to share the buddy role between two or three pupils; to allow the child to gain a range of experiences. It is helpful if the buddy can speak the new arrival’s first language, but it is more important that they are empathetic and have the necessary emotional intelligence. At KHPA we use of our EAL Champions to help us with this.
Although the Department for Education (DfE) withdrew the requirement for schools to report on the English language proficiency of their EAL learners, KHPA has realised that it is important that we continue to assess learners with EAL in order to achieve the best outcomes.
Every EAL child is assessed on their proficiency in English, using the NASSEA English as an Additional Language (EAL) Assessment Framework. It has been made to support practitioners and their pupils. Within it, children are given a step they are working on and clear next stages for their English development. Within this framework the children are categorised into two areas:
NTE - New To English: This is where the child is still in the process of learning English and has an impact on their learning.
FNTE - Formally New to English: This is where the child's English is at a high competency level.
KHPA understanding that supporting an EAL learner to acquire English and access the curriculum is vital. Learning should not wait for a pupil to acquire English and where appropriate, the child is provided some support from a same language adult / class buddy at times. The use of online translation tools may also be used.
In the short term, "new to English" new arrivals can also benefit from short, regular and frequent sessions outside the classroom for learning English basics, including daily social greetings/exchanges, making/responding to requests, school and classroom vocabulary and phrases, and language for expressing lack of understanding. These are offered based on need.
EAL is not a subject, like history, maths or Latin. EAL learners have a double job to do: learn English and learn through English at the same time. The following are some potential teaching and learning strategies we may draw on from on-going differentiation in the classroom:
- Visual support - multilingual instruction matts, fans, word banks, writing frames
- EAL dictionary
- Giving simple instructions
- Pre-teaching key words and phrases
- Communicating with home - keeping parents informed of topics to research and discuss in their home language