EALead Project Full Report

EALead Project Full Report
REPORT
APRIL 2014
School approaches to the
education of EAL students
Language development, social integration and achievement
Report Authors
Madeleine Arnot, Claudia Schneider, Michael Evans,
Yongcan Liu, Oakleigh Welply and Deb Davies-Tutt
With the assistance of Karen Forbes and Diana Sutton
Funded by
SCHOOL APPROACHES TO THE EDUCATION OF EAL STUDENTS: LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT, SOCIAL INTEGRATION AND ACHIEVEMENT
Acknowledgements
The Bell Foundation started in 2012 and is working to overcome exclusion through language
education in the UK. The Foundation is focusing on two thematic areas: children with English
as an additional language and offenders whose first language is not English. The Bell
Foundation has developed a five-year programme working with partners aiming to improve
the educational outcomes for children with English as an additional language.
The research team based in the Faculty of Education at Cambridge University and in the
Faculty of Health, Social Care and Education at Anglia Ruskin University would like to thank
The Bell Foundation for the opportunity to research this important area of school provision,
for the financial support it gave the project and the continuous help offered by Diana Sutton
(Director) and Helen Elmerstig of The Bell Foundation.
The research team would like to thank, in particular, the students, parents, teachers,
headteachers of the two schools we were researching, and the EAL experts and Local
Authority EAL coordinators who gave their time and commitment to the project. We greatly
value the insights they gave us into the challenges associated with language diversity, their
professional knowledge and strategies they use to support the educational achievement,
language development and social integration of all children, irrespective of origin.
Finally we wish to thank Karen Forbes for the assistance she gave in writing a review of the
academic literature for this report. Thanks are also due to our own two institutions for the
administrative support they offered: David Carter, Philip Vale, Jo Vine and Sarah Walters. The
views expressed in this report are those of the research team alone and do not necessarily
reflect the policies of The Bell Foundation as the funder of the project.
Copyright
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other use of this publication) without the written permission of the copyright owner. Applications for the
copywright owner’s written permission to reproduce any part of this publication should be addressed to
the publisher.
Copyright © University of Cambridge, Anglia Ruskin University and
The Bell Educational Trust Limited (operating as The Bell Foundation)
The Bell Educational Trust Limited is a charitable company limited by guarantee number 1048465
established on 5 April 1972 and also a charity registered with the Charity Commission number 311585
Published by The Bell Educational Trust Limited (operating as The Bell Foundation)
ISBN 978-0-9928894-0-1
The Bell Foundation
Red Cross Lane
Cambridge
CB2 0QU
www.bell-foundation.org.uk
2
REPORT
APRIL 2014
School approaches to the
education of EAL students
Language development, social integration and achievement
Report Authors
Anglia Ruskin University:
Dr Claudia Schneider, Research Co-Director, Principal Lecturer in Social Policy,
Deb Davies-Tutt, Research Assistant
Faculty of Education, The University of Cambridge:
Professor Madeleine Arnot, Research Co-Director,
Dr. Michael Evans, Reader in Second Language Education,
Dr. Yongcan Liu, University Lecturer in Second Language Education,
Dr. Oakleigh Welply, University Lecturer in Sociology of Education
with the assistance of Karen Forbes and Diana Sutton
Funded by
3
SCHOOL APPROACHES TO THE EDUCATION OF EAL STUDENTS: LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT, SOCIAL INTEGRATION AND ACHIEVEMENT
Glossary
A8Eight Accession countries which joined the EU in 2004: Czech Republic,
Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia
APP Assessing Pupils’ Progress
BICS
Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills
CALP Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency
DFE Department for Education
EAL
English as Additional Language
ELL English Language Learners
ILP Individual Learning Plans
LA
Local Authority
NALDIC National Association for Language Development in the Curriculum
Ofsted Office for Standards in Education
4
PEE Points, Evidence and Explain
PISA
The Programme for International Student Assessment
TA Teaching Assistants
Foreword
In the UK today, there are over 1 million children with English as an additional
language who speak in excess of 360 languages between them, in addition
to English. These children may belong to well established ethnic minority
communities, or be children of refugees and asylum seekers, or children of
migrants whose parents have come to the UK to work, they may live in large
cities or in more isolated rural areas. Some of these children may be “invisible”,
outside formal education, or not yet allocated school places and so will not appear
in school statistics at all. Some children may have been well-educated in their
country of origin, while others may have had little, or disrupted schooling. What
evidence that is available suggests that these children do not achieve to their full
potential.
This report presents the interim findings of a three year study, commissioned
from Cambridge University and Anglia Ruskin University and funded by The
Bell Foundation. It develops the link between language development, social
integration and educational achievement. As the project continues into its final
two years, it will research the progress of EAL learners through secondary school,
the role of the assessment of these learners and their academic progress, and
the involvement of parents in EAL students’ schooling. The Bell Foundation
commissioned this report in the context of rapidly changing financial support for
EAL learners and teachers, at a time when the numbers of EAL learners are on a
steady upward trend and when major changes are happening to education in the
UK. It looks at an under researched group of EAL learners – the Eastern European
child in the English school system.
One of the most striking findings of the report is that it revealed as much about
what the school system does not know as what schools do know and provide for.
All children have clear rights under the Convention on the Rights of the Child to
an education which develops their potential and enables them to achieve. This
report is an important start to informing much needed work by academics, teacher
training institutes and practitioners to address the rights and needs of a growing
group of children for whom English is not their mother tongue.
Diana Sutton
Director - The Bell Foundation
5
SCHOOL APPROACHES TO THE EDUCATION OF EAL STUDENTS: LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT, SOCIAL INTEGRATION AND ACHIEVEMENT
CONTENTS LIST
1. INTRODUCTION .............................................................................. 9
2. NATIONAL AND LOCAL PATTERNS OF EAL PROVISION .............. 11
2.1Definitions
2.2 The national context
2.3 Current UK government policy regarding EAL provision
2.4 EU models of integration of newly arrived migrant students
2.5 Linguistic diversity and educational attainment
2.6Summary
3. THE EAST OF ENGLAND PROJECT:
CONCEPTUAL AND RESEARCH FRAMEWORKS........................... 18
3.1 EAL students in East of England state-funded schools
3.2 Local authority support for EAL provision
3.3 Research aims
3.4 Language development, social disadvantage and educational achievement:
a conceptual framework
3.5 The research design
3.6 Researching EAL provision in primary and secondary schools
3.7 Summary
4. SCHOOL ACCESS TO KNOWLEDGE ABOUT THE HOME
AND EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUNDS OF EAL STUDENTS............ 31
4.1 Knowledge about the EAL students’ parental backgrounds
4.2 Knowledge of prior schooling and performance
4.3 Sources of knowledge about new EAL students
4.4 Dissemination of information within the schools
4.5 Initial assessment of EAL students shortly after admission
4.6 Summary
5. LANGUAGE ATTITUDES AND PEDAGOGY .................................... 40
5.1 Language use and language policy
5.2 Attitudes towards languages
5.3 Classroom strategies for EAL students
5.4 Summary
6
6. EAL STUDENTS’ EDUCATIONAL ACHIEVEMENT.......................... 52
6.1 Achievement data for Brenton Primary School
6.2 Staff perceptions of EAL primary school students’ educational achievement
6.3 Support for EAL students at the primary school
6.4 Achievement data for Windscott Academy
6.5 Staff perceptions of EAL secondary school students’ educational achievement
6.6 Support for EAL students at the secondary school
6.7 Summary
7. SOCIAL INTEGRATION ................................................................. 62
7.1 Social Integration in Brenton Primary School
7.2 Social integration in Windscott Academy
7.3 Summary
8. COMMUNICATION STRUCTURES AND PROCESSES.................... 75
8.1 Formal and informal communication structures regarding EAL
8.2 EAL pupils ⇔ senior management
8.3 EAL pupils ⇔ teachers
8.4 EAL pupils ⇔ non-EAL pupils
8.5 Senior management team ⇔ EAL students’ parents
8.6 Teachers ⇔ EAL students’ parents
8.7 Communication between the school and the local community
8.8 Summary
9. LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT, SOCIAL integration AND
EDUCATIONAL ACHIEVEMENT..................................................... 87
9.1 Language development
9.2 Social integration in relation to language development
9.3 Educational achievement
9.4 Knowledge, assessment and communication
7
SCHOOL APPROACHES TO THE EDUCATION OF EAL STUDENTS: LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT, SOCIAL INTEGRATION AND ACHIEVEMENT
10. RECOMMENDATIONS for improving school practice.... 102
10.1 Developing research on EAL students’ school education
10.2 Promoting English language development (L2) at primary
and secondary Level
10.3 Encouraging social integration at primary and secondary level
10.4 Improving educational achievement of EAL students at primary and
secondary level
10.5 Improving knowledge, assessment and communication
10.6 A holistic school approach to EAL support
10.7 Conclusions
REFERENCES................................................................................. 114
APPENDICES.................................................................................. 122
1. EAL enrolment at Brenton Primary School
2. EAL enrolment at Windscott Academy
LIST OF TABLES AND FIGURES
Figure 1: Conceptual framework.............................................................................22
Figure 2: A holistic school approach.....................................................................111
Table 1: Maintained primary and secondary schools:
number and percentage of pupils by first language (1997-2013). .........13
Table 2: Percentage of pupils whose first language is known
or believed to be other than English, January 2013................................20
Table 3: Brenton Primary School (3-11) (2013).....................................................25
Table 4: Windscott Academy profile (2013)............................................................26
Table 5: Achievement at KS2 Level (2012/13)........................................................53
Table 6: Achievements at GCSE Level (2012/13)...................................................56
Table 7: Activities and strategies which support
the EAL communication process.............................................................77
8
SECTION 1:
INTRODUCTION
9
SCHOOL APPROACHES TO THE EDUCATION OF EAL STUDENTS: LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT, SOCIAL INTEGRATION AND ACHIEVEMENT
This report describes a 12-month research project conducted by a research team
jointly led by members of the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge and the
Faculty of Health, Social Care and Education at Anglia Ruskin, Cambridge.
The project was commissioned by The Bell Foundation as part of their new
programme on Children with English as an additional language (EAL). The report
is the first publication of a three-year research programme. In this first stage, the
aims were:
(a)to identify the contribution that primary and secondary schools
make to addressing the language development, social integration
and academic achievement of EAL students.
(b) to understand school practice regarding the social integration,
language development and educational achievement of EAL
students in primary and secondary schools from the perspective
of school management, teachers, children and parents and thus,
highlighting the potential of such practice to address the diversity
of school populations in a constructive way.
The project aimed to extend the understanding of the pedagogic and social issues
relating to language development, social integration and educational achievement
of EAL students. It explored how schools conceptualised and addressed the
linguistic, academic and social needs of such youth.
The research design involved a review of relevant research and the findings
of two case study schools which were contextualised in the wider context of
empirical research conducted into EAL support and provision in primary and
secondary schools in the East of England. The case studies took place in a state
funded primary school within an urban setting and a state funded comprehensive
secondary school in a semi-rural area. The research was, therefore, set in a
geographical context with far less experience of linguistic and cultural diversity
than cosmopolitan inner-city areas such as London, Birmingham or Manchester.
Our case studies focused mainly on EAL pupils from the new Eastern European
countries which joined the EU in 2004 and here especially pupils from Latvia,
Lithuania and Poland (although other national groups are also mentioned).
Interviews were conducted with local authority and school-based EAL specialists,
headteachers, school governors, teachers, parents and children.
10
SECTION 2:
NATIONAL AND LOCAL PATTERNS OF
EAL PROVISION
11
SCHOOL APPROACHES TO THE EDUCATION OF EAL STUDENTS: LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT, SOCIAL INTEGRATION AND ACHIEVEMENT
2.1 Definitions
This section describes the national and local context1 which frames the experience
of school-aged learners who are officially identified as children whose first language
is other than English, known as English as an additional language (EAL) children.
It aims to provide an insight into some of the research in this area which has
been conducted in Anglophone countries throughout the world2. For the sake of
consistency, the term ‘EAL’ is used throughout this literature review to refer to all
pupils whose first language is not English, but who are living and attending school in
England. Other terms are used in different parts of the world, such as the equivalent
term of English Language Learner (ELL) in the US, along with English as a Second
Language (ESL) or English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)3.
One of the challenges in conducting research and public policy work on the
educational attainment of children with English as an additional language is the
limitation of the categorisation “EAL” in the UK context. In official documentation
and for the purpose of the collection of statistical data on schools in England, the
category of EAL student is characterised as a “pupil whose first language is known
or believed to be other than English”. The Department for Education (DfE) defines
‘first language’ as “the language to which a child was initially exposed during early
development and continues to be exposed to this language in the home or in the
community” (DfE, 2013b, p.7).
In addition to ambiguities arising from the choice of label, categorisation issues arise
from the fact that children with English as an additional language in the UK fall into a
number of different groups and will have very different needs. These groups include,
children belonging to well established ethnic minority communities in the UK,
children of refugees and asylum seekers, and children of migrants whose parents
have come to the UK to work. This research looks principally at the latter group.
It is also likely that some children with English as an additional language will be
“invisible” and will not appear in school statistics. These may include children, those
who are outside formal education, those in immigration detention, those who have
not yet been allocated school places by local authorities, others whose parents may
migrate to different regions of the UK or globally, and children who are trafficked into
the UK.
1.
We would like to thank Diana Sutton at the
Bell Foundation for allowing us to quote
from her research on the national picture
in relation to EAL.
2.
The focus is restricted to the Anglophone
world as opposed to other bilingual
contexts as this mirrors the focus of our
own study in the English context.
3.
These terms are largely interchangeable
and refer to the teaching and learning of
English to immigrants, refugees, asylum
seekers and others whose first language
is other than English. These terms are to
be distinguished from English as a foreign
language (EFL) which refers to the context
of learning and using English as a foreign
language in countries with a different
dominant language. The usefulness of the
term EAL over ESL is that often English
will be a third or fourth language for
these speakers. Similarly the term avoids
suggestions of a hierarchy of competence
in the different languages a speaker has
access to.
12
The needs of children from refugee communities will differ from the needs of
children of labour migrants and from those who arrive as unaccompanied asylum
seekers. Some children may have been well-educated in their country of origin, while
others may have had little, or disrupted, schooling. Some children who come from
war-torn countries need psychological help. At school level, all these factors bring
with them specific costs and a need for a particular expertise amongst school and
local authority staff.
There are additional challenges for schools when pupils arrive into the latter stages
of secondary school, especially when they arrive with little or no English, as this
stage of education is examination-orientated and a high level of English proficiency
is required. This may result in pupils pursuing a course of study not suited to their
academic ability. For example, in a report for the British Refugee Council (2011),
Sarah Walker noted:
Evidence from SMILE has shown that in some instances, local
authorities are choosing to send young people, and particularly
those in Years 10 and 11, to alternative educational provision, outside
mainstream schooling. The reasoning for such decisions were generally
because of the young person’s limited English language skills or lack
of knowledge of the UK educational system, or in some cases due to no
prior education’ (p.42).
SECTION 2: NATIONAL AND LOCAL PATTERNS OF EAL PROVISION
2.2 The national context
In official documentation and for the purposes of collecting statistical data on
schools in England, the category of EAL student is characterised as a ‘pupil whose
first language is known or believed to be other than English’. The Department
for Education (DfE) defines ‘first language’ as ‘the language to which a child was
initially exposed during early development and continues to be exposed to this
language in the home or in the community’ (DfE, 2013b, p.7).
In 2013, there were over 1 million school-age students between 5 and 16 years
old in English schools whose first language was known or believed to be other
than English, out of a total student population of 8.2 million (DfE, 2013b4). 18.1 %
of primary school students and 13.6 % of secondary school students in England
speak a language other than English as a first language. In 2012, the figures were
17.5 % and 12.9 % respectively in primary and secondary schools. The table below
shows that the number of children with English as an additional language in
England has doubled since 1997.
Table 1: MAINTAINED PRIMARY AND SECONDARY SCHOOLS:
NUMBER AND PERCENTAGE OF PUPILS BY FIRST LANGUAGE
Year
PRIMARY
SECONDARY
TOTAL
Number of
primary pupils
whose first
language is
other than
English
Percentage
of primary
pupils whose
first language
is other than
English
Number of
secondary
pupils whose
first language
is other than
English
Percentage
of secondary
pupils whose
first language
is other than
English
Total number
of pupils whose
first language
is other than
English
1997
276,200
7.8
222,800
7.3
499,000
1998
303,635
8.5
238,532
7.8
542,167
1999
301,800
8.4
244,684
7.8
546,484
2000
311,512
8.7
255,256
8.0
566,768
2001
331,512
9.3
258,893
8.0
590,405
2002
350,483
10.0
282,235
8.6
632,718
2003
362,690
10.4
291,110
8.8
653,800
2004
376,600
11.0
292,890
8.8
669,490
2005
395,270
11.6
299,200
9.0
694,470
2006
419,600
12.5
314,950
9.5
734,550
2007
447,650
13.5
342,140
10.5
789,790
2008
470,080
14.4
354,300
10.8
824,380
2009
491,340
15.2
362,600
11.1
853,940
2010
518,020
16.0
378,210
11.6
896,230
2011
547,030
16.8
399,550
12.3
946,580
2012
577,555
17.5
417,765
12.9
995,320
2013
612,160
18.1
436,150
13.6
1,048,310
Source: http://www.naldic.org.uk/research-and-information/eal-statistics
These figures, however, should not be taken to reflect a uniform lack of proficiency
in English. The guidance on language coding provided by the DfE to schools for
completion of census data states that where a child is ‘exposed to more than one
language (which may include English) during early development the language
other than English should be recorded irrespective of the child’s proficiency
in English’ (DfE, 2013a, p.30). Similarly, the census figures do not distinguish
between foreign born children whose first language is not English and second
generation children born in the UK who are either bilingual or whose first
language is not English (see also Strand & Demie, 2006 and 2007).
4. The National Association for Language
Development in the Curriculum (Naldic)
reports that in 2014, there are an
estimated 1,048,310 children in English
primary and secondary schools, and if
special schools and referral units are
included, the figure rises to 1,061,010.
Currently there are also 26,131 bilingual
learners in this age group in Scotland, 8674
‘newcomer’ pupils in Northern Ireland
and 30,756 EAL learners in Wales. These
children speak in excess of 360 languages
in addition to English. See http://www.
naldic.org.uk/research-and-information/
eal-statistics
13
SCHOOL APPROACHES TO THE EDUCATION OF EAL STUDENTS: LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT, SOCIAL INTEGRATION AND ACHIEVEMENT
2.3 Current UK government policy regarding
EAL provision
In its Brief summary of government policy for EAL learners (DfE 2012a) the current
UK government stipulates that local authorities have a legal duty to ensure that
education is available for all children of compulsory school age… irrespective of a
child’s immigration status, country of origin or rights of residence in a particular
area’ (ibid., p.1). It also states that ‘the Government’s policy for children learning
English as an additional language is to promote rapid language acquisition and
to include them within mainstream education as soon as possible’, and that class
teachers ‘have responsibility for ensuring that pupils can participate in lessons’
(ibid., p.1 ). Bill Bolloten (2012) recently highlighted the failing of schools with
regard to the implementation of their equalities duties. The policy states that
schools have a statutory duty to promote community cohesion while, however, also
stating that the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) will no longer be required
to comment on schools’ contribution to community cohesion in their school
inspection reports; while acknowledging that ‘bilingualism confers intellectual
advantages’, the policy nevertheless states that the ‘main responsibility for
maintaining mother tongue rests with the ethnic minority community themselves’
(ibid., p. 5).
The 2009 PISA (The Programme for International Student Assessment) results
suggest that, as with most European countries, the share of low achieving 15
year olds in reading, mathematics and science is higher for foreign born students
than for the total student population. For the UK, the scores in reading were 25 %
(foreign born) compared with 18 % of the share for the total population. The results
for mathematics were 29 % of the share of low achievement (foreign born) and 20
% (total). For science the share was 21 % (foreign born) and 15 % (total) (European
Commission, 2011, p. 142 – 149). The recently published 2012 PISA reported that
“the performance disadvantage of immigrant students as compared to students
without an immigrant background but with similar socio-economic status shrink by
11 score points [between 2003 and 2012]” (OECD, 2013, p.12).
The most significant change to resourcing support for EAL learners specifically
is the loss of ring-fencing for the Ethnic Minority Achievement Grant (EMAG). The
EMAG was a ring-fenced grant which allowed local authorities to retain a central
Ethnic Minority Achievement service using centrally-employed teachers. It was
set up in 1999 to narrow achievement gaps for pupils from those minority ethnic
groups who are at risk of underachieving and to help meet the particular needs of
bilingual pupils. It replaced Home Office ‘Section 11’ funding and was distributed to
local authorities on a formula basis relating to the number of EAL learners and the
number of pupils from ‘underachieving’ minority ethnic groups in local authorities,
combined with a free school meals indicator.
In 2011, the Ethnic Minority Achievement Grant was mainstreamed into the Direct
Schools Grant (DSG) and schools were allowed complete freedom over its use
however Local Authorities may retain a portion of the funding to continue running
centralised Ethnic Minority Achievement services for schools.
14
SECTION 2: NATIONAL AND LOCAL PATTERNS OF EAL PROVISION
In their guidance to schools NALDIC5 points out that:
From April 2013, an ‘EAL’ factor can be included in local funding
formulae for schools but this factor is limited to bilingual pupils who
have been enrolled in English schools for a maximum of three years.
Local schools associations can decide:
•
whether to include an EAL factor in their formula;
•whether this factor will ‘count’ bilingual pupils who have been
enrolled in a school in England for one, two or three years;
•the cash value of this factor for primary aged pupils and for
secondary aged pupils.
2.4 E
U models of integration of newly arrived migrant
students
If we look further afield than the UK we can see that interest in integration is a
key feature of policy-making. In a report on educational support for newly arrived
migrant children, the European Commission identified four types of support
policies that facilitate the integration of newly arrived migrant students in their
education systems: linguistic support; academic support; outreach and co-operation;
and intercultural education (European Commission, 2013, p.10). Linguistic support
was seen to consist of assessment of linguistic competence, host language
support within or after class, the training of teachers instructing the host language
as a second language, and valuing and provision of mother tongue instruction.
Academic support was identified as appropriate reception and initial academic
assessment, appropriate class placement, effective tracking and diagnosis of
progress, recruitment of suitably qualified teachers for working in a multilingual
school environment, and prevention of early school leaving. Parental and
community involvement was seen to consist of parental participation in the school
process through home school tutoring and partnerships, and, provision of detailed
information about the school systems.
The European Commission report identifies five types of educational support
models, exemplified in different European countries (ibid., pp.7 –8). The
comprehensive support model, seen in Denmark and Sweden, provides well
developed systems that facilitate the four types of support policies referred
to above. The non-systematic support model, seen in Italy, Cyprus and Greece,
consists of random provision with no clearly articulated national policy. The
compensatory support model, exemplified in Belgium and Austria, tends to adopt
the aim of correcting ‘the “differences” between immigrant and native students,
rather than tackling the initial disadvantage’ (p. 8). The integration model, in
evidence in Ireland, prioritises social integration through liaison with parents and
communities, withdrawing teaching of the host language as a second language
after the introductory years and provides no mother tongue teaching. Finally,
the centralised entry support model, seen in France and Luxembourg, provides
centralised reception of migrant children and provision of academic support ‘as
the main driver of educational inclusion’ (p. 8). While the Commission report does
not indicate which model best represents the policy adopted in England, one can
argue that the English system has typically been associated with the ‘integration
model’.
5. NALDIC http://www.naldic.org.uk/
research-and-information/eal-statistics
15
SCHOOL APPROACHES TO THE EDUCATION OF EAL STUDENTS: LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT, SOCIAL INTEGRATION AND ACHIEVEMENT
Although the existing data
documents the numbers
of children with English
as an additional language,
there are a number of
limitations both with the
categorisation itself and
with its relationship to
educational attainment
data.
2.5 Linguistic diversity and educational attainment
Although the existing data documents the numbers of children with English
as an additional language, there are a number of limitations both with the
categorisation itself and with its relationship to educational attainment data. A
detailed discussion of this is outside the scope of this report but shortcomings
have been noted by a number of commentators. In research published by the Arvon
Foundation, Hollingworth and Mansaray (2012) note:
‘Given the growing “super-diversity” of England and the rest of the UK,
crude ethnic categories (of Black, White, Asian) in published DfE data
mask a great deal of ethnic, national, linguistic, religious and social
diversity which may be getting in the way of how we ‘make sense’ of
minority communities’ relative achievement, and how we understand
who is at a disadvantage. If we are to get any closer to understanding
the role of language / bilingualism and multilingualism in children’s
relative attainment we need better data and more fine grained analysis’
(2012, p. 4).
Hollingworth and Mansaray go on to conclude:
What is clear from this research is that there is a real dearth of
information on which specific linguistic groups are attaining less well
at school, and where they are located in the country. Indeed, this data
is generally not systematically collected, and where it is collected,
attainment is often not analysed by linguistic group, only ethnicity (ibid.,
p.22).
Similarly Demie (2013b, p. 9) in Language Diversity and Attainment in Schools notes:
We would argue that inequality in access in education will not end
without detailed disaggregated ethnic and language data and a carefully
designed targeted national programme. Detailed disaggregated data by
language and ethnic background provides evidence that can be used to
design interventions that tackle the root cause of underachievement of
different groups in schools. The recommendations from our findings are
that if any country is serious about tackling pupil underachievement in
schools, they need to recognise first the importance of cultural, ethnic
and linguistic diversity. In addition they must collect disaggregated
ethnic data and language spoken at home to benefit all groups
attending schools. Such data is fundamental in identifying which
ethnic and linguistic groups are most at risk of underachievement
and to design specific interventions that will be effective in raising
achievement, whatever their background6.
The broad approach adopted in the UK government policy towards EAL students’
achievement and EAL provision generally is that ‘there is no single “silver bullet”
intervention’ that can be provided on a national scale but that schools are freed up
‘to develop local solutions to local issues’ (Overington, 2012). The ‘freedom’ which
schools are currently given will only succeed if schools are able to deploy their
budgets and to plan the use of human and other external resources for supporting
6.
With grateful thanks to the author for
permission to quote from his report.
16
SECTION 2: NATIONAL AND LOCAL PATTERNS OF EAL PROVISION
their EAL children wisely and effectively. As stated earlier, in terms of funding,
the Ethnic Minority Achievement Grant (EMAG) which was set up in 1999 ‘to help
narrow the achievement gaps for Black and minority ethnic pupils and cover some
of the costs of additional support for bilingual learners’ (DfE 2012a, p. 17 ) was
mainstreamed into the Dedicated Schools Grant from April 2011, ‘giving schools
greater freedom over how the grant is spent’ (ibid., p. 1). In its report on funding
arrangements for 2013-2014, the DfE announced that additional support will be
provided for EAL learners for the first three years of their entry to schooling in
England:
Pupils with English as an additional language (EAL) often require
additional support. We have considered the evidence on how much
support is needed and,[…] have decided that 3 years from the point
at which a pupil enters compulsory education in England should be
sufficient. With early intervention, pupils with EAL can achieve well,
even earlier (DfE, 2012b, p. 8).
One of the local authority EAL coordinators interviewed in our project expressed
concern that the new context of funded support for schools can result in
disparities in the quality of the provision:
I do know anecdotally that some schools are using teachers of other
subjects, but who happen to be from one of the countries that you know
– so Polish teachers of different subjects teach English to groups of
fairly new arrivals, which is like the worst possible practice. But that’s
anecdotal and so some have not brought us in; arguably some of the
ones that really should, but we can’t make them. Other schools where
the heads are engaged with us and have particular priorities have said,
“You tell me what I need and how much it’ll cost and we’ll do it” [...] it’s
really quite concerning that some of those pupils will lose out.
2.6 Summary
In recent years there has been a steady rise in the school population of children
whose language is reported to be other than English. It is not clear, however,
what proportion of these children are also proficient in English as the school
census data on which the statistics are based do not distinguish between ‘first
language other than English’ and ‘non-speakers of English’. In the Eastern region
of England, the profile of the school population has also been changing; section 3
covers this in more detail.
With the restructuring of educational provision in England leading to diminution of
the role of local authorities and the growth of academies, there is a greater degree
of autonomy for schools in the planning of the support they must provide for their
EAL students. This autonomy will entail inevitably diversity of provision depending
on the experience and commitment of staff at different institutions.
7.
Quoted in http://www.naldic.org.uk/ealadvocacy/eal-news-summary/240212a
17
SCHOOL APPROACHES TO THE EDUCATION OF EAL STUDENTS: LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT, SOCIAL INTEGRATION AND ACHIEVEMENT
SECTION 3:
THE EAST OF ENGLAND PROJECT:
CONCEPTUAL AND RESEARCH FRAMEWORKS
18
SECTION 3: THE EAST OF ENGLAND PROJECT: CONCEPTUAL AND RESEARCH FRAMEWORKS
The East of England is an interesting region to conduct research on EAL learners
because of the relative high numbers of migrants coming to the region and, in
particular, migrants from countries which have most recently joined the European
Union (the so-called A88 countries). Another characteristic of the area relates
to the clusters of poverty and disadvantage within some of its rural areas where
migrants have moved to and have been actively recruited to by employers. This
rural context is relatively under-researched with the result that the link between
migration and rural poverty and rural schools is not generally recognised.
Below we outline in more detail the demography of the region and the migration
characteristics.
The East of England is the second largest region in England and includes the
counties of Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk and
Suffolk. There are 5.8 million people currently live in the East of England. It is
characterised by a ‘diverse urban and rural make-up with many scattered urban,
town and fringe areas, and a predominantly rural area in northern Norfolk’ (see
Office for National Statistics, 2012, p.1).
Parts of the region are relatively wealthy although several areas are marked by
deprivation in the North and East of the region (English Indices of Deprivation,
2010). Overall, with £16,400 per head in 2010, it has the third highest Gross
Disposable Household Income (GDHI) of English regions and counties of the
UK. The employment rate at 74.9% is above the UK average (70.5%. The number
of residents over 65 years old at 17.5% is slightly above the average in England
(16.5%) (Office for National Statistics, 2011).
The East of England has been one of the key destinations for European citizens
from the eight Accession countries, i.e. the A8 countries which joined the
European Union on the 1st of May 2004 (Vargas-Silva, 2013). From 2004 to 2011,
European citizens from the new Accession countries had to apply with the Worker
Registration Scheme (WRS) before they could be employed. Applicants in the
East of England moved, in particular, into the agriculture, building, care, food and
hospitality sectors to fill labour shortages and support expansion in these sectors
(Schneider & Holman, 2005; 2011).
In 2013, the East of England had 42,090 National Insurance Numbers (NINO)
registrations from adult overseas nationals entering the UK. This represented the
third highest number of registrations after London (225, 820) and the South East
(63, 360); it was closely followed by the North West (37, 510), the West Midlands
(37, 310) and Scotland (37, 170). The highest number of NINOs in the UK in 2012/13
were given to nationals from Poland (91, 360; 15 %), followed by nationals from
Spain (45, 530; 50%) and Italy (32, 800; 35% ). NINO registrations from Lithuania
and Latvia have fallen since 2011/12 (by 18% and 27% respectively) (Department
for Work and Pensions, 2013).
In 2011, about 11 % of the residents of the East of England (642,215) were born
outside of the UK; of which 41.6 % held a UK passport and 54.7 per cent had a
non-UK passport only. The majority of non-UK born residents were born in Poland
(62,100 residents) followed by residents born in India, Ireland, United States and
Pakistan (see Krausova & Vargas-Silva, 2013).
The majority of A8 migrants who arrived in the East of England since 2004 can be
described as relatively young, skilled and with high aspirations (see Schneider and
Holman, 2011). Since 2004 several reports have highlighted the underemployment
of A8 migrants who arrive with high or very high skills levels but are employed
in low skilled employment positions in the UK (see Dustmann et al. 2010; Huber,
Landesman, Robinson & Stehrer, 2010; Schneider & Holman, 2011).
8.
A8 countries: Czech Republic, Estonia,
Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland,
Slovakia and Slovenia.
19
SCHOOL APPROACHES TO THE EDUCATION OF EAL STUDENTS: LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT, SOCIAL INTEGRATION AND ACHIEVEMENT
Following the enlargement of the EU in 2004, the majority of European citizens
arriving from the A8 countries were single and arrived with few dependants
(Schneider & Holman, 2009; Spencer et al. 2007). Migrants who had children often
left their children in countries of origin with members of the (extended) family. By
2010 children of migrants who had been ‘left behind’ increasingly joined family
members. Those who had migrated after 2004 in their early to mid-20s also
increasingly formed relationships/ families and had children in the UK. In general,
migrants with children wanted to stay longer term in the UK to offer children a
settled upbringing (see Schneider & Holman, 2011).
3.1 EAL students in East of England state-funded
schools
In 2013, in the East of England as a whole there were 44,870 primary school and
33,515 secondary school students whose first language was known or believed to
be other than English. This represents 12.2 % and 8.9 % respectively of the total
population of primary and secondary school students in the region.
The distribution of students in this category varies in different counties in the
region. The following table, which is based on the school census data for January
2013 (DfE, 2013b), shows the percentage of pupils in this category in selected
counties in the region.
Table 2: P
ercentage of pupils whose first language is known or believed
to be other than English January 2013 (in percentages) 9
Eastern Region
Bedford (Bedf.)
Central Bedfordshire
Cambridgeshire
Essex
Percentage of total
Primary school
pupil population
Percentage of total
Secondary school
pupil population
25.4
20.5
4.5
2.8
10.6
7.6
5.7
4.1
Hertfordshire
13.5
9.8
Luton (Bedf.)
50.9
44.1
6.5
4.9
Norfolk
Peterborough (Camb.)
35.7
26.4
Southend-on-Sea (Essex)
12.3
11.4
6.7
4.6
14.5
9.9
Suffolk
Thurrock (Essex)
Source: https://www.gov.uk/Local_authority_and_regional_tables_-_SFR_21)
3.2 Local authority support for EAL provision
9.
These data reflect the percentage of the
number of pupils of compulsory school
age and above. Towns listed in the table
have not been included in the overall
percentages of the different regions.
20
Local authority support for EAL provision in schools has also been affected by the
expansion of academies, the consequent reduction of local authority funding and
the resulting loss of EAL specialist teams and the support they offered. Academy
status entails greater autonomy for the school over governance and the school
curriculum and control of the school budget. Nationally, three quarters of all
academies are ‘converter’ academies; that is, schools judged ‘outstanding’ or
‘good’ by Ofsted that have chosen to become academies. ‘Sponsored academies’
are schools which were deemed to be failing and then re-opened as academies
under new leadership and with external sponsorship. There are currently 3,304
SECTION 3: THE EAST OF ENGLAND PROJECT: CONCEPTUAL AND RESEARCH FRAMEWORKS
academies open in England, the majority of which are secondary schools.
Primary academies represent only 5% of all primary schools in England. Before
2011, local authorities typically provided support to schools through the work of
their ethnic minority achievement services. These services consisted of a raft
of subsidised support services such as EAL advice, bilingual support for new
arrivals, first language assessment for pupils whose progress is causing concern,
staff professional development focusing on, for instance, raising ethnic minority
achievement, working with Eastern European pupils, and developing a culturally
inclusive curriculum. As a result of the structural and funding policy changes,
as of April 2013 these services are either free only to state maintained primary
schools and are chargeable to primary and secondary academies or in some local
authority areas not available at all
Before the changes, a range of services were available to schools including
EAL advice and guidance, bilingual support for new arrivals, First Language
Assessment for pupils whose progress is causing concern (FLA) and staff
development regarding:
•Whole school strategies for narrowing the gap and raising ethnic
minority achievement
•Working with Eastern European pupils
•
Developing a culturally inclusive curriculum
•
English as an additional language (EAL)
•Preventing and tackling racism, homophobia and prejudicerelated bullying (including using Stonewall resources)
•
Working effectively with Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities
3.3 Research aims
This report describes the research aims of the first stage of a three year
research programme. In this first stage, the initial specific aims were to extend
the understanding of the pedagogic and social issues relating to language
development, social integration and educational achievement of EAL students.
This focused on:
a)identifying the contribution that primary and secondary schools
make to addressing the language development, social integration
and academic achievement of EAL students; and,
b)understanding school practice regarding the social integration,
language development and educational achievement of EAL
students in primary and secondary schools from the perspective
of school management, teachers, children and parents and
thus, highlighting the potential of such practice to address the
diversity of school populations in a constructive way.
21
SCHOOL APPROACHES TO THE EDUCATION OF EAL STUDENTS: LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT, SOCIAL INTEGRATION AND ACHIEVEMENT
3.4 Language development, social disadvantage and
educational achievement: a conceptual framework
Given this aim and these two elements, the team constructed a conceptual
framework for this project that focused on the interrelationships between three
aspects of A8 children’s educational experiences. The intention was to discover
how primary and secondary schools relate the provision of English language
education to the perceived educational and social needs of newly arrived migrant
children, particularly but not only those disadvantaged socially and economically
in the local community. A key element of the research design was the need to
understand how social/cultural integration was built into the working life of the
school - its procedures, teaching styles, classroom processes, homework, as well
as the social-cultural ethos of the school and the integration of such students into
pupil cultures and friendships.
The relationship between language education and overcoming social disadvantage
within the school impacts on the levels of educational achievement of such
children in primary and secondary schools, although it was unclear how such
achievement from the initial assessment on arrival at the school, to the levels of
student progress during their school career and their eventual performance in
national tests or examinations is monitored, if at all. In that sense the first phase of
the project is exploratory - seeking to define and describe the relationship between
these three elements as perceived by school management, parental governors,
EAL specialists working outside and within schools, classroom teachers and if
possible the EAL and non-EAL students themselves and and their parents. The
project design was based on the following conceptual framework:
Figure 1: Conceptual Framework
EDUCATIONAL
ACHIEVEMENT
EAL
STUDENTS
LANGUAGE
DEVELOPMENT
SOCIAL
INTEGRATION
The above triangle is particularly useful when designing the interview schedules
which explored from a variety of different angles the interconnections between
educational achievement, language development and social integration. These
three elements were defined in the following way:
22
SECTION 3: THE EAST OF ENGLAND PROJECT: CONCEPTUAL AND RESEARCH FRAMEWORKS
Educational Achievement refers to the child’s academic progress through their
school career. This is measured by classroom participation, achievements in
curriculum tests, exams and project work. At the primary level, schools have the
evidence collected by national assessments at the ages 5,7,1110. At secondary
level the national assessments are conducted at 14 and GCSE results are available
for 16 year olds, A –levels at 18. At secondary level national assessments in
England currently take the form of GCSE examinations. These are usually taken
at the age of 16 but increasingly students are entered at an earlier age in some
subjects.
Language Development: Our emphasis focuses on the development of the
students’ mastery of English per se and as a mediating tool for the learning of
subject matter. Schools use a diversity of tools and approaches to measuring
and recording progress in the students’ acquisition of English. For some time the
official advice has been to use the QCA ‘step descriptors’ (2000) for monitoring
early stages of EAL students’ language progression. Our framework also includes
consideration of the role of the students’ home language(s) as part of the process
of language development.
Social Integration is defined as the academic and social participation in all school
activities whether in the classroom, playground or sports fields, in assemblies,
school events such as plays and outings etc. Levels of participation affect the
child’s sense of belonging and identity with the school community, their ability to
make friends and work with their peers, but also their ability to work within the
cultures, ethos and discipline of the school. The definition of social integration is
a debated one. The UN department of economic and social affairs11 defines social
integration as ‘a dynamic and principled process where all members participate
in dialogue to achieve and maintain peaceful social relations.’ It emphasises
collaboration and cohesion. As such, it starts in opposition to a forced or coerced
integration. Social integration can be defined against exclusion, marginalisation,
fragmentation, and polarisation.
In relation to schooling, social integration can be defined as full participation
within school life, and builds on a sense of belonging and cohesion within school,
around common values and positive and inclusive relationships with peers. In
short, social integration can be viewed as forming social relationships within the
school and being attached to the school (Langenkamp, 2009).
The interview schedules looked at the following six themes to explore the
dimension of social integration, educational achievement and language
development:
• K
nowledge about EAL children, their families and countries of
origin
•Classroom practice; actions and strategies relating to EAL teaching,
educational achievement and social integration
•Teachers’ beliefs about role of students’ first language (so-called
L1) in teaching
• Social integration
• Communication structures regarding EAL
• Opportunities and barriers regarding EAL
The project focused, in particular on EAL pupils from the A8 countries and
especially Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.
10. National assessments at the end of
primary school (Year 6) as well as formative
assessment at Key Stage 1 (phonics
screening test in Year 1, age 5/6 tasks and
tests during Year 2, age 6/7) and Key Stage
2 (national curriculum tests, NCTs).
11.http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/sib/
peacedialogue/soc_integration.htm
23
SCHOOL APPROACHES TO THE EDUCATION OF EAL STUDENTS: LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT, SOCIAL INTEGRATION AND ACHIEVEMENT
3.5 The research design
The project gained an understanding of the national and local context for
EAL provision through reference to relevant policy documents, conducting a
review of academic literature and by interviewing three EAL coordinators. This
background research indicated that there was insufficient investigation of how
schools responded to the presence of particular groups of newly arrived (i.e.
within the last five years) non-English speaking migrants. There was a lack of
information about how within the current performance-driven culture, primary
and secondary schools related English language education to the need to increase
educational achievement and to address social disadvantage; and at the same time
encouraging an integrative culture which supports all children in their academic
and social development. While Ofsted is no longer required specifically to report
on schools’ contributions to community cohesion, the new inspection framework
includes a stronger focus on teaching and learning and a continuing focus on
provision for pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development. This will
enable inspectors to identify inappropriate practice, including the promotion of
messages that undermine community cohesion (DfE, 2012a).
The 12 month project conducted case studies of two schools with a relatively
high proportion of migrant children from the new EU Accession countries. The
primary school and secondary school selected were willing for the research team
to spend time in the schools exploring how teachers within the school and EAL
and non EAL students experienced their policy of language education and social
integration. Overall, interviews (whether individual or group) were conducted with
40 individuals. These included twelve EAL children, seven non-EAL children, eight
teachers, and seven members of the senior management team and specialist staff
(headteachers, deputy heads, EAL coordinators, and EAL lead teachers), three
parent governors and parents as well as three local authority EAL advisors. All
participants and the two schools have been anonymised. The primary school is
referred to as Brenton Primary School and the secondary school is referred to as
Windscott Academy.12 The two schools had already made a considerable effort to
address these issues but were keen to learn more about what could be achieved
to improve their practice in relation to non-English speaking migrant children. The
profiles of the two schools were not identical - each school had a mix of ethnic
minority students into which were added European migrant children. In the case
of the secondary school Windscott - the European migrant children were likely to
be the children of agricultural labourers whilst those in the urban primary school
were a combination of middle and working class migrant families. These two
schools fit within the considerable demographic diversity of schools in the UK and
were not selected as representative in terms of the characteristics of their student
roll. What they had in common was a desire to learn more about what was required
to achieve the integration and academic advancement of non-English speaking
pupils.
Brenton State-Funded Primary School is a larger than average nondenominational primary community school located in a socially disadvantaged
area in a medium size town in the East of England. The area ranked amongst
the most socially deprived of the town with many of the students facing severe
disadvantages. According to the Ofsted report on the school, the pupils are
recruited locally mainly from social housing but some families owned their own
homes.
The area had changed from being essentially white working-class to a more
diverse composition, with the main minority ethnic group consisting of members
of the Bangladeshi, Eastern European and Traveller communities. The majority of
12. The names of all interviewees have been
anonymised.
24
SECTION 3: THE EAST OF ENGLAND PROJECT: CONCEPTUAL AND RESEARCH FRAMEWORKS
pupils were White British and the second largest group being from the Traveller
community (a fifth of the school).
The school was established relatively recently; it has 27 teachers and 37 teaching
assistants. It has a nursery and welcomes children from age 3 to 11. The school is
now located in a brand new building (with many multi-lingual displays and signs)
and also accommodates a children’s centre which facilitates community links.
The governing body runs a term-time breakfast and after-school club. From a
researcher’s perspective as a visitor to the school, the overall impression of the
school is that it is welcoming, convivial and friendly to all children irrespective of
national/cultural origin. This is supported by a comment made by the headteacher:
[…] we aim to be a fully inclusive school for all our children to be
safe, happy, achieving their potential, and also to offer a curriculum
that embraces the diversity of this community and the world as well
because the children need to learn about the world around them and
we’re very much of the view that the diversity you can offer within the
curriculum is really important to help the curriculum with [….] the next
stage of their education as well as when they become adults and, [..] go
to work hopefully in what can continue to be a very diverse society.
The percentage of pupils for whom English is not the first language (over 20%) is
higher than the national average in 2012 (17.5 %). The percentage of pupils eligible
for free school meals (over 30%) is much higher than the national average in 2012
(19.3%); the number of pupils with statements for educational needs is also higher
than average. A far higher proportion of pupils than is usual (over 15%), join or
leave the school during the school year.
[…] we aim to be a fully
inclusive school for all our
children to be safe, happy,
achieving their potential, and
also to offer a curriculum
that embraces the diversity
of this community and the
world as well because the
children need to learn about
the world around them and
we’re very much of the view
that the diversity you can
offer within the curriculum
is really important to help
the curriculum with [….] the
next stage of their education
as well as when they become
adults and, [..] go to work
hopefully in what can
continue to be a very diverse
society.
(Mary Carrs, Head Teacher,
Brenton Primary School)
The school received a ‘Good’ overall rating in the 2010 Ofsted report for the school
with outstanding elements, particularly its commitment to equal opportunities.
When advertising itself, the aim has been to promote the view that every child
is an individual, and integration amongst pupils is a valued element of this. The
school aims to support all children according to their needs and different learning
styles through extra language support or extension work. It is keen to highlight
the importance of partnerships with carers and parents reflected in the fact that
it organises parent workshops in subjects such as numeracy and literacy and
encourages informal communication with teachers at pickup time. The school
advertises its commitment to encouraging a love of learning, to raising motivation
and independence and resilience amongst its pupils wherever they come from.
Table 3: Brenton Primary School (3-11) (2013)
Pupils on roll
below 500
EAL pupils
School: over 20%
LA average: 9%
Free School Meals
School: over 30%
LA average: 11.6%13
SEN and school action plus
School: over 10%
LA average: 17%
NCT results
School: slightly above LA
Percentage achieving Level 4 or above in
both English and mathematics average
LA average: 79%
In terms of language development, the school website has a specific section for
those ‘new to English’ offering links to other opportunities to learn English and
other foreign languages. The school also runs a young interpreters scheme to help
13. All data for this table were derived from a
relevant local authority document.
25
SCHOOL APPROACHES TO THE EDUCATION OF EAL STUDENTS: LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT, SOCIAL INTEGRATION AND ACHIEVEMENT
with supporting EAL children; the volunteers are trained and given a certificate for
their work. The aim therefore is to involve non-EAL speakers in helping those who
cannot easily speak English. The emphasis is upon helping new arrivals feel that
their potential will be captured, that they will feel safe, valued, and comfortable at
the school.
The school had an EAL team, which comprised the equalities and community
cohesion coordinator, and an EAL specialist teaching assistant. The latter role was
a recent development which had started nine months previously at the beginning
of the school year. It was thus still being developed at the time of research. Prior
to that, EAL provision was driven by the equalities and community cohesion
coordinator and the headteacher. However, the view of the staff involved was
that the creation of an EAL specialist teaching assistant role had allowed a more
systematic approach to the inclusion and support of EAL pupils in school, both
through a systematic ‘new arrivals’ procedure in which the headteacher gathered
information about the students’ linguistic background and previous school
experience and through a support programme by the EAL specialist teaching
assistant. The latter involved working with children in small groups, and focused
particularly on literacy and reading.
Windscott, a state-funded Academy is located in a semi-rural environment and
attracts students from the local farming community as well as from villages and
local towns.
Table 4: Windscott Academy Profile (2013)
Pupils on roll
below 1000
EAL pupils
School: over 20%
LA average (for state-funded secondary schools)14: 7.2%
Free School Meals (FSM)
School: over 20%
LA average (for state-funded secondary schools): 9.5 %
SEN and school action plus15
School: over 20%
LA average (for state-funded secondary schools): 20.6%
GCSE results for 2013
School: over 55% achieved A-C grades
LA average: not available
The catchment area is characterised by a high level of social disadvantage. The
local town is geographically isolated. In 2011, 80% of students lived in wards in
which fewer than one in ten adults had experience of higher education - about
half of the national average. The proportion of students who speak English as
an additional language exceeds the national average as do the proportions of
students who are known to be eligible for free school meals (Ofsted, 2011). This is a
multicultural area which has a high percentage of Eastern European families
The Academy aims to improve the life chances of the youth in the community
putting students at the heart of the school, to encourage local families to choose
the school not least because it hopes to remove barriers to learning, as well as
creating a friendly and socially inclusive community that celebrates its diversity,
and unites members of the school in their goal of improving their students life
chances.
14. All data were derived from a relevant local
authority document.
15. School Action Plus refers to ‘extra help
from an external specialist, e.g. a speech
therapist’ (https://www.gov.uk/childrenwith-special-educational-needs/types-ofsupport).
26
Windscott Academy has undergone some major restructuring; in particular, in the
EAL and SEN departments which have both been incorporated in the inclusion
area. The EAL team consists of an EAL Lead Teacher who is also a full-time class
teacher. The person in charge of pastoral care is also dealing with EAL issues. In
addition, the school provides two translators who offer support to the teaching
staff, students and parents.
SECTION 3: THE EAST OF ENGLAND PROJECT: CONCEPTUAL AND RESEARCH FRAMEWORKS
3.6 R
esearching EAL provision in primary and
secondary schools
The processes involved in researching the experiences of newly arrived non-English
speaking migrant children in schools are complex and affect the quality of the
data which can be gained through school based research. There are considerable
sensitivities involved not just those relating to the potential stigmatisation of
migrant children but also the risk factors associated with a school’s reputation
for good practice. The current climate around immigration makes it difficult to
separate out the educational issue of teaching English to non-English speaking
students, and the political context in which such pedagogic challenges might be
seen as diverting attention from the needs of other disadvantaged pupils. Teachers
are aware of these sensitivities and consequently the nature of the data collected by
the research team has been affected by their caution.
By definition, migrant pupils are not necessarily visible in the school not least
because the group the research studied were European migrant children and
therefore not classified as minority ethnic groups. Schools try to keep up to date
records of such students but they can be transient, arriving at different times
throughout the academic year. The initial assessment of such children needs to
discover their ages, their previous academic record or their language competence.
In section 4 below we report the ways in which schools construct this information
before locating the child within the structure of the school.
In terms of research of European migrant children, the numbers involved are not
statistically significant with many classes having only one or a few such children.
Generalisations therefore are not possible. The numbers of EAL students in each
year in Brenton primary school and Windscott Academy are listed in Appendix 1
and 2.
Access, sampling and conduct of the research
The findings of our project, reported here were affected by the nature of the access
given to the research team to teachers, EAL specialist support, and students
but also by the limited access to EAL students’ parents. Below we describe the
procedures we followed to set up the research but also some of the limitations
which we encountered in accessing and understanding the range of school
practices.
Access to Brenton primary school was granted after meeting with the headteacher.
During that meeting members of the team presented the research that we intended
to conduct in the school, and this was approved by the headteacher. Interviews
were conducted with the headteacher, a parent governor, the EAL coordinator and
specialist EAL teaching assistant, a class teacher (Year 4) and a teaching assistant
(Year 6).
The specialist EAL teaching assistant who coordinated the research meant that
access to the EAL and non-EAL children was given priority. The team with her
help identified children that matched the aims of the research ensuring that the
sample represented the required socio-economic background, time spent in the UK
and children had an intermediate language proficiency. The sample consisted of
interviews with 10 EAL children (Polish (6), Lithuanian (1), Latvian (1) Bulgarian (1)
and one Slovakian/Roma) and 5 non-EAL children in Year 3-6. Consent letters were
sent out to all parents, and when these were not returned the letters were chased
up by the school liaison. This strategy greatly assisted the research process.
27
SCHOOL APPROACHES TO THE EDUCATION OF EAL STUDENTS: LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT, SOCIAL INTEGRATION AND ACHIEVEMENT
However it later transpired from an informal discussion with the school liaison
person16 that she had selected EAL children who had a fairly good attainment
record, behaved well in class and were good communicators. This was done with
the intention of helping us with the interviews, However, one of the boys who
was considered, in the words of the school liaison ‘more of a problem’, and did
not communicate much, was not included in the sample. This raised the broader
question of which other children were excluded from the sample, and the bias this
presented for the research, as the children selected participated in the sense of
confirming a ‘success story’ on the attainment, language proficiency and social
integration of EAL children in the school.
A similar issue arose with the selection of the non-EAL children. They were
selected on the basis of being involved in the ‘young interpreters’ programme or
because they were used to helping an EAL child in their class. Whilst the interviews
provided interesting data on the involvement of non-EAL children in helping EAL
children in class and in school, the selection of the participants by the school
liaison also introduced an unfortunate bias in the sampling.
Interviewing children with early or intermediate English presented linguistic
challenges that restricted our ability to assess the success of various pedagogic
practices and the type and level of social integration. The EAL specialist teaching
assistant considered that the children were proficient enough to speak in English
without an interpreter, and the choice was thus made not to have an interpreter
during interviews. This was also linked to the fact that all adults present during
interviews would need to be DBS checked, there was limited availability of
interpreters in the school, and the fact that a child would be likely to be more
intimidated during interviews with two unknown adults present. However, for
those children who had recently arrived, carrying out an interview in English
meant that they were restricted in what they could talk about or express. Whilst
this gave limited access to information, it also provided a good indication of their
communication strategies and proficiency in English.
Linguistic issues were also present for interviews with parents. The only interview
carried out with a Bulgarian parent was done with the help of an interpreter, but
this made the conversation difficult during the interview, and made it harder to
build rapport with the participant. The interpreter admitted to needing often to
rephrase questions – it is always difficult in such situations to know how accurate
are the questions and how well translated are the responses.
Another issue facing this sort of project was the limited availability of staff. The
EAL coordinator interview was not able to cover all the interview questions because
of her heavy work load. Space issues were a problem for interviews, as some
interviews were interrupted by members of staff who needed to access the room
in which the interviews were taking place. Other interviews were conducted in a
common room which at times became quite noisy. The other difficulties related
to the fact that a class teacher selected for us to interview was a newly qualified
teacher with a very limited experience of teaching EAL children. Ideally we would
have liked to conduct classroom observations as well as interviews in order to
know the extent of language development and social integration.
16. The role ‘school liaison’ refers to the
person who was in charge of coordinating
our research in the school. In the primary
school it was the EAL specialist teaching
assistant. She organised the interviews
with children and staff, followed up on
parental consent, and and was the point
of contact for any queries we had for this
research.
28
Researching EAL provision within Windscott Academy was affected by a
different set of factors. This school was exceptionally large, and had to address
many different community and educational issues at the same time. The EAL
department had undergone some major restructuring; it had increased in size and
additional staff being appointed. It now shares facilities with the reduced inclusion
department. However EAL provision in the school at the time of our research had
been delegated to two EAL Coordinators covering periods of sick leave. This made
gaining access and sampling of teachers and students particularly difficult. In the
locality and as a secondary school there also seemed to be few opportunities to
SECTION 3: THE EAST OF ENGLAND PROJECT: CONCEPTUAL AND RESEARCH FRAMEWORKS
work with parents. Hence the difficulty of gaining consent from the parents of EAL
and non EAL students for their children to be involved in the project.
In the event, with the support of the headteacher a sample of six teachers
participating in the research were selected by the EAL lead teacher. She was
notified of the subjects we wished to include - english, history, drama, french,
science, and PE and with her help teachers in these subjects indicated their
willingness to be involved in two interviews. This was a purposive sample based on
a mixture of volunteering, or recruitment by the EAL lead teacher. Interviews were
also conducted with the principal of the school, a school governor and the EAL
coordinator. Time constraints affected these interviews.
Unfortunately, it was not possible to undertake research with a sample of EAL and
non-EAL students as originally intended. Only three students were interviewed;
two Latvian EAL students and one non-EAL student. The non-EAL students were
quiet and nervous and appeared to have very little to do with the EAL community
within the school. The two EAL students have been in the UK for a considerable
length of time, which meant an interpreter was not needed and the interviews ran
smoothly in English. However, this meant that we were not able to tap the views
of ‘newly arrived’ EAL students. The first student claimed he spoke English more
than his home language and refused to translate for new arrivals because he had
forgotten a lot of the words. He claimed that he had been provoked by peers calling
him ‘a foreigner’. Underneath such interviews were tensions within the school that
could not be tapped by this exploratory project.
When the possibility of parent interviews was first raised with the Academy, they
expressed concerns regarding the poor attendance of parents at school events –
as had been the case in the events they organised in the past. Although parental
consent forms were translated and sent out twice to parents, none were returned.
As a consequence, no parents could be interviewed at Windscott Academy.
3.7 Summary
Researching the experiences of schools in working with non-English speaking
communities gave valuable insights into the issues that schools face in this area.
Since our project encountered a number of difficulties, it was not able to tap at
a deeper level the main pedagogical approaches used with EAL students, nor to
assess the success of the approaches teachers described. Further we were only
given restricted access to EAL secondary school students because of the failure to
gain the consent of their parents to the research. We learnt from this experience
that researchers are heavily dependent on the nature of partnerships between
parents and schools. Even primary schools that encourage good relationships
have difficulty in communicating with parents, whilst in the secondary school,
there may be few pathways that researchers can follow to encourage parents to
participate in projects. This theme is explored in more depth in Section 8 below.
The second stage of our project will address this issue directly.
Secondly our experience indicated that the time and effort required of schools
to support linguistic diversity in schools as well as differential achievement
levels, familiarity with school processes, local peer cultures etc. make it difficult
for the institution to work with researchers on site. The EAL coordinators
have considerable responsibilities alongside their classroom teaching (unless
separately employed for this role) in such linguistically and culturally diverse
environments. Their experiences of supporting migrant children are essential part
of the fabric of improving achievement and require a more focused approach to
understanding the strategies they use and encourage in their schools.
29
SCHOOL APPROACHES TO THE EDUCATION OF EAL STUDENTS: LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT, SOCIAL INTEGRATION AND ACHIEVEMENT
Finally, the research design, like that of classroom teaching is affected by the
constraints of language. Finding translators for the many home languages used
by students (six in the case of our study) and who are able to come to schools at
the required time creates almost insuperable difficulties. Schools themselves have
to rely on volunteers from the community and these are not always forthcoming.
The pressure to work with those students who can already speak English
pushes research designs towards those who have already settled into speaking
English rather than the newly arrived. At the same time, such students can give
researchers a purchase on where problems with that transition occur.
Despite such hurdles, in the following sections of the report we demonstrate the
importance of exploring language development in relation to social integration
and educational achievement. These three elements come together in a range of
different ways inside and outside the classroom. Teachers and students are aware
of the challenge and also the need to ensure successful language development.
30
SECTION 4:
SCHOOL ACCESS TO KNOWLEDGE ABOUT THE
HOME AND EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUNDS OF
EAL STUDENTS
31
SCHOOL APPROACHES TO THE EDUCATION OF EAL STUDENTS: LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT, SOCIAL INTEGRATION AND ACHIEVEMENT
Class teachers were
aware of their EAL
students’ country of origin,
their home language
and aspects of family
circumstances but there
was very little knowledge
of the students’ prior
educational experience
and no formal record of
this reaching either school
in the study.
The particular circumstances which mark the arrival of EAL students to schools
in the host country give rise to the following questions, amongst others, which
confront teachers and administrators:
•What categories of background knowledge are most useful for
informing the education of the EAL student?
•
How can this knowledge be obtained?
•
Who needs to have this knowledge?
The teachers in both schools revealed varying degrees of knowledge about EAL
students’ backgrounds. Class teachers were aware of their EAL students’ country
of origin, their home language and aspects of family circumstances but there was
very little knowledge of the students’ prior educational experience and no formal
record of this reaching either school in the study. Familiarity with background
information varied between the different categories of staff interviewed in the
study, with senior and middle management and EAL specialist staff displaying
more knowledge about the parents of EAL students and the home environment.
There was general acknowledgement that more background knowledge coming
in to the schools would be valuable, in particular in relation to prior academic
attainment and educational experience.
Internal systems of information dissemination of available background information
relating to the new EAL arrivals appeared to play an important role within the
school. There was some variability between approaches adopted in the primary and
secondary school settings. The former seemed to elicit a more rounded approach
to gaining knowledge of the newly arrived EAL child on a personal basis.
4.1 Knowledge about the EAL students’ parental
backgrounds
Knowledge about parental background tended to be stronger with headteachers
and pastoral or EAL teaching assistants than with the class teachers or non-EAL
teaching staff. The headteacher at the primary school revealed an awareness,
gained through dialogue with the parents on admission to the school, of the
diversity of circumstances behind the arrival of EAL students’ parents in England:
They’ve come to England to make a new life as a family and they get
work of some description and they’ve left perhaps unemployment in
their homeland or they’ve left a job to come to England for want of
better prospects.
(Mary Carrs, Headteacher, Brenton Primary School)
At the secondary school the perception was that EAL students’ parents were
generally hard working and in employment (often as low paid agricultural
labourers) and therefore their children did not qualify for free school meals.
For the principal at this school the focus of attention was the child rather than the
parent:
We could colloquially say “Hello, how are you? Where do you come
from? What do you do?” if the opportunity arises but generally we’re
focusing so much on the children. We take into account how supportive
the parent might be.
(Susan Austin, Principal, Westcott Academy)
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SECTION 4: SCHOOL ACCESS TO KNOWLEDGE ABOUT THE HOME AND EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUNDS OF EAL STUDENTS
4.2 Knowledge of prior schooling and performance
Knowledge about the EAL students’ prior academic performance is seen as a ‘top
priority’ at the secondary school. This is largely due to the pressing need to place
individuals into appropriate classes. While little, if any, formal documentation
relating to this is available from the previous school abroad, schools and teachers
found alternative ways of eliciting this information both at the primary and
secondary schools (these are described below). The Head of Pastoral Care at
the secondary school admitted that transition from a primary school (if the EAL
newcomer had previously attended a school in the UK) was significantly smoother
than in the case of mid-year arrivals from abroad. During the academic year
2012-2013 there were 50 in-year EAL admissions (some had arrived from other
secondary schools in the town because of experiencing bullying).
There was a common acceptance that, when the EAL children were not fully
stretched because of insufficient staff assessment and knowledge of their prior
learning and attainment, their motivation levels dropped and their behaviour
in school could deteriorate. All the subject teachers interviewed except for the
teacher of English believed prior education had an impact on the students’
learning of the subject. At the primary school there was an awareness that the
transition period for the newly arrived EAL child involved a period of adjustment to
different routines and approaches to study from the ones they were used to in their
country of origin. This was illustrated by comments from Petia, a Year 6 Bulgarian
pupil, at interview who commented on difficulties she encountered in the different
way of calculating percentages in maths in her new school. The TA in her class
helped her to learn the ‘difference between Bulgarian and English maths’.
Similarly she pointed to differences in the approach taken in literacy lessons with
more focus on speaking in England, which she found helpful.
A class teacher at the primary school described this initial disorienting experience
for the newly arrived EAL pupil in the following terms:
Well, I think at first it’s an obstacle because everything’s done
differently. So at first it’s like “I don’t know what’s going on”. But as
soon as they’ve been here for a while and they start to work out, as
soon as they start to make connections between like, “Well when
they’re doing that on the board it’s the same as when I do this at home,
or what I did back home”.
(Rachel Knight, Class Teacher Year 4, Brenton Primary School)
The EAL teaching assistant at the primary school described the linguistic and
socio-cultural challenge of the transition period for the children as: ‘clawing their
way back up to where they used to be in their home country’.
4.3 Sources of knowledge about new EAL students
Background information data gathering at both schools can be categorised under
two main headings: formal, structured information collected on admission to the
school; and informal, inferred knowledge gained through observation and dialogue
as the child’s attendance of school unfolds.
Formal collection of background information
Formal information is gathered from the parents on admission to the school and
is conducted through interviews with the principal or the EAL coordinator. In the
case of the secondary school relevant data (e.g. on family profile, home language,
refugee status) are entered on the SIMS (School Information Management System)
which can then be accessed by all class teachers in the school. In the primary
33
SCHOOL APPROACHES TO THE EDUCATION OF EAL STUDENTS: LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT, SOCIAL INTEGRATION AND ACHIEVEMENT
school, after an initial introduction to the school by the head teacher, the parents
are interviewed by the EAL coordinator for formal interview:
Generally speaking they come with very little, apart from the
information the parents will provide for you. So it’s so important that
one of our, you know, first systems is to make sure we have set out a
series of questions that we ask the parents to try and give us as much
information as possible about the child’s experience of speaking their
first language, learning in their first language and understanding if
they’ve got any English [...] what sort of experience have they had at
home, whether they had any learning difficulties when they went to
school in their home country, you know, what language is spoken at
home.
(Alice Hale, Pastoral Care, Windscott Academy)
Staff at both schools were conscious of the potential awkwardness of eliciting
information from the parents of children with EAL needs. side from linguistic
obstacles to communication in the case of some parents, there was also an
awareness of the need to avoid seeming judgmental or intrusive in asking about
the parents’ social circumstances. At the secondary school information was sought
on issues such as the parents’ employment and ‘previous experiences’ as this
helped staff see whether non-attendance at parents’ evenings or other meetings
was due to job or other commitments or lack of engagement in their child’s
schooling. The principal was conscious that sometimes the parents’ apparent lack
of proficiency in English masked a reluctance to communicate that was due to the
perceived pressures of their situation:
Quite often the parents bringing them to the first meeting at [the
school] speak very little English and the children very little English, or
if they do speak more English than they’re letting on in a first meeting
[...] they don’t know what to say in case they say something that upsets
somebody.
(Susan Austin, Principal, Westcott Academy)
Informally gathered background information
Informal information gathering through observation or dialogue with the EAL pupil
was referred to as a valuable source of background information which helped the
school gain insights into prior and current learning issues. The primary school
used an ‘All About Me’ leaflet as an explicit tool for constructing an individual
personal profile of the EAL child:
I send them home with a leaflet called “All About Me” and they draw
pictures and they write about what they might find worrying or what can
help them, and just what their favourite food is, what they like to play.
It’s very much a kind of “Who I am leaflet”, so I do ask them to fill that in.
(Natalie Jones, EAL Specialist Teacher, Brenton Primary School)
Examples were given at the primary school of revelations about prior schooling
through the pupils in lessons. For instance, the class teacher reported that a
Polish pupil brought letters from her former school friends in Poland to lessons
and shared information about what they said ‘their class was getting up to’.
Another example given by the teacher was that of an Indian girl who, probably on
the parents’ initiative, came to class ‘with all her books from her school in India
and showed them to us’.
34
SECTION 4: SCHOOL ACCESS TO KNOWLEDGE ABOUT THE HOME AND EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUNDS OF EAL STUDENTS
At Windscott Academy, there was some evidence of a reluctance by some EAL
students to talk about their educational background in order to avoid being
thought of as different from their non-EAL peers. One teacher commented:
I often find with EAL students they’re very unwilling to talk about their
background that they’ve had in other education because you almost
get the sense they don’t want to talk about what’s happened before.
And often you’ll say “Have you learnt about history in your language?”
and they’ll kind of go “Well yeah, we did history” and that’s all the
information they’ll give you, so whether they don’t want to share that or
they don’t know I’m not really sure.
(Joanne York, History Teacher, Windscott Academy)
Proficiency in English would seem to play a role in the degree to which the
students spoke about their prior learning. For instance, one teacher at the
secondary school commented on how the students’ inability to communicate in
English prevented them from indicating to the teacher whether or not they were
already familiar with the taught lesson content:
And sometimes obviously there are problems with accessing English
but when you’re teaching something, if they have done it before things
will pop up and they just kind of switch off. It’s like “I’ve done this
before”. And they can’t really translate: “I’ve done this before” as
easily. That can be quite difficult.
(Gill Clifford, Science Teacher, Windscott Academy)
A source of valuable informal information to the school regarding social issues as
they affected the students in the community was identified by the headteacher as
the ‘Locality Team’ consisting of youth workers, family workers, parent support
officers and child protection officers linked to local charities and the police:
So we have this plethora of intelligence that we bring to bear and quite
often after a few weeks of a student being here we might get wind of
the fact through the localities that there are issues about this child.
Generally they would present to us as parents not answering the phone,
parents not turning up for meetings, children being late for school
[...] There are many families in [Windscott] for whom we provide this
service, which is why the EAL locality [team] is so very, very important.
We’d be lost without them.
(Susan Austin, Principal, Windscott Academy)
However, the parent governor interviewed for the study revealed good knowledge
of the school’s activities regarding information about the school’s EAL pupils and
confirmed that the headteacher regularly provided anonymised reports to the
governing body.
4.4 Dissemination of information within the schools
At the secondary school, dissemination of information regarding the EAL students
was largely dependent on the school’s use of the SIMS (School Information
Management System) database. Teachers were able to access information about,
for instance, the EAL students’ length of residence in the UK, their reading
levels, their home language and family background. It was clear that availability
of information alone was not sufficient – more was needed to ensure that the
information was disseminated effectively. The teachers themselves needed to be
proactive in accessing the information. As one teacher remarked: ‘if we ask the
35
SCHOOL APPROACHES TO THE EDUCATION OF EAL STUDENTS: LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT, SOCIAL INTEGRATION AND ACHIEVEMENT
questions, we can usually find out the information – but we have to ask’. The head
of pastoral care (who was also EAL coordinator at the school) underlined that
improving the procedures for information gathering and dissemination within the
school was an ongoing high priority:
This isn’t just specifically for students with English as an Additional
Language. This kind of information sharing is something that I’m
working on massively so that parents aren’t having to say the same
thing 95 times to seven different people in, you know, 15 areas. So that
information we gather is used, stored and is accessible for ... so that
when the next person says “I wonder about that?” they would know
where to go to or at least who to ask.
(Alice Hale, Pastoral Care, Windscott Academy)
For one teacher interviewed, the timing of information dissemination was identified
as a source of strain on the system:
If you have more than two or three students come in, which we do
have at certain points during the year, it just takes time to get that
information out and to get them kind of tested so that’s when it, kind of,
can break down.
(Joanne York, History Teacher, Windscott Academy)
There was some evidence at both schools of ‘bottom up’ as well as ‘top down’
dissemination of information. At the secondary school all teachers fill in a ‘six
week pro forma’ on the EAL students they teach and forward this to the school EAL
coordinator:
So once they’ve been here six weeks, the coordinator will send out a
form and ask everyone to fill it in about all sorts of things: their social
functioning with peers as well as adults, behaviour in class in general,
confidence in their work, whether they’re punctual, their attendance,
their work in general. So six weeks in we get a better picture, I believe,
of actually how they’re doing.
(Samantha Benton, EAL Teacher, Windscott Academy)
At the primary school this process seemed to be less formal, more serendipitous
and drew on the class teacher’s access to individual parents at the start and end of
the school day, as reported by the specialist EAL teacher:
There is a bit of information [about the students’ home background] I
usually find that out by chatting to the teachers because the teachers
have been seeing the parents at the beginning and end of the day.
Obviously, the older the children are the less the parents are going to be
around, but the more they’re going to tell you about their lives and their
home life, so the more information you get from them.
(Natalie Jones, EAL Specialist Teaching Assistant, Brenton Primary School)
However, the parent governor interviewed for the study revealed good knowledge
of the school’s activities regarding information about the school’s EAL pupils and
confirmed that the headteacher regularly provided anonymised reports to the
governing body.
36
SECTION 4: SCHOOL ACCESS TO KNOWLEDGE ABOUT THE HOME AND EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUNDS OF EAL STUDENTS
4.5 I nitial assessment of EAL students shortly after
admission
Brenton Primary School
In the absence of formal records or information about prior learning on admission
to the school, the assessment of EAL learners within the first few weeks following
admission to the school takes on added significance. At the primary school,
substantial effort seemed to have been invested in developing appropriate systems
of assessment albeit focusing primarily on English language competence. Prime
responsibility for the assessment of new arrivals rests with the EAL coordinator and
specialist teaching assistant. The QCA assessment tests17 are used to assess the
pupils’ level of English language proficiency. Again, the timing of the tests was seen
to be an important factor:
It’s certainly not conducted in the first two weeks here. We said, initially
when I started this job, I’ve got a piece of paper that says we do it after
two weeks, but [...]What are you doing it for anyway? In order to assess
that child’s needs. Well, their needs are shifting so fast in the first six
weeks that you can waste your time assessing that, and then assess
it three days later if you want, you’re getting a snapshot that’s just
meaningless. If you assess it after six weeks, you may have a better idea
of what their slightly longer term needs might be, in order to write the
individual language plan after the classroom.
(Natalie Jones, EAL Specialist Teaching Assistant, Brenton Primary School)
Once the EAL pupils have progressed through the 4 levels that precede the
mainstream national curriculum levels for English their performance in English
and mathematics is measured using the Assessing Pupils’ Progress (APP) grid
which is applied to all the pupils in the school. Competence in comprehension and
other language skills is used to benchmark their reading and progression to the
next level depends on the benchmarking score. A further test used in the school
with EAL pupils is the Renfrew Vocabulary Test18. 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. The class
teacher commented on the key role of the interpreter, provided free to the school
by the local authority on a weekly basis for the first eight or nine weeks following
admission, in translating the content of the ILP for the pupil and their parents, a
service which was seen to be considerably more effective than the online translation
tool which was otherwise used:
We had access to a translator for a few weeks. We got her to do things
like we’d send home individual educational plans for the EAL children,
which would have their targets on and I got her to translate everything
into Polish because I know that the translator hadn’t. The computer
translator wouldn’t have done it to the standard that it needs to be.
(Rachel Knight, Class Teacher, Year 4, Brenton Primary School)
The only assessment in the first language at the primary school reported in the
study was on admission to the school where the prime aim, as indicated by the
principal, is to ascertain whether or not the new pupil was constrained by learning
difficulties beyond those of command of the English language:
So somebody will come in and will assess the child in Polish to ascertain
whether perhaps they’ve got a learning difficulty in Polish [...] Well,
if you’re trying to learn a second language and you’ve got a learning
difficulty in your first language then clearly you are... there’s lots of
barriers there.
(Mary Carrs, Headteacher, Brenton Primary School)
17. The QCA(2000) A Language in Common
provides a scale for assessing early
progress in the four language skills and
includes a description for attainment prior
to level 1 of the National Curriculum.
The document also provides guidance to
schools on strategies for assessing EAL
learners performance in English. The
document continues to be recommended
by the Department for Education on its
website.
18. The Renfrew Word Finding Vocabulary
Test assesses children’s expressive
vocabulary (compared, for instance, with
the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test,
which is a test of receptive vocabulary). It
assesses the extent to which pictures of
objects, arranged in order of difficulty, can
be named correctly. Most of the objects
illustrated have no alternative names, so
the responses of children can be quickly
measured. The assessment contains 50
line-drawn pictures and is suitable for
children aged 3-9 years’. See S. Buckley,
C. Underwood and N. Purdie ‘Who Am
I? and Renfrew Word Finding Vocabulary
Test : report on wave 2 data’. Accessed at
http://research.acer.edu.au/indigenous_
education/35/
37
SCHOOL APPROACHES TO THE EDUCATION OF EAL STUDENTS: LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT, SOCIAL INTEGRATION AND ACHIEVEMENT
This indicates that mother tongue assessment is only valued for establishing
whether the child has a learning disability rather than for what it can tell schools
about the academic abilities of the individual and suggests that there is a need for
greater awareness of the scope of initial assessment in the first language.
Windscott Academy
At the time of data collection, Windscott Academy was in the middle of an ongoing
revision of its EAL assessment and provision procedures and practices Initial
assessment of EAL arrivals at the school was through the use of the Raven’s
Progressive Matrices tests which take the form of nonverbal cognitive tests,
supported in the past by translators to translate the test instructions into the L1
when necessary:
And that just gives us a little snippet into whether actually if somebody
was struggling with English, but actually cognitively they can problemsolve, they can analyse things, if we don’t have any prior data in terms
of what they would have been able to achieve elsewhere. And plus some
maths testing we’re introducing as well, but trying to keep the verbal
necessity fairly low. And they will be assessed on English as well.
(Alice Hale, Pastoral Care, Windscott Academy)
As the EAL coordinator intimated, the current system of placement in different sets
for different subjects is in need of further improvement, and alternative tests (such
as the Oxford Young Learners Placement Test) were being considered:
But there was a massive clustering in bottom sets in every subject and
there was – because of mid-year moves or mid-year entry, there were
lots of students in Art and P.E. because they were the last ones to fill or
they were the ones that we felt, “Well Okay, if you can’t speak English,
you must be able to do that instead” [...] And the English and maths
teachers have tried to look, when they’ve placed people, because it
tends to dictate what bands they’re in, based on academic ability rather
than purely their English. So if maths is saying, “Honestly, they’re
really, really good” and making sure that they’re not automatically put
in the bottom set. And as I said, when we do testing or if they work with
us intensively, we then say, based on what we think cognitively they
should be in this set or that set.
(Alice Hale, Pastoral Care, Windscott Academy)
The need to avoid clustering of EAL students in bottom sets in different subjects
in secondary schools was echoed by a Local Authority EAL advisor at interview
for this study, who also pointed to the use of a diversity of strategies in schools in
order to avoid this default practice which was still in evidence in some schools:
Sometimes, but we would always recommend that that doesn’t happen.
Not – you know not always actually and there are some schools that
have got really good practice and are putting their children, you know,
in with the higher ability and will move them around; I think that’s the
important thing is that you know, because also you wouldn’t want them
to be in a set that’s too high. So it varies, the practice varies, but there
are significant numbers of schools that wouldn’t do that. They might
put somebody who speaks the same language together so that they can
support the newer arrival for a while, but it’s important that the one
who’s been here longer doesn’t feel kind of overly put-upon by having to
be the interpreter all the time.
(Victoria King, Local Authority EAL Advisor)
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SECTION 4: SCHOOL ACCESS TO KNOWLEDGE ABOUT THE HOME AND EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUNDS OF EAL STUDENTS
4.6 Summary
Background knowledge is seen by schools to be important primarily so that they
can plan the education of individual newly arrived EAL students appropriately.
Different categories of knowledge serve different purposes and are equally
valued. Schools receive very little formal information or record of prior attainment
from the students’ prior schools abroad. The data suggest that there is a need
for formal systems of transfer of educational records and related data between
institutions. This might be achievable within the EU. Knowledge of home
background, social circumstances and residence status of the students provides
schools with useful information in their work to support the social integration
of the students within the school. The staff interviewed reported knowledge
about the linguistic background of the students as well as an awareness that in
some cases the students were proficient in more than one language other than
English. Further knowledge about the languages spoken by EAL students and the
differences with English would be useful to inform the teachers’ understanding of
the EAL children’s learning progress.
Schools receive very little
formal information or
record of prior attainment
from the students’ prior
schools abroad. The data
suggests that there is a
need for formal systems
of transfer of educational
records and related data
between institutions
The schools developed formal and informal strategies for eliciting background
information from the parents and the students on admission and as their
attendance at school progresses. Language plays an important role in mediating
this process of knowledge gathering. There is a need for staff to share ideas on
different effective strategies and to reflect on the usefulness of such knowledge
in the planning of their teaching. Overall, though, neither school showed signs of
having a fully embedded system for identifying key information regarding newly
arrived EAL students at the school, nor of implementing effective systems of
dissemination.
39
SCHOOL APPROACHES TO THE EDUCATION OF EAL STUDENTS: LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT, SOCIAL INTEGRATION AND ACHIEVEMENT
SECTION 3:
THE EAST OF ENGLAND PROJECT:
CONCEPTUAL AND RESEARCH FRAMEWORKS
The East of England is an interesting region to conduct research on
SECTION
EAL learners5:
because of the relative high numbers of migrants coming
to the region and, in particular, migrants from countries which have
most recently joinedATTITUDES
the European Union
(thePEDAGOGY
so-called A8 countries).
LANGUAGES,
AND
Another characteristic of the area relates to the clusters of poverty and
disadvantage within some of its rural areas where migrants have moved
to and have been actively recruited to by employers. This rural context
is relatively under-researched with the result that the link between
migration and rural poverty and rural schools is not generally recognised.
Below we outline in more detail the demography of the region and the
migration characteristics.
40
SECTION 5: LANGUAGES, ATTITUDES AND PEDAGOGY
Language plays a very important role in EAL students’ social integration and
academic learning in the school. Teachers’, parents’ and students’ attitudes
towards languages, both English and home languages, can greatly influence how
teachers teach and how students learn in the classroom. This section will seek to
address these issues and focus on three themes:
•
Language use and language policy in the school
•
Students’, teachers’ and parents’ attitudes towards languages
•
Pedagogical strategies in the multilingual classroom
5.1 Language use and language policy
Both participant schools in the study have a diverse student population. In
Brenton Primary School, over 20 percent of the students speak English as an
additional language, while in Windscott Academy the proportion of EAL students
is even higher and reaches nearly 50 percent. Along with English, a number of
home languages are used both inside and outside the classroom. In Windscott
Academy, the most highly represented languages are Polish, Russian, Lithuanian,
Latvian and Portuguese while in Brenton Primary School there is a more even
mix of East European languages (e.g. Polish, Bulgarian, Slovakian) and Asian
languages (e.g. Bengali, Urdu and Chinese). The complexity of students’ language
backgrounds has resulted in various patterns of language use in the interaction
and communication among teachers and students
In general, English remains the dominant language in use among students in both
schools, featuring interaction among non-EAL students, interaction between EAL
and non-EAL students, and English as a lingua franca (e.g. among EAL children
who do not speak the same home language). The interactions between teachers
and students and among teachers themselves are mainly conducted in English.
Home languages also have a strong presence in both schools, particularly in
interactions involving newly arrived EAL students. In Windscott Academy, EAL
students speaking the East European languages, particularly Lithuanian, tend to
cling to each other and use their home languages in informal settings. In Brenton
Primary School, home languages are also used among EAL students in informal
settings, but students from all language backgrounds seem to mix quite well
together. In the classroom context, home languages are used mainly to support
the newly arrived EAL students who have very limited English.
Switching between multiple languages is common among EAL students. However,
this phenomenon appears to be related to students’ proficiency in different
languages and the length of stay in the UK. The higher an EAL student’s English
proficiency is, the less likely she/he changes between languages. Similarly, the
impression that we gained from our interviews with teachers and students is that
the longer an EAL student has resided in the UK the less likely they would want to
code-switch19.
Language policy
Both schools have shown strong features of a complex multilingual learning
environment and a range of multilingual practices involving both English and
home languages. However our research in the two schools suggests that there
19. Code-switching refers to a linguistic
phenomenon where a bilingual or
multilingual speaker switches between two
or more languages or language varieties.
41
SCHOOL APPROACHES TO THE EDUCATION OF EAL STUDENTS: LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT, SOCIAL INTEGRATION AND ACHIEVEMENT
appears not to be a school-wide written language policy which would provide
commonly agreed principles and clear guidance on which language (English and
home languages) should be used, when and where.
Classroom teachers seemed to have their own policy about language use which
was underpinned by their beliefs about languages. For example, some teachers
believed that English and home languages were mutually enhancing and
supported a classroom policy of ‘free use’ of any languages that suited the needs
of the students:
I think it’s just so helpful for them that they’ve got these two languages
that they can sort of communicate in. I think the stronger they are in
their home language really helps them with another language. They
kind of go hand in hand really.
(Rachel Knight, Class Teacher, Year 4, Brenton Primary School)
Well, the better their home language, the more understanding they’ll
be able to relate to the English. Because if they don’t know what, I don’t
know, ‘disappointed’ is in Lithuanian, they’re not going to know what
it is in English. So you’re only going to have to teach them the whole
thing. So the better their grasp of their home language, the easier they
should, in theory, be able to grasp English.
(Samantha Benton, EAL Lead Teacher, Windscott Academy)
Some teachers, however, had concerns about the negative impact of home
languages on the development of the EAL learners’ English and recommended a
classroom policy of ‘restricted use’ of home languages:
I think it [home language]should be used in the classroom but it should
be restricted use in the classroom, because if you want the child to
learn English if you have somebody in there that is constantly speaking
their own language they’re never going to learn, because they’ll always
revert back and ask all the questions and everything else in their own
language.
(Lucy Thornton, Teaching Assistant, Year 6, Brenton Primary School)
Yeah. I think if you’re going to come into a school that’s predominantly
English, even though it’s fine to have all the culture and their
background and everything totally for that, but I just don’t think it
does them any favours if they can’t access what’s been taught to them,
they just end up sitting there. And we’re told that, oh, if they sit there
for long enough they’ll take things in, but how long is long enough?
How do you gauge that? How do you say, well yeah, they are learning
English, is it a year? Is it two years? And that’s all that time that
they’ve missed out on that education.
(Gill Clifford, Science Teacher, Windscott Academy)
More maximalist views on the use of English were put forward by those teachers
who argued that all students studying in an English school were expected to ‘speak
English clearly’ and an ‘English only’ policy should be adopted in the classroom.
It’s got to be basically English, if they’re in an English school really.
(Lucy Thornton, Teaching Assistant, Year 6, Brenton Primary School)
I have unfortunately heard teachers say, (bangs on desk) “English
please. Only in English please.”
(Lynne Upton, French Teacher, Windscott Academy)
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SECTION 5: LANGUAGES, ATTITUDES AND PEDAGOGY
The principal of Windscott Academy admitted that she would love ‘to hear the other
side of the argument that says, “Right, you should have a policy that says, only
English is to be spoken”. In general, a school-wide language policy is welcomed,
which could provide some general guidance for teachers to understand the
language needs of the students. However, the variety of views seems to indicate
that a one-size-fits-all approach might not be easy to implement given the
complexity of individual classroom contexts:
No, we’d like to encourage it [student’s home language] more but we’re
not quite sure exactly how! As opportunity arises! (laughs) I think the
problem is that we don’t have one huge community of one language. If
we did, we could have clubs around that or all sorts of things, but we
don’t.
(Natalie Jones, EAL Specialist Teaching Assistant, Brenton Primary School)
We need to guide staff and it’s something we need to make a decision on
or at least have some – we’re trying to draw up some [language policy]
guidelines about, “How much is too much?” No one’s expecting you to
translate everything and actually it’s not helpful. And similarly when
we are employing language assistants, the idea isn’t that they translate
the lesson and then we do the lesson in Lithuanian, Polish and Russian;
it’s that we have that fine balance or when it’s useful and when it’s not.
(Alice Hale, Pastoral Care, Windscott Academy)
5.2 Attitudes towards languages
The interview data gathered from students, teachers and parents in both Brenton
Primary School and Windscott Academy seem to reveal a similar pattern. In
general, all three groups had a positive attitude towards the linguistic and cultural
diversity in the school. Nevertheless, their attitudes towards the actual use of
languages differed, with teachers’ views varying considerably and parents mainly
supporting the idea of ‘English only’ in the school. Teachers’ and parents’ views
were interestingly contrasted with the indifferent attitudes of the students, many
of whom according to their teachers seemed to be unwilling to talk about their
background and home languages. This reluctance may be explained by their desire
to learn English.
Students’ attitudes towards languages
The majority of the EAL students we interviewed in both schools showed a strong
interest in the English language and expressed a strong desire to acquire the
language as quickly as possible. They cited various benefits of learning English
such as ‘help the family’, ‘think fast’, ‘get a good job’, etc. Many students felt that
they ‘should’ learn English, which can be illustrated by the following quote of a
student from Brenton Primary School:
No I don’t think I would like to learn Bulgarian. I would like to learn
English because I am in England now and English language will go and
help me.
(Petia, Bulgarian EAL Child, Brenton Primary School)
In general, the EAL students we interviewed seemed to have an indifferent attitude
toward their home language, which was seen as ‘useful’, but not ‘important’. Many
students were aware of their cultural connection with their home language, but
felt that learning and use English is a natural thing to do. This was particularly
evident among those who had been in the UK for a relatively long period of time.
43
SCHOOL APPROACHES TO THE EDUCATION OF EAL STUDENTS: LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT, SOCIAL INTEGRATION AND ACHIEVEMENT
They tended to use English as the sole language in their thinking, learning, and
interaction with peers and seemed to be experiencing language loss of their
mother tongue:
Like it’s hard for me to write in Latvian, because I’ve forgot, forget
everything. Because like I’m probably not even going to go back to
Latvia, so I don’t really see no point speaking Latvian.
(Juris, Latvian student, Windscott Academy)
A student from Windscott Academy also noted that many EAL students did not
want to use and talk about their home languages because they were afraid of
being picked on by their peers who would ‘put on an accent’ and ‘try and do their
language’. The fear of being bullied is suspected to be quite common among EAL
students. This seems to confirm the general impression conveyed in the interviews
that the EAL students felt immensely proud of their competence in English,
but were quite reluctant to talk about their home languages. The following two
extracts, one from an interview with an EAL student at Brenton Primary School and
another from Windscott Academy interestingly illustrate this impression. Here is an
interview with Latvian student Juris:
Juris: Yeah, sometimes teachers say like, write it in Latvian, then translate into
English.
Researcher: Okay, so –
Juris: But I’ve never done that.
Researcher: You’ve never done that [using your home language], but you’ve heard
them tell other people, or did they tell you?
Juris: They told me, if you want you can do it in Latvian, but I just didn’t.
Researcher: You didn’t, why didn’t you want to do it in Latvian?
Juris: Because I learnt English really fast.
Researcher: Really, yeah, so because you speak it but I guess you don’t write it. Okay.
So it’s actually… You find it easier to write in English then or?
Juris: Yeah.
Researcher: Okay, and what about when you think in your head? Do you ever think in
Latvian, or do you think in English?
Juris: In English.
Researcher: In English. Okay. And what about when you do your homework?
Juris: I do it in English.
Researcher: English as well. Okay. And what about your mother, what does she think
about using Latvian at school? Have you ever spoken about that with her?
Juris: No. She knows that I’m alright with English.
Another example is provided by the interview with Adrejz, a Polish student at
Brenton Primary School:
Researcher: Now does it ever happen? Do you ever need to say a Polish word?
Andrejz: I don’t have to say anymore Polish.
Researcher: Okay, do you think it would be good to use Polish ever in a classroom?
Andrejz: Pardon.
Researcher: Do you think it would ever help you to use a Polish word?
44
SECTION 5: LANGUAGES, ATTITUDES AND PEDAGOGY
Andrejz: No, no.
Researcher: No, so it’s not something that you think you would like to do.
Andrejz: Uhuh.
Researcher: Okay, and do the teachers ever talk about Polish or Poland to explain
something in the classroom?
Andrejz: No.
Researcher: That’s never happened?
Andrejz: I don’t know, I’m really not sure.
For newly arrived EAL children, however, the situation is different. At Brenton, they
reported that they had received some bilingual support when they first arrived and
thought it was ‘helpful’ and ‘useful’ to be able to draw upon their home languages
in learning. Here Joanna, a Polish student from Brenton Primary School, explains:
Researcher: Okay, so why do you think the teacher told you to write in Polish?
Joanna: To know how to say something, what that means. I can just look in a book and
just page down and look at that thing to translate, and then I just know how to type.
Researcher: Okay, so it’s helping you learn?
Joanna: Yeah. I just get it there, some sentence and write down, like in a hand there, I
am just learning in hand.
Researcher: So you had it in your hand to learn. Okay, and did that help?
Joanna: Yeah.
Teachers’ attitudes towards languages
Like the students, the teachers in both schools had a positive attitude towards
the linguistic and cultural diversity in their school. The following two comments
illustrate the development of cultural openness within the school community as a
whole:
I think we all recognise that the community is really diverse and also
actually quite disadvantaged, that’s the make-up of the community.
So we aim to be a fully inclusive school for all our children to be
safe, happy, achieving their potential, and also to offer a curriculum
that embraces the diversity of this community and the world as well
because the children need to learn about the world around them and
we’re very much of the view that the diversity you can offer within the
curriculum is really important to help the curriculum with, you know,
the next stage of their education as well as when they become adults
and, you know, go to work hopefully in what can continue to be a very
diverse society.
(Mary Carrs, Headteacher, Brenton Primary School)
Well I think we try to encourage students not to be ethnocentric or
xenophobic. We want them to I think as a whole close the divide
between different cultures and different languages and to help them
embrace each other and to live in more of a peaceful community as a
school and outside.
(Lynne Upton, French Teacher, Windscott Academy)
Despite a general open
attitude towards cultural
and linguistic diversity,
however, there were some
mixed feelings about the
actual use of English and
home languages in the
classroom. On the one hand,
it was felt that all languages
should be encouraged
where possible; but, on
the other hand, there were
some concerns that the use
of home languages would
take up time that should be
spent on developing their
English skills.
45
SCHOOL APPROACHES TO THE EDUCATION OF EAL STUDENTS: LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT, SOCIAL INTEGRATION AND ACHIEVEMENT
Despite a general open attitude towards cultural and linguistic diversity, however,
there were some mixed feelings about the actual use of English and home
languages in the classroom. On the one hand, it was felt that all languages should
be encouraged where possible; but, on the other hand, there were some concerns
that the use of home languages would take up time that should be spent on
developing their English skills. The dilemma is well illustrated in the following
two comments by a teaching assistant from Brenton Primary School and a drama
teacher from Windscott Academy:
It is quite interesting that other children will ask the child who’s from
Poland or wherever else, they will actually ask them what does that
mean in Polish, which is good, but I think once they’re here and once
they have the basis of the English language, once it’s very basic, but you
can work on that. I don’t think you should have somebody in all the time
in their own language, but I do think social wise I think they need that.
(Lucy Thornton, Teaching Assistant Year 6, Brenton Primary School)
Oh I’d probably use it [home language] all the time, but I do think that
it’s important, I mean if they’re in this country, they’re going to live in
this country, they’re going to work in this country, yes it’s fantastic they
speak more than one language but they do need to be able to speak
English clearly and I think in an English school they should be able to
speak English clearly.
(Tracey Page, Drama Teacher, Windscott Academy)
Finally, there seems to be
a clear division between
home and school in terms
of language use: home
languages are meant to
be spoken at home and
English in the school. The
division demonstrates
the dilemma of many
immigrant background
parents. On the one hand,
they want their children
to learn and become more
English, but, on other
hand, they expect them
to preserve their heritage
language and culture.
The bilingual teaching assistants’ views provided another dimension to our
understanding of teachers’ attitudes towards languages. They seemed to be
very clear about their role in the school, which was to support the EAL students
in developing their English skills. They tended not to use home languages to
communicate with the EAL students except when translating for students who
struggled with English and the newly arrived students. They explained that they
wanted to serve as a model for the students who they believed needed to use the
English language in order to integrate into the community quickly. The use of home
languages in the school was seen as a barrier to achieving these goals:
Even today I had to cover for science and some – two Lithuanian
students say – started speaking in Lithuanian. I said, “Speak English”
you know and this is quite funny because…. I’m a foreigner as well.
But I try, “Why we should speak English?” I said, “Because I don’t feel
comfortable and the people around don’t feel comfortable when you’re
speaking your own language and maybe if you will start speaking
English, we can join the conversation because it may be an interesting
conversation. So that’s why you should speak English and you’re going
to learn how to speak English”.
(Aron Letwick, PE Teacher, Windscott Academy)
Parents’ attitudes towards languages
Our research did not generate much data about parents’ attitudes towards
languages, due to the difficulty of arranging interviews with parents and the
problem of translation. However, based on the available data and through crossreferencing with the interviews conducted with the students and teachers, three
observations can be made.
First, like the students and teachers, the parents in both schools were aware that
Windscott Academy and Brenton Primary School are linguistically and culturally
diverse communities and were generally happy for their children to learn in a
multilingual environment.
46
SECTION 5: LANGUAGES, ATTITUDES AND PEDAGOGY
Second, with regard to which language should be used in the school, they appeared
to be very strict with their children and urged them only to use English for various
reasons, such as ‘learn English better to help family’, ‘mix with other children’
or even ‘become an English girl’. A student from Brenton Primary School, for
example, lamented that when her father knew that she used Slovakian in the
school she got told off. She reported that her father ‘shouted’ at her and called her
‘hlúpa baba” or ‘a stupid girl’.
Finally, there seems to be a clear division between home and school in terms of
language use: home languages are meant to be spoken at home and English in the
school. The division demonstrates the dilemma of many immigrant background
parents. On the one hand, they want their children to learn and become more
English, but, on other hand, they expect them to preserve their heritage language
and culture.
Parents’ attitudes seemed to have great influence on their children, which can be
illustrated in the following two excerpts of interviews:
Researcher: …How would they [your parents] explain, would they explain to you why
you should use it [English]?
Alena: They would, because, well basically they think that my school’s only for English,
learning only English not Slovakian and they would, they would have a reason to like,
right be mean to me about it. (Alena, Slovakian Child, Brenton Primary School)
Researcher: About it? And you said they want you to be an English girl?
Alena: Yeah.
Another similar example is provided by the discussion with Ludis, a Latvian student
at Windscott Academy:
Researcher: […] What languages do you speak?
Ludis: Just Latvian and English.
Researcher: […] And when you speak these languages, Latvian and English, where do
you speak them?
Ludis: Speak Latvian at home, and speak English everywhere else.
5.3 Classroom strategies for EAL students
The large number of EAL students poses great challenges for both schools, but
the teachers have shown a very welcoming attitude towards these students and
put in enormous effort to help them to learn and integrate into the community. In
the primary school, classroom activities are mainly organised to develop students’
general literacy and learning skills. With the EAL students, the main goal is to
get them to start to speak English and help them mix with other students. In the
secondary school, there is more emphasis on subject teaching and the activities
are mainly organised to achieve specific learning targets. The support for EAL
students mainly focuses on helping them access the content of the class. Despite
the differences, the teachers in both schools have drawn upon similar teaching
strategies in the classroom.
Task simplification
Many teachers acknowledged that the situation was sometimes ‘overwhelming’
with classes full of EAL students speaking different languages. However, they did
not see EAL students as the ‘problem source’. Rather, they tended to think that this
47
SCHOOL APPROACHES TO THE EDUCATION OF EAL STUDENTS: LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT, SOCIAL INTEGRATION AND ACHIEVEMENT
is a common challenge that any teacher could face when teaching mixed ability
groups:
I model all the answers because all of our students need literacy help
- all of them. So everything that I do for a student with the EAL is only
going to benefit a student with English, especially the Year 7s. I teach
the two bottom sets and, yeah, they need a lot of help. So, for example,
today we were doing PEE* [Points, Evidence, Explain] paragraphs, so
the point was in one colour, the evidence in another, the explanation in
another so they can see it broken down. And key word banks, so every
lesson we have a board where we just put the key words up from that
lesson so everyone gets to use them and they get repeated over and
over, spelt out over and over, because every student needs that help. So
I don’t do anything differently.
(Samantha Benton, Drama Teacher, Windscott Academy)
A wide range of general classroom strategies of supporting weaker students were
drawn upon by the teachers, such as ‘slow it down’, ‘spoon feed everything in
small chunks’, ‘demonstrate a bit more‘, ‘break things down’ ‘repeat a bit’, ‘give a
gesture’, ‘present the questions in different ways’ and so on. The main purpose of
these strategies was to facilitate the learning process by simplifying the tasks. The
teachers did not seem to follow any specific EAL teaching principles, but mainly
used a case-by-case approach and differentiate their teaching based on their
knowledge, experience and observation over the years:
Well, not really apart from you would differentiate to suit your students.
You know your students, you know how far they can go, you know how
far to push them so you would just differentiate to that using strategies
that have been put in place.
(Alison Black, English Teacher, Windscott Academy)
Translation
When asked specifically how they dealt with struggling EAL students who had very
little English, the teachers agreed that translation and interpreting was the most
effective and commonly used strategy.
Translators of a wide range of home languages were employed by both schools,
who visited the school on a regular basis. There were also bilingual support
teachers in both schools. They worked alongside the class teachers and provided
bilingual support for the EAL students as well as liaison support for the family.
Their work was highly commended by the students, teachers and parents alike,
which can be illustrated by the comments below:
I think it is good to have somebody who can speak their language and
speaks English very well, and I think they learn much quicker that way,
by that person because they can switch from one to the other. Whereas
if you’re just trying to translate on a laptop there’s this delay and you
have to wait for it, and then you have to wait for a reply. Whereas if
they’re talking they can just talk and they switch into the English, and I
think they learn a lot more like that, yeah.
(Lucy Thornton, EAL Teaching Assistant, Year 6, Brenton Primary School)
Because we don’t just tend to have one other language in the class. Or
at least a multilingual translator. But yeah, I mean I could definitely
make use of something like that in a lesson, but having not had it then
we can’t do it.
(Tracy Page, Drama Teacher, Windscott Academy)
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SECTION 5: LANGUAGES, ATTITUDES AND PEDAGOGY
Other teaching strategies that involve translation are more textual, visual and
material based. These strategies include using bilingual worksheet, word bank,
translation software, dictionary, multilingual visual aids, bilingual books, etc.
Many teachers reported that they often used dictionaries and translation software
such as Google Translate in their teaching. In general, the use of translation as
a teaching strategy was considered to be ‘easy to use’, ‘helpful’, and ‘effective’ in
solving some immediate problems of understanding and communication:
Yeah, you’ve got all the different levels in English and it’s using
translation software to try and translate things. Then, try and break
things down for her and then present the questions in different ways so
you know, using the word ‘add’ and using the word ‘total’, just trying to
put that into the software as well because we have so many different
words for ‘add’ and so many different words for ‘subtract’. Quite often
the translation software then produces different things as well.
(Rachel Knight, Class Teacher, Year 4, Brenton Primary School)
It’s easier to give them a dictionary and get them to translate key words
and do that than maybe it is to do anything else.
(Joanne York, History Teacher, Windscott Academy)
Peer support
The use of peer support also appeared as a strategy in the classroom. For
example, some senior EAL students were designated as ‘young interpreters’ who
actively engaged in supporting the newly arrived EAL students. In the classroom,
teachers also tended to pair up the students who spoke the same language so that
they could help each other in lessons. The buddy system seemed to work quite
well in both schools, and was highly appreciated by the students and teachers,
which can be illustrated in the following comments:
There’s a culture within the school that’s very welcoming towards new
children, so socially […]– socially the procedure is in place to welcome
the child and buddy up with a friend, we try and put children who’ve
got the same first language in the same class where it’s possible.
We’ve got like a Lithuanian speaker[…]a new arrival, stick them in the
same class if their age group is obviously correct. But very much, you
know, trying to support their learning and make sure that we have high
expectations of them, make sure that... you know, you expect them to
be talking within a few months of listening first of all, then talking, then
reading and writing and, you know, they can progress very quickly.
(Mary Carrs, Principal, Brenton Primary School)
Other things I’ve tried is like buddying them up in the classroom.
Sometimes if they are very, very newly arrived I will buddy them up
with a person who speaks a similar language who can at least explain
the task to them. That is the biggest challenge, you really want them
to do some work but it’s finding different ways of allowing them to do it
and not having to teach them a whole different lesson. For them it’s like
finding ways they can access the lesson that everybody else is doing.
(Joanne York, History Teacher, Windscott Academy)
Use of home languages
The teachers in both schools made a great effort to create opportunities to draw
upon EAL students’ home languages. However, since they did not speak these
languages, they mainly used this strategy to make the EAL students feel welcome
49
SCHOOL APPROACHES TO THE EDUCATION OF EAL STUDENTS: LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT, SOCIAL INTEGRATION AND ACHIEVEMENT
and included rather than having an explicit pedagogical purpose. The opportunities
to relate to individuals’ home languages in lessons were quite limited in general
and the activities were mainly constrained within non-pedagogical settings, such
as register, greeting, and social events:
You know, they’ll be asking the children to answer the register in a
different language, you know, count in different languages, and if you’ve
got a new child arrive, “Well why not help us all count to ten in your first
language? We’d love to be able to count to ten in Tagalog [the language
of Indonesia] or answer the register in Mandarin,” you know, why not?
The children think that’s great fun as well. So various sorts of activities
are encouraged and promoted in the school.
(Mary Carrs, Principal, Brenton Primary School)
What is nice is we’ve started to use, so in assembly at Christmas time
they were saying Happy Christmas in their languages and we were
embracing that and getting them to kind of promote it.
(Lynne Upton, French Teacher, Windscott Academy)
Making reference to home cultures
Another commonly used strategy by the class teachers was making reference
to EAL students’ home cultures. Many teachers reported that they could not ‘do
much about languages’, since they did not speak them. However, they found it a lot
easier to make reference to EAL students’ home cultures, particularly in activities
involving history, environment, weather, festivals and religions:
… we’ll use the Bengali children a lot when we’re doing religion […]
so they would speak about their experiences and share pictures of
celebrations they’ve been to and things like that. Sometimes we do
invite, I think like around Eid and stuff they brought in pictures of their
fancy dresses and clothes to share with us. So we’ve kind of done
it in that way, but that’s more of a cultural celebration rather than a
language celebration.
(Rachel Knight, Class Teacher, Year 4, Brenton Primary School)
Yes, I think it is because usually if we do that it’s usually in a group
discussion. Just for instance when it snows and everyone here we come
to a standstill because we’ve got a little bit of snow, and then I might say
to one of my Lithuanian or Russian students, “This is nothing to what
you’re used to.” And they’ll say, “No,” and they’ll explain to the other
children that they have six foot of snow and they still manage to do this,
this, this and this.
(Alison Black, English Teacher, Windscott Academy)
The effectiveness of this strategy is reflected in the positive responses by the EAL
students who felt ‘good’, ‘happy’ and ‘proud’. A teacher from Windscott Academy
further explained why this strategy worked:
Well I think it’s... because of a divide socially sometimes it’s an
opportunity to let them show off what they know and have some
individuality, and to be anti, you know, encourage them to be proud
of who they are, and I think when it comes to language learning often
certainly in the socioeconomic context where we are now it’s not
particularly valued, so I think if children can see other students do it
who they may perceive as being inferior to them, if they can witness
them showing off a skill that they don’t have, that can grow.
(Lynne Upton, French Teacher, Windscott Academy)
50
SECTION 5: LANGUAGES, ATTITUDES AND PEDAGOGY
Overall, it is easier to create opportunities in lessons to make reference to the
EAL students’ cultures in arts and humanities subjects such as art, history and
geography where the main focus is the production and interpretation of meaning:
On their cultural background, definitely. I mean, if we’re talking about,
[…]gardening or what plants you know, or what plants do you grow and
how cold is it here, and how wet is it, and how dry it is in your country,
there’s tons of areas in which you would do that.
(Natalie Jones, EAL Teaching Assistant, Brenton Primary School)
Similarly, a science teacher reported that she had asked the EAL children to
comment on the ethical issues of stem cell research in their home country:
I like to keep a bearing of it because if you’re on about certain topical
things in science it’s nice to sometimes try and find out what’s going
on in their country around those topical things. But yeah, it’s time. If
you’re doing stem cell research or something really topical you can
sort of find out what the views around their... you know, because you
might be sat there saying all this stuff and they might have completely
different views and you’ve got to work on getting students to be tolerant
of one another in different views, so you know, if you’ve then got them
saying, “Oh well... “and then you get another kid going, “well...” but
you’ve got to work with them.
(Gill Clifford, Science Teacher, Windscott Academy)
5.4 Summary
This section provides a detailed analysis of the language issues in the two case
schools. In general, both schools have displayed strong characteristics of a
multilingual learning environment, featuring a wide range of languages and
multilingual practices. Despite the complex linguistic situation, however, there
seems to be no specific written language policy in the school regarding the use of
languages. Teachers seem to have their own classroom language policies which
are based on their knowledge and experience with EAL.
The multiplicity of practice in the classroom also reflects the students’, teachers’
and parents’ diverse attitudes towards languages. In general, teachers’ views are
mixed and vary considerably. In contrast, parents seem to all support the use of
English only in the school. Students have less strong views in comparison with
their teachers and parents. They tend to think that learning and using English is a
natural thing to do, but they are also aware of their cultural connection with their
home language.
In general, the teachers in Brenton Primary School and Windscott Academy draw
on similar general classroom strategies, although there is more emphasis on
subject teaching in the secondary school than in the primary school. There is also
considerable commonality in the strategies used by the class teachers to teach
EAL students. These include general classroom strategies with the purpose to
simplify the tasks and facilitate learning as well as specific strategies, such as
translation, peer support and making reference to home languages and cultures.
The variety of teaching strategies we have identified in the primary and secondary
settings reflects the presence of mixed abilities of EAL students as well as the
linguistic and cultural diversity in the school.
51
SCHOOL APPROACHES TO THE EDUCATION OF EAL STUDENTS: LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT, SOCIAL INTEGRATION AND ACHIEVEMENT
SECTION 3:
THE EAST OF ENGLAND PROJECT:
CONCEPTUAL AND RESEARCH FRAMEWORKS
The East of England is an interesting region to conduct research on
SECTION
EAL learners6:
because of the relative high numbers of migrants coming
to the region and, in particular, migrants from countries which have
most recently
joined the EDUCATIONAL
European Union (the so-called
A8 countries).
EAL
STUDENTS’
ACHIEVEMENT
Another characteristic of the area relates to the clusters of poverty and
disadvantage within some of its rural areas where migrants have moved
to and have been actively recruited to by employers. This rural context
is relatively under-researched with the result that the link between
migration and rural poverty and rural schools is not generally recognised.
Below we outline in more detail the demography of the region and the
migration characteristics.
52
SECTION 6: EAL STUDENTS’ EDUCATIONAL ACHIEVEMENT
The average achievement patterns of EAL pupils discussed in Section 5 reflect
and cover a wide diversity relating to prior knowledge of English, general linguistic
ability, school year entered at arrival, socio-economic background, the experiences
of different EAL support strategies developed by schools in England. They also
reflect different levels of parental and community support outside the school and
the various school experiences of EAL students prior to coming to England etc.
(see Hollingworth and Mansaray, 2012; Demie, 2013).
Our research explores the issue of educational achievement within the context
of the two case study schools. We identify the difficulty of assessing such
achievement in these contexts.
6.1 Achievement data for Brenton Primary School
Table 5 shows that the achievement of EAL pupils at KS 2 in the East of England
is slightly below the achievement of pupils whose first language is English (81%
and 85% respectively) and slightly below the overall EAL achievement for England.
EAL children at Brenton School achieved considerably below the average for
England and the East of England and with regard to their non-EAL counterparts.
However, the school data also showed that EAL students in Year 3 and Year 4 did
very well when compared to the overall cohort. EAL pupils achieved, for example,
significantly better results in reading in year 3 and 4 when compared to the overall
cohort. Maths results for year 3 and year 4 also reflected EAL pupils’ achievements
where they did significantly better than the overall cohort. These figures show that
the EAL student population reflects a very diverse cohort which is not captured
by EAL average figures on achievement. There were no school data available for
disadvantaged EAL students (i.e. EAL students who were on free school meals).
Table 5: Achievement at KS2 Level (2012/2013)20
Pupils whose first language
is English
England
East of England
Brenton Primary School
Pupils whose first language
is other than English
Number
of eligible
students
Percentage
achieving
level 4 or
above
Number
of eligible
students
Percentage
achieving
level 4 or
above
447,943
86
85,789
83
54,255
85
5,849
81
Over 35 pupils
Over 85%
slightly above
regional
and national
average
below 10
pupils
Over 65%
significantly
below
national
average
6.2 S
taff perceptions of EAL primary school students’
educational achievement
The general view towards the educational achievement of EAL children within
Brenton Primary School would appear to be that EAL children who arrive in the
first years of primary school will have reached similar attainment levels as their
non-EAL peers by the end of Key Stage 2.
20. To safeguard the anonymity of the school
concrete data have not been provided.
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SCHOOL APPROACHES TO THE EDUCATION OF EAL STUDENTS: LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT, SOCIAL INTEGRATION AND ACHIEVEMENT
I would say as a sort of rule of thumb, if a child arrives in Reception
… if they arrived when they are five and they start the school year
and they attend regularly, by the end of Key Stage 1, they should be
attaining at an average level for a child for whom English is not their
second language…….again, if they come to us at the beginning of Year
3 and attend regularly all the way through, we would expect them to be
national average in line with their English speaking peers by the end of
Year 6.
(Mary Carrs, Head Teacher, Brenton Primary School)
The above quote also suggests that those EAL children who enter primary school
after the first years of schooling are less likely to have caught up with their nonEAL counterparts by the end of primary school. It may be that different (additional)
strategies need to be developed for those children so that they can progress faster
and have a chance to catch up with their English speaking peers by the end of the
primary school. Some members of staff highlighted that some EAL pupils were
‘out-stripping some of the white British children in their achievements’ (Lisa Stone,
EAL coordinator, Brenton Primary School) which reflects some of the data outlined
above (see Year 3 and Year 4 cohort).
The quote below highlights the perception that EAL children who have lower levels
of English should not achieve differently to non-EAL children in maths:
I think we would always view a second language shouldn’t ever be a
disadvantage in mathematics, you should be able to overcome that very
quickly. So you would use translating tools, visual images, models,
to make sure the children very quickly learn their numbers […]. The
children who come here, perhaps even further up the school, I mean,
we’ve got four currently who are in Year 6 and they all arrived less than
two years ago and, apart from one who’s got some learning issues, the
others have all got Level 4 in maths.
(Mary Carrs, Head Teacher, Brenton Primary School)
A few teachers linked different generalised views on EAL students’ achievement
according to their families’ countries of origin. For example, there appeared
to be a strong belief that Chinese students displayed a very high ability within
numeracy, especially regarding calculations, when compared with their EAL
peers. Interestingly, these generalised impressions were not applied to other
EAL nationalities at the primary school which had 20 different countries
represented (see also Lee 1994 who criticised the generalised view regarding
Chinese achievement). For some, it was less a case of nationality and more one
of ensuring parental support for education. As Laura Nield also commented, the
ability to speak different home languages could be a positive force in children’s
development:
I just think it all interlinks with how much your family are involved in
your education, your attitude to learning, if you speak several different
languages….
(Laura Nield, EAL Teaching Assistant, Brenton Primary School)
Brenton teachers highlighted a range of relevant factors which they thought
influenced the achievement of EAL children including initial English language
ability, staff time for support, pupils’ personalities and abilities and support from
home. The experience of different education systems prior to coming to England
was also highlighted - for example, different education systems of many EU
countries (e.g. Germany, Italy, Poland) do not start primary schooling until the age
of six or seven. The quote below reflects awareness of this:
54
SECTION 6: EAL STUDENTS’ EDUCATIONAL ACHIEVEMENT
Polish children coming, new, into primary school, they arrive, they
come aged 7, they’ve had no formal education sometimes – same with
Eastern European countries where compulsory education starts at Year
7. And we’ve got kids in school from 4 or 5, so there’s a bit of catch-up to
do there.
(Gordon Fletcher, Local Authority EAL Advisor)
From the school’s perspective, differences between children and catering for such
differences should be valued. The headteacher saw diversity as an opportunity
rather than a barrier:
I think you’d just want to […], remain a school where we embrace all the
opportunities that you have to have... you know, learning about different
cultures and languages as part of your day to day experiences and […]
just to continue with the work we do about valuing difference and not
seeing it as a disadvantage.
(Mary Carrs, Headteacher, Brenton Primary School)
6.3 Support for EAL students at Brenton Primary School
Several Brenton Primary School staff members focused on EAL issues including
an EAL coordinator and an EAL specialist teaching assistant. The staff who could
offer support for teachers, parents and pupils were crucial with regard to the
achievement and monitoring of achievement of EAL children. In particular the oneto-one support with the EAL children in the classroom and outside the classroom
was vital for their progression.
It seemed that, in particular, newly arrived EAL children with low levels of English
received intense support in the first months to support their learning. It was not
clear to what extent this support was continued for EAL children who had achieved
a good level of English, however, needed to improve their Curriculum English. A
local authority EAL advisor speculated that EAL students often appear to progress
to the BICS (Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills)21 stage of learning but have
yet to achieve the CALP (Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency)22 . There is a
need to focus on their written grammar, comprehension and reading to ensure this
is achieved.
Within the classroom support strategies differed between the lower and the higher
year groups of primary school. In the lower year groups support was often based
around gestures, modeling and the use of pictures and the students were required
to carry out practical tasks and then learn from them. Higher up in the school
the tasks became more abstract and gestures and pictures were less efficient in
explaining the tasks and increasingly CALP English abilities (mentioned above)
were demanded.
Their curriculum English
isn’t developed and so they
underachieve in terms of
exam results etc.
(Victoria King, LA Manager)
Their curriculum English isn’t developed and so they underachieve in
terms of exam results etc.
(Victoria King, LA Manager)
Brenton Primary School devised an effective strategy to overcome this barrier
in the subject of numeracy. They had three students in Year 6 who had arrived in
the UK less than two years ago. When they were required to sit their Key Stage 2
numeracy test paper an interpreter was used to read out all the questions in their
home language; all three students achieved a Level 4.
21. BICS (Basic Interpersonal Communication
Skills) relates to the day-to-day language
which pupils use to interact with other
people.
22. CALP (Cognitive Academic Language
Proficiency ) refers to formal academic
communication (listening, speaking,
reading and writing) relating to specific
subject areas. Skills such as comparing,
classifying, synthesizing, evaluating, and
inferring are reflected in CALP (see http://
www.everythingesl.net/inservices/bics_
calp.php).
55
SCHOOL APPROACHES TO THE EDUCATION OF EAL STUDENTS: LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT, SOCIAL INTEGRATION AND ACHIEVEMENT
The engagement of the EAL students’ parents was perceived as being fairly good
although the staff felt that an increase in parental engagement with the school
would help to support children’s achievement. The school had recently introduced a
number of initiatives such as parent buddying and Parent Mail to enhance parents’
engagement with the school. As these strategies were newly implemented it was
too early to see whether they had an impact on engagement and achievement. From
the EAL children’s perspective, they felt that their achievement (learning) was good.
6.4 Achievement data for Windscott Academy
Table 6 shows that the achievement of EAL pupils at GCSE in the East of England
(of level 4 or above) is below the achievement of pupils whose first language is
English (53.7 % and 58.6 % respectively). Overall, the EAL achievement figures for
GCSE results in the East of England are below the average EAL achievement in
England (58% for EAL students). Table 6 shows that EAL children at the Windscott
Academy achieved below non-EAL children in their GCSEs (5+A*- C).The gap
between EAL and non-EAL students’ achievement becomes even more prominent
when comparing GCSE results which included English and maths. There were no
school achievement data available for disadvantaged EAL students (i.e. students
who were on free school meals).
Table 6: Achievements at GCSE Level (2012/13)
Pupils whose first language is
English
Pupils whose first language
is other than English
Number of
eligible students
Percentage
achieved
5+A*-C grades
Number of
eligible students
Percentage
achieved
5+A*-C grades
England
490,311
59.2
68,040
58.0
East of
England
58,572
58.6
4,864
53.7
over 200
Over 60%;
slightly above the
national average
Achievement
significantly
below national
average if
English and
maths are
included
(over 40%)
Windscott
Academy
Over 50%; in line
with the national
average
Between
40 and 50
Significantly
below if English
and Maths are
included
(over 15%)
6.5 Staff perceptions of EAL secondary school students’
educational achievement
The general perception held by the teachers at Windscott Academy was that EAL
students who entered with low levels of English struggled with the immediate
submersion into mainstream education. The majority felt the students would
benefit greatly by receiving intensive English lessons upon arrival. There was a
perception that EAL students with low levels of English who had been immediately
placed into mainstream secondary schooling withdrew for the first few months
or they became disruptive due to their lack of understanding within lessons. One
member of staff referred to the initial stage as ‘the silent six months’. Confidence
was highlighted as an important factor to enhance their language skills and overall
educational achievement and progression.
56
SECTION 6: EAL STUDENTS’ EDUCATIONAL ACHIEVEMENT
So I think that’s the main barrier, is their own self-confidence. But once
you get over that or try and get through to them that, actually, they’re
doing okay. It doesn’t matter, you know, how little they write: it’s their
second, third – some of them it’s their fifth language. You know, they’re
doing a good job. Then once that confidence starts to build, actually,
they pick it up really, really quickly and start really progressing very
well.
(Samantha Benton, EAL Lead Teacher, Windscott Academy)
The teaching staff interviewed believed that the majority of EAL students struggled
to achieve their full potential due to the literacy skills they possessed. Their
inability to evaluate, investigate or to create informal dialogue whilst answering
questions at GCSE level resulted in EAL students shying away from the more text
heavy subjects. The quote below highlights, in particular, low levels of achievement
for those EAL students who arrived with low levels of English in the final years of
secondary school.
We try with the pictures, we try and engage them and we try to simplify
but if that child is sitting in front of me, cannot write; they cannot
pass a humanities GCSE. So are we setting them up to fail by trying to
integrate them..? That’s the main concern. Now clearly, with strategies
we’ve got, discrete teaching of year 7, better career information,
advice and guidance, so that would mitigate sometimes us putting EAL
students on easier courses where there’s no exam, BTECs, BTEC sport,
you know, but that’s wrong because some of these youngsters are
super-bright.
(Susan Austin, Headteacher, Windscott Academy)
However, staff also recognised that some EAL students were achieving and
progressing very well:
But it is definitely the case that some groups of EAL students,
particularly girls, particularly at Key Stage 4, they want to thrive and
they are doing well. They are hungry for success and their progress is
outstripping [that of others].
(Susan Austin, Headteacher, Windscott Academy) (our addition)
I am proud of the Year 8 girl, because she was very, very quiet and
we’ve sort of bought her out of that and she now does role play and
she’ll... it’s like we’re reading a play at the moment and she’s not totally
confident but I gave her just a small couple of lines to read and she
read them out no problem, which she wouldn’t have done. And then
there was a Year 11 boy last year who worked really hard, really hard
to get his grade in English that he needed. So I was quite proud of
him as well. But I mean it’s just what I do, you work with them in the
classroom.
(Alison Black, English Teacher, Windscott Academy).
...Last year my Year 8, yeah, they all did really well and I’m teaching
one of them this year in Year 9 and this is where I have a thing about - I
think they’re placed into lower groups because of EAL and not actually
ability, because I have one student in there who’s now gone into a
higher group this year because he just shone last year, he really did,
yeah, and he was a hand up and if he didn’t quite know how to write
something he’d be, “Oh Miss,” you know, and we just really worked
through and he was really good, yeah and that was really nice.
(Gill Clifford, Science Teacher, Windscott Academy)
I am proud of the Year 8
girl, because she was very,
very quiet and we’ve sort
of bought her out of that
and she now does role
play and she’ll... it’s like
we’re reading a play at
the moment and she’s not
totally confident but I gave
her just a small couple of
lines to read and she read
them out no problem, which
she wouldn’t have done.
And then there was a Year
11 boy last year who worked
really hard, really hard to
get his grade in English that
he needed. So I was quite
proud of him as well. But
I mean it’s just what I do,
you work with them in the
classroom.
(Alison Black,
English Teacher,
Windscott Academy).
57
SCHOOL APPROACHES TO THE EDUCATION OF EAL STUDENTS: LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT, SOCIAL INTEGRATION AND ACHIEVEMENT
The following interview extract also reflects EAL students’ achievements in the
early years of secondary school:
Interviewer: .....Where do you find the EAL students sit in relation to attainment
compared to the whole school?
Alison Black: I don’t know. Again I can only speak for my classes and both of my EAL
are sort of in the middle of the band that they’re in. They’re in one of the lower bands
but they are sitting in the middle of the group, they’re not behind other students.
Interviewer: So they’re holding their own in the middle of that band?
Alison Black: Yeah.
Interviewer: In what way does your approach make a difference in the academic
attainment of EAL children? Does it help do you think?
Alison Black: Well I think so because as I say, Angelica, she has moved up sublevels
so...
Interviewer: Is there anything else that you do in the classroom that you feel that helps
their attainment? Do you want me to give you some examples?
Alison Black: It’s a small group so I can spend more time with her, which last year
when she first came over, helped, and with this group being a small group it means
that if I think she doesn’t understand anything I can actually work more one-to-one
with her than I could if I’d got a really big group.
Interviewer: How small is the group just out of interest?
Alison Black: 15.
The interviews with school staff revealed a range of opinions and knowledge
regarding the achievement of disadvantaged EAL students (defined by free school
meals). Some teachers seemed not to be aware of who was on free school
meals while other teachers knew but were not necessarily concerned about this
distinction since they did not perceive a difference between disadvantaged (EAL and
non-EAL) students and those who were not on free school meals (a view that is
now accepted by many in education).
No, free school meals or anything, so I wouldn’t really know socio
economically who is worse off and who isn’t worse off.
(Gill Clifford, Science Teacher, Windscott Academy)
No, I don’t. Not really. When I think about, if I, kind of, equate a couple
of students… So, for example, I teach bottom set Year 7 and there’s
quite a lot of children in there that you can see come from a deprived
background, both English and EAL, and no, some of them have been in
the country six years. No, I don’t see any difference.
(Samantha Banton, EAL Lead Teacher, Windscott Academy)
The range of teachers’ perceptions might reflect that achievement patterns are
quite different across the years and subjects and that there is no clear pattern
across the school when analysing the achievement data. Explanations for
achievement patterns in particular subjects were not readily available as two
teachers commented:
There is still a gap between those that access Pupil Premium, in both
those that have English as a first language and those that don’t. It’s one
of the areas where it depends on the subject area; it’s more marked in
some subject areas, interestingly …We were looking at this the other
day and in one year group for example, there’s an 8%, you know eight
point gap between, so say for example, I can’t remember what the
numbers are we’re talking about now, but 54% of students – of the
58
SECTION 6: EAL STUDENTS’ EDUCATIONAL ACHIEVEMENT
whole school cohort – were meeting their targets, but only 46 were
in science. But in English, they were on par. And that’s odd to me,
because you’d think, “Well why? Why is there a difference in English?”
One would assume if there were lots of students with additional needs,
literacy needs within the sort of Pupil Premium, that English would be
the one that’s different, so we’ve got to really drill down as to why in
certain areas.
(Alice Hale, Pastoral Care, Windscott Academy)
But if you ask me for a pattern across the school, there isn’t one. And
this is why we’re scratching our heads. But there is no pattern for any
other students either, because you could say, “If we got things right, our
provision for students with SEN, there would be a trend going across
the school that really they’re either doing Okay or they’re not”. And
some pattern would be replicated; it isn’t the case.[…] . I have sat with
department data and looked at, “Okay what’s the progress of students
with EAL like in DT?” And I look at it in Year 9 and I think, “Wow! Crikey!”
In fact I was doing this last night, that’s well below non-EAL students.
So I flipped through and I find year seven, that trend is totally reversed.
What’s that all about? In some students, the progress of students at the
end of Key Stage 4 is better than non-EAL students. But then you have
to look at the – that would be in the option blocks, so you then have to
be careful of how many people are actually doing that course, you know
the “small numbers are not significant” type argument. And at the
moment, there is no pattern. We’re scratching our heads; there’s no
pattern in the whole school.
(Susan Austin, Headeacher, Windscott Academy)
The two EAL students we interviewed had a fairly negative perception of their
educational achievement. Below is the perspective of Ludis, a student from Latvia:
Interviewer: How well do you think you’re doing at school overall?
Ludis: Mmmm, a little bit under average.
Interviewer: A little bit under average. Is that across subjects, or are there subjects
that you feel you do better at than others?
Ludis: Like some subjects … I’m very bad at.
Interviewer: Okay, and what are the subjects that you’re very bad at, for example?
Ludis: Basically maths, history, geography, stuff like that.
Interviewer: […] and what do you find difficult in those subjects?
Ludis: I don’t know.
Interviewer: And the subjects you do really well at?
Ludis: Construction, Spanish…
The quote below by the Advisory Teacher highlights the awareness and frustration
of EAL students regarding their potential achievement and the language barrier
they face.
I can remember teaching a Lithuanian boy, and in Year 11…He’d come
to us some time in Year 10. In Year 11, we were talking and he was very
frustrated, because he said, “I know the maths, I know the science – we
did this in Year 8 in Lithuania – but I don’t have the English to talk about
it the way I want to or to write about it the way I want to.
(Gordon Fletcher, Local Authority EAL Advisor)
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SCHOOL APPROACHES TO THE EDUCATION OF EAL STUDENTS: LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT, SOCIAL INTEGRATION AND ACHIEVEMENT
6.6 Support for EAL students at the secondary school
Staff at the Windscott Academy had many strategies in place to assist the
achievement and progression of EAL students including translated hand-outs,
display of key words, support outside the classroom; although not all teachers
applied the same (level of) support. The Academy had also recently undergone
significant restructuring to their inclusion facilities and they had employed
additional translators. One new strategy that had a clear impact on EAL students’
educational achievements was the introduction of intensive literacy lessons. This
programme included all students who were performing at Level 2 literacy. They
received five hours of extra tuition every week, in small group settings. They were
continuously assessed and the results show they have moved up from level 2 to
level 5 over a period of three months:
And we’ve been testing them on SATs papers, so it’s not as if they’ve
just had a wishy-washy test. They have sat down and actually done
a two hour assessment and it’s just fantastic. Some of them, their
reading comprehension, you know, they started at level 3 and they’re a
Level 5 in reading. And it’s just amazing.
(Samantha Benton, EAL Lead Teacher, Windscott Academy)
This initiative had been targeted at Key Stage 3 students, whose progress had
enabled them to move up sets. However, support for Key Stage 4 had not yet
been implemented. Recognition has been given to these promising results but
the Senior Management Team was still monitoring the data very carefully, as the
programme was still in its infancy.
The Head highlighted that since her arrival they had also changed the initial
assessment system (McGraw Hill) arguing that it was a ‘self-fulfilling prophecy’:
But if you’re talking to me about how – when they come in – in the
past, they have been tested using a programme called McGraw Hill,
which is designed to elicit or to support students with low levels of
literacy - English speaking students. So it was the case at [our school]
that they would be assessed using that tool and inevitably assigned to
a bottom set in English. Now the way the setting happened, was that
they would then be in the bottom sets for everything and I genuinely
feel that that’s very wrong. So we haven’t got it right yet but … we’ve
been able to test using Raven’s Matrices which as I understand it, and
I would by no means profess to know what the test is – but it’s more
a test of cognitive ability. So on the basis of that we have now begun
discrete English teaching and it is the case that some students have
been assigned a slightly higher set, but it is the case from next year
that if they need to be in bottom set in English for a while, they can be
in the top set in Maths, because we completely and utterly restructured
the curriculum to make that possible. Because otherwise, you end
up with saying to students where English is an additional language,
“You’re in the bottom set” and it’s, you’re a self-fulfilling prophecy,
which inevitably will lead to problems of unrest, mistrust, lack of
achievement, as you go up the years.
(Susan Austin, Headeacher, Windscott Academy)
Parental support
Staff at the Academy generally commented on low levels of EAL (and nonEAL) parental engagement; although some subject teachers (e.g. the science
teacher) viewed the engagement as being slightly better than other subject
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SECTION 6: EAL STUDENTS’ EDUCATIONAL ACHIEVEMENT
teachers. Language barriers and shift work were often referred to when staff
speculated about the reasons regarding low engagement. Teachers also made
assumptions about the interest of EAL students’ parents in education although
mixed perceptions were given whereby some teachers highlighted the aspirations
of some EAL parents and communities whilst other teachers assumed low
aspirations.
It’s not because they don’t want to be at home, it’s because they’ve got
a 12 hour shift in the factory that day, so they’re not there when their
child gets home or they don’t understand.
(Joanne York, History Teacher, Windscott Academy)
The Academy was aware that the area of EAL parental engagement was one that
had to be addressed in the future.
6.7 Summary
In general, there was a distinction between the primary and the secondary school
with regard to achievement. The primary school staff emphasised that EAL
children who arrived in the early years of primary school will achieve as well as
their non-EAL counterparts. The achievement figures of the primary school also
reflected that in some years (Year 4 and Year 5) EAL students achieved better
than the average for the overall cohort. These pockets of achievement might be
explained by EAL pupils’ backgrounds, their arrival time, the specific class context
etc. At the secondary school the general perception of teachers was that EAL
students did not reach their full potential which was also reflected in the GCSE
results and here, in particular, GCSE results which included English and Maths.
Again these figures represent an average achievement and staff highlighted that
some EAL students in specific year groups and subjects achieved well; although
no pattern could be identified with regard to EAL achievement data across the
years and subjects. However, overall the impression was that EAL students
were less likely to take GCSEs in the Humanities because they had not achieved
‘Curriculum English’ or what Cummins (1999) calls Cognitive Academic Language
Proficiency (CALP). The secondary school had implemented a literacy programme
for EAL students and had been encouraged by the results of its targeted approach
to improve the level of literacy for EAL students. However, this project was in its
infancy and the effects on overall achievement (e.g. the uptake of more GCSEs in
the Humanities by EAL students) will need to be monitored further.
Although both schools and, in particular, the primary school had a range of
strategies and some staff support available for EAL it was difficult to decipher
whether one specific strategy was more effective than another strategy regarding
achievement. All stakeholders agreed that EAL coordinators who provided one-toone or group tuition within and outside the classroom had a considerable impact
on achievement. Translating exams papers in mathematics and science also
seemed very effective to achieve the right level in these subjects.
Although both schools and,
in particular, the primary
school had a range of
strategies and some staff
support available for EAL
it was difficult to decipher
whether one specific
strategy was more effective
than another strategy
regarding achievement.
All stakeholders agreed
that EAL coordinators who
provided one-to-one or
group tuition within and
outside the classroom
had a considerable
impact on achievement.
Translating exams papers
in mathematics and science
also seemed very effective
to achieve the right level in
these subjects.
EAL achievement in the primary school was similar to non-EAL students if
students had arrived in the early years. An area which needs to be looked at is
how students who arrived later can be supported more effectively so that they
will reach their potential and reflect overall the non-EAL students’ achievement.
There was also a question to what extent students could be supported beyond the
BICS stage. Support seemed to cluster around new arrivals and intensive support
should be also provided for EAL students who have settled in so that they could
progress to the CALP stage.
The findings outlined above are preliminary and need to be tested in a larger scale
study to see whether they can be generalised beyond the two case studies.
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SECTION 3:
THE EAST OF ENGLAND PROJECT:
CONCEPTUAL AND RESEARCH FRAMEWORKS
SECTION
7:
The East of England
is an interesting region to conduct research on
EAL learners because of the relative high numbers of migrants coming
to the regionINTEGRATION
and, in particular, migrants from countries which have
SOCIAL
most recently joined the European Union (the so-called A8 countries).
Another characteristic of the area relates to the clusters of poverty and
disadvantage within some of its rural areas where migrants have moved
to and have been actively recruited to by employers. This rural context
is relatively under-researched with the result that the link between
migration and rural poverty and rural schools is not generally recognised.
Below we outline in more detail the demography of the region and the
migration characteristics.
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SECTION 7: SOCIAL INTEGRATION
This section examines perceptions of the social integration of EAL children in each
school, looking at each case individually. Social integration is understood here as
peer group relations and friendships in school.
7.1 Social integration in Brenton Primary School
Perceptions from staff and pupils in Brenton Primary School pointed towards a
positive integration of EAL children in school. Staff members insisted on the mix
of friendships between EAL and non-EAL children and this view was echoed by the
children themselves. The headteacher commented that there was ‘strong mixing’
and that children were ‘very well integrated’. Overall the view was that of good
friendships between EAL and non-EAL children, insisting on the fact that non-EAL
children tended to welcome EAL children no matter what the language. However,
this socialisation did not always extend outside school, as few children met up
outside school.
Conversely, in some cases, staff commented that children tended to group by
linguistic group. This was particularly the case for Polish children as there were
more of them in the school:
I think in some places across the school though, some of the Polish
boys have sort of got each other and they stick together. I think it really
depends. Obviously if someone’s in the same year group and they
speak the same language as you, I think then quite often they gravitate
towards that person. It’s not like they’ve separated themselves, they
have integrated with other children as well but they just primarily go
towards each other.
(Rachel Knight, Year 4 class teacher)
Teachers’ conceptualisation of social integration
Members of staff viewed school as playing an active role in ‘community cohesion’
(Mary Carrs, Headteacher) and helping overcome some of the tensions and
divisions experienced in the local community. Social integration was thus defined
in a wide sense, which encompassed social integration across the school and
within the classroom. This echoed the overall school ethos, defined as ‘accepting
difference’ by the EAL support teaching assistant.
The whole school ethos is about accepting difference, and we have such
a diverse range of children in this school, that normally works quite
well in school.
(Natalie Jones, EAL Specialist Teaching Assistant, Brenton Primary School)
This view was carried through in the classroom with a focus on ‘celebrating
differences’ and ‘developing empathy’ towards others (Rachel Knight, Year 4 class
teacher, Brenton Primary School).
Social integration was thus conceptualised as part of the overall inclusive ethos
of the school, which was promoted both in and outside the classroom and
encompassed both EAL and non-EAL children. As part of this ethos, as voiced
by the headteacher, speaking another language was promoted as an asset,
something to be proud of, that made children feel valued in the classroom and the
school.
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However, the EAL support assistant acknowledged that the positive social
integration in the school ‘might not carry through’ outside. She gave an example of
how two girls who were close friends in school, could not meet outside of school
and ended up having to Skype each other:
I heard of one pair of friends who, one was a Bangladeshi girl and one
was a white kid and they were friends but they come from very different
families, but they Skype each other. They live like two blocks away
and they Skype each other! They’re best mates in school, so they’re
obviously not physically getting together when they’re home! So I think
in school we have a very good attitude towards everyone mixing up. It
might not carry through!
(Natalie Jones, EAL Specialist Teaching Assistant, Brenton Primary School)
School strategies and effectiveness
Members of staff perceived school as playing an active role in promoting social
integration for EAL children. This role was viewed by Mary Carrs, Headteacher,
Brenton Primary School as providing continuity between the classroom and the
whole school. Specific strategies to help the integration of EAL children were a
‘buddy system’, which was put into place as soon as a child with no or little English
entered the school. The aim of the ‘buddy system’ was to provide ‘instant friends’
(Natalie Jones, EAL Specialist Teaching Assistant, Brenton Primary School).
This included seating newly arrived children next to ‘buddies’ who could support
them in the classroom, as well as a peer buddy system for the playground. These
strategies were defined as ‘very much about making sure that they’re starting to
make friends’ (Natalie Jones, EAL Specialist Teaching Assistant, Brenton Primary
School).
A ‘young interpreters’ scheme was also organised in the school, under the
coordination of the EAL support assistant. The aim of the young interpreters was
to provide linguistic support for newly arrived children, both in the classroom and
outside the classroom, as well as provide friendship and peer support. In some
cases, children were buddied up with a young interpreter, in other cases the young
interpreter would come into the classroom to help a child, or only help during
playtime and lunchtime.
For some children, the young interpreter scheme was the first step in ensuring the
integration of a newly arrived child within peer and friendship groups.
Yeah, then I decided to sort of sit her, sit Joanna when she first came
with friends of Neera who’s our young interpreter. So then she got to
know the rest of Neera’s social group as well. So then now there’s like
four or five of them that all play together. Because I kind of moved them
around so they’re in different… so sat next to Miranda who’s one of the
other girls and in another lesson she was sat next to Kathy who’s one of
the other girls and, they all play together so it’s just like she then fitted
into that social group.
(Rachel Knight, Year 4 class teacher, Brenton Primary School)
Another strategy was to provide newly-arrived children with a ‘diagram’ designed
by the whole class, with a drawing of each child and their name. This was meant to
help newly-arrived children get familiar with their class and feel welcomed.
These strategies were deemed very effective by members of staff, who considered
they played an important role in the social integration of newly-arrived and EAL
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SECTION 7: SOCIAL INTEGRATION
children in school, even though the role of the school was seen to be a balance
between intervention and ‘laissez-faire’:
I think it’s the same with friendship groups, because obviously you can’t
force children to get on if they’re not going to get on.
(Rachel Knight, Year 4 class teacher, Brenton Primary School)
Such strategies, as mentioned earlier, were part of a wider school ethos of
inclusion. As such, other non-specific, whole school strategies were also viewed
as having an impact on the positive social integration of the school.
Non-targeted strategies and their impact
Members of staff insisted on the fact that the whole school cohesive and
inclusive ethos participated in promoting social integration of EAL children. The
headteacher pointed out the role of class organisation, which were of mixed ability
and reorganised every year, in promoting social integration for all children:
So mixed ability classes. We remix our classes every year so they
don’t just move up as a class, they’re remixed every year into two
new classes. That definitely encourages social integration as well as
rebalancing of the classes.
(Mary Carrs, Headteacher, Brenton Primary School)
Seating arrangements were also put forward as a way of encouraging social
integration, by making sure EAL children were sat next to ‘caring children’ (Rachel
Knight, Year 4 class teacher, Brenton Primary School). However, this was not
always the case, as reported by the Lucy Thornton, a teaching assistant:
Sit with him, yes. Quite difficult really because I am also, you’re not just
sitting with that one child, you’ve also got another three, four children
on the table who may have different language, I mean I sit on the
table with two from Lithuania, one from Poland and two special needs
children
(Lucy Thornton, Teaching Assistant, Brenton Primary School)
The cohesive school ethos was also promoted in specific curriculum areas, such
as Personal Social Citizenship and Health Education programmes:
Our Personal, Social, Citizenship and Health Education programme
promotes social cohesion. That’s a very important part of the
curriculum, to make sure the skills are covered and how we problem
solve, units about, you know, responsibility, relationship, anti bullying,
all those are part of the curriculum which promotes complete
integration.
(Mary Carrs, Headteacher, Brenton Primary School)
This inclusive ethos was echoed in particular strategies to promote
positive play such as play leaders in playground. Their aim was to
‘promote positive interaction between everybody’ and ‘involve all the
children’
(Mary Carrs, Headteacher, Brenton Primary School).
Attitudes towards the use and promotion of EAL children’s L1 was also perceived
as a way to favour social integration. This built on developing the idea of speaking
other languages as an asset rather than a ‘deficit’ and recognising the skills of
EAL children who are learning English as an additional language.
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SCHOOL APPROACHES TO THE EDUCATION OF EAL STUDENTS: LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT, SOCIAL INTEGRATION AND ACHIEVEMENT
I suppose make a thing of how great it is that this child’s got another
language and it’s this new experience.
(Rachel Knight, Year 4 Class Teacher, Brenton Primary School)
This was perceived as giving EAL children ‘extra kudos’ (EAL support assistant),
as they could then be seen as the ‘literacy ninjas of the classroom’ (Natalie Jones,
EAL Specialist Teaching Assistant, Brenton Primary School), which could favour
social integration.
The pastoral side of teaching was put forward as having a positive effect on the
social integration of non-EAL children. Non-specific lessons on including people
who are different were also offered as examples of favouring social integration,
without singling out a specific child. This was seen as a way of developing empathy,
which could help with social integration.
But, I didn’t say like this is because we’ve got a new student arriving. I
just kind of did it in a sort of… we just talked more generally about how
would you feel if you were in a new place, and then kind of just said, “Oh
and she’s new and she doesn’t speak our language, she might be finding
it quite difficult.”
(Rachel Knight, Year 4 Class Teacher, Brenton Primary School)
The views of pupils
EAL pupils comments during interviews supported the idea of positive social
integration and mixed EAL/non-EAL friendships, even though these were at times
limited to the school and did not happen much outside school. In some cases,
children would socialise in the park outside school but not go to each other’s
houses. Other children tended to socialise exclusively with pupils from the same
linguistic group outside school. This, however, was not the case for all EAL
children.
Children did not perceive the school or teachers as playing an active part in their
socialisation in school. They viewed their peers as much more important in the
way they had managed to make friends and feel part of the school. In particular,
friendships with individual children to start with were pointed out as helping feel
more confident in school, finding their way around and then feeling included within
wider friendship groups.
Interviewer: Yeah, and how did you make friends when you first arrived in October,
how did you make your friends? How are you friends with Francesca and Nadwa?
Joanna (Polish EAL pupil): Just talking with her and Francesca have got like friend
and then he told me he can be your friend, and then I got friend.
These individual friendships were considered easier in the early days as children
found it hard to understand their English speaking peers and felt embarrassed to
admit they could not understand them. Small friendship groups were perceived as
more helpful as they allowed the use of hand gestures, miming and the use of the
pictures provided in the young interpreters scheme. Asking for help with English
and understanding was pointed out as a way of making friends Joanna, a Polish
EAL child commented:
Just when you don’t know something, just go to someone and say I don’t
understand and then when they are helping, make friends.
(Joanna, Polish EAL pupil, Brenton Primary school)
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These views reflect the positive impact of the buddying up system and providing
‘instant friends’ for newly arrived children.
Pupils who had received the support of a child from the same linguistic
background also insisted on the positive impact this had in helping them integrate
in school and then join in wider friendship groups.
Irena (Lithuanian EAL pupil): Like the boy that came from Lithuania, he doesn’t know
English, so I got to translate for him.
Interviewer: How easy do you think it is to make new friends, when you first arrived at
school, what do you think? Was it easy?
Tomek: No.
Interviewer: No? What was difficult about it? Why was it difficult?
Tomek: Because I didn’t know how to make friends in English.
Interviewer: Really? That must have been difficult, so what did you do?
Tomek: I asked Kamil [Polish boy].
In relation to this, not having a child from the same linguistic background was seen
as a difficulty for some pupils:
A bit ... a bit surprised and because I know there’s a lot of people who
are from Bulgaria here but there’s no-one in the school. It’s really
hard to learn English because there is no-one to help you like in the
Bulgarian language.
(Petia, Bulgarian EAL pupil, Brenton Primary School)
However, the language barrier was also seen as problematic by some pupils, who
felt it prevented them from joining in. This was the case for Petia and Tomek:
Petia (Bulgarian EAL pupil):Yeah. And sometimes that’s a bit hard because your
friends are speaking but you can’t get in the conversation because you don’t know
[English].
Interviewer: When you arrived in this school and you didn’t speak English, what did
you find really difficult? Can you remember that?
Tomek (Polish EAL pupil): To speak with my friends.
Sitting next to supportive friends was also viewed as a way to feel more
comfortable in the class and get to know other children quickly.
Areas for development
One area that was seen to hold potential for developing further social integration
was reaching out towards parents in this primary school. A parent buddying
system had been set up by the Parent’s Association but it was not as successful
as hoped as few parents got involved. It did, however, provide a form of support
both personal and linguistic for newly-arrived families with no or little English
(Niki Murray, parent governor, Brenton Primary School) and strengthening ‘links
between home and school’ (Mary Carrs, Headteacher, Brenton Primary School), as
well as encouraging cohesion across the school by ‘opting in’ to different cultural
practices (Natalie Jones, EAL Specialist Teaching Assistant, Brenton Primary
School).
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7.2 Social integration in Windscott Academy
The overall view on social integration in Windscott Academy pointed to some lines
of tension between students, both in and outside the classroom. These lines of
tension included difficulties for newly arrived, non-English speaking students to
integrate within the mainstream because of language barriers.
As a result, some students experienced strong feelings of isolation upon arrival
in the school. Friendship groups tended, in a first instance, to be organised along
national/linguistic backgrounds. However, it was not clear whether this was only
the case for newly-arrived students. Some teachers and students insisted on the
mix of social relations in general between EAL and non-EAL students, stressing
that there was ‘no particular tension’ (Alice, Pastoral Care) whilst others pointed
to more linguistically segregated groups (Tracey Page, Drama Teacher and Aron
Letwick PE Teacher).
The tendency for students to group according to linguistic background was
presented in some cases as a problem for social integration, as noted by the
teacher below:
Some groups of EAL students who naturally come together […] I don’t
think that’s necessarily a bad thing but I think it can cause a bit of
pressure for social integration.
(Joanne York, History Teacher)
Some teachers noted that there were tensions between different groups of EAL
students. In particular, tensions were noted between Polish and Lithuanian
speaking students (Aron Letwick, PE Teacher), expressed through antagonism
between the groups and swearing in the respective languages.
In the classroom, issues linked to social integration were dependent
on the class composition. In particular, the issues were associated with
the concentration of a large number of non-English speaking students
in a class. This led to difficulties in terms of behaviour management, in
particular swearing in the classroom, which led to a feeling of lack of
control and caused difficulties for teaching
(Tracey Page, Drama Teacher).
From the viewpoint of the students that were interviewed, it appeared that it was
easy to make friends. One student, however, insisted on how falling with the wrong
crowd early in his school years had a negative impact on his school career. This
student felt he would be more focused and successful at school if he could be
taught in isolation to avoid ‘messing about’ (Ludis, Latvian EAL student).
Teachers’ conceptualisation of social integration in school
The Senior Management Team and teachers’ overall views and conceptualisation
of social integration in school pointed toward developing a ‘cohesive school’ (Ben
Peacock, School Governor).
This ethos of cohesion and inclusion built on making students feel they belonged
to the school, helping them feel comfortable and building their confidence. Social
integration was conceptualised at different levels by staff. For some teachers,
social integration was understood as integrating students in the classroom,
helping them access learning and the curriculum.
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SECTION 7: SOCIAL INTEGRATION
Some saw social integration as mainly taking place outside the classroom,
especially during lunch break when teachers could note whether some children
were excluded or whether students from the same linguistic background grouped
together. The school ethos of not having a separate staff room and of members of
staff eating in the same place as students helped develop this awareness of social
integration outside the classroom. In addition, clubs and sport groups were seen as
important settings for social integration of EAL students (Aron Letwick, PE Teacher
and Ben Peacock, School Governor).
Other teachers expressed a wider conception of social integration, which stretched
outside school. This in particular included parents, and the need to develop more
communication and stronger relationships with parents of EAL students (Ben
Peacock, School Governor). The overall view, however, was that social integration
in the school did not reflect issues around social integration outside school, which
were depicted as more difficult and problematic (Alice Hale, Pastoral Care). This
view was expressed by teachers and one student, who mentioned being the victim
of racist incidents outside school. Few of the school’s staff comments addressed
wider issues of social integration in society, and school was rarely presented
as a vector of social integration that could have an impact on integration in the
community. One teacher, however, stressed the importance of ‘learning English in
an English speaking country’ (Tracey Page, Drama Teacher). The view was more
in terms of assimilation into the country from an economic perspective, along the
lines of needing English to get jobs in England.
I don’t think it’s always
beneficial to be always
labelling EAL, EAL, EAL […]
the point is that you want to
be integrating them into a
group. […] I think if you’re
always kind of isolating
that point and segregating
it doesn’t do anything for
social cohesion
(Lynne Upton,
French Teacher).
There was also ambivalence about the desired level of intervention of the school
in promoting social integration. In the ‘restricted’ view of social integration,
defined as integrating in the classroom, teaching strategies were considered
important in promoting this integration, to construct a positive and inclusive
learning environment, and cater to the linguistic need of different students. In the
‘extended’ view however, the role of school was less clearly defined and sometimes
contested. One teacher noted that labeling EAL children was in itself counterproductive for social integration:
I don’t think it’s always beneficial to be always labelling EAL, EAL, EAL
[…] the point is that you want to be integrating them into a group. […]
I think if you’re always kind of isolating that point and segregating it
doesn’t do anything for social cohesion
(Lynne Upton, French Teacher).
Another teacher insisted on the fact that teachers could encourage social
integration in the classroom, but admitted it was more difficult outside: ‘so they’re
integrated almost in a classroom but we can’t control them, we can’t control their
lives’ (Joanne York, History Teacher).
School strategies and effectiveness
This ambivalence around the role of school in promoting social integration in the
wider sense was reflected in the lack of consensus in staff’s perception about
school strategies and their effectiveness. The overall school ethos of inclusion and
acceptance of diversity and difference was promoted in school assemblies. This
ethos was echoed by teachers who insisted on ‘embracing their [EAL students]
opinions’ (Lynne Upton, MFL Teacher). However, there was no consensus amongst
staff on what constituted a ‘strategy’ to help with the social integration of EAL
children within the school. For some, there were no particular strategies for the
social integration of students and support was ‘generic’ (Alison Black, English
Teacher). For senior management however, forms of pastoral support, one-on-one
conversations with children were put forward as the main strategies towards social
integration of EAL students.
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For some members of staff, in particular the teachers, ‘buddying up’ in the
classroom and the ‘young interpreters’ scheme were the main strategies, and
these were deemed fairly effective. These strategies, however, were more geared
towards language support than social integration, which appeared to be more of a
‘side effect’. Views differed also when it came to the effectiveness of these various
strategies. For teachers, buddying up in the classroom was viewed as an effective
classroom strategy to help develop English language learning, to access the
curriculum and understand lessons. The young interpreter’s scheme was viewed
as important and effective, both ‘language to language’ and ‘year group to year
group’ (Samantha Benton, EAL Lead Teacher).
However, although teachers recognised the positive impact this had on learning
and might leave students less isolated, they were also ambivalent about the
effectiveness in terms of social integration. For one teacher buddying up was
interpreted as ‘forcing them to make friends’ (Joanne York, History Teacher),
for others it meant that students from the same linguistic background would
then group together, and as discussed above, this was not equated to ‘social
integration’. All teachers recognised the impact of learning English on social
integration. As summarised by this teacher’s comments:
The ones that can speak fluent English are fully integrated members of
the school, but the ones that don’t speak as fluent English will tend to
stay with their own cultural and social groupings
(Gill Clifford, Science Teacher).
The school governor (Ben Peacock), pastoral care coordinator (Alice Hale) and
the PE teacher (Aron Letwick) insisted on the role of sport in favouring social
integration. This, however, carried its own limitations. For the school governor
this only worked in the favour of students who liked to take part in sports, and
other initiatives would be necessary to benefit all students. The PE teacher noted
that some sport activities were favoured by a certain linguistic/national group, in
particular basketball which was mainly practised by Lithuanians, which created
forms of national/linguistic segregation.
However, there was no clear guidance on what other groups or clubs could help
students. The idea of an ‘international’ club was rejected on the basis that it ran the
risk of creating segregated groups such as a ‘Polish club’.
Non-specific strategies and their impact
Senior management staff and teachers also viewed strategies that were not
directly targeted at encouraging social integration as having an impact on the
social integration of EAL children. Teachers highlighted the ways in which
classroom organisation and strategies had an impact on social integration.
Classroom composition and the ratio of EAL/non-EAL children was seen to play an
important part in encouraging or dissuading social integration. According to Tracey
Page, the drama teacher, large numbers of EAL children concentrated in a class
created linguistic segregation and caused disruption in the terms of behaviour
which went against positive social integration. Events such as swearing, singling
others out were seen to occur if behaviour management was difficult.
Seating plans were also considered to play a role in promoting social integration.
For some teachers, this meant placing children in non-linguistic groups to
encourage mixing and avoid grouping through common language. For other
teachers, the system of buddying up an EAL student with another EAL student
from the same linguistic background was considered helpful in that, as argued by
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the science teacher, it allowed the newly-arrived student to feel less isolated and
build confidence socially, by allowing a more ‘established’ EAL student to support
a newly arrived student. This came both from being allocated a ‘friend’ and from
being able to access the lesson more easily. However, this strategy was not always
successful, and teachers and students mentioned some form of resistance to
being ‘associated to a new arrival’ (Lynne Upton, French Teacher).
For others, seating plans were a way of ensuring mixing in the classroom and
avoiding linguistically segregated groups. The use of clear instructions was
also seen as a way of encouraging social integration. Aron Letwick, the PE
teacher, explained how he used different levels of language complexity when
communicating instructions, which encouraged non-EAL children to explain
details to EAL children. In his view this encouraged cooperation and thus social
integration.
Beliefs about social integration and the use
of home language (L1)
Beliefs about the use of students L1 (home language) in school and the classroom
was also linked to social integration, although views were far from consensual in
that respect.
As mentioned earlier, for one teacher, speaking English only was central to
integration in an English school (Tracey Page, Drama Teacher). For others
speaking in the students’ L1 was acceptable as long as it did not make others
uncomfortable: ‘speak your own language but do not make others uncomfortable
and allow joining in’ ( Aron Letwick, PE Teacher).
Some teachers supported the use of L1 as a strategy to build confidence and help
with social integration. This was expressed by Lynne Upton, the French teacher:
Because of a divide socially, sometimes it’s an opportunity to let them
show off what they know and have some individuality […] if children
can see other students do it [speak another language] who they may
perceive as being inferior to them, if they can witness them showing off
a skill that they don’t have, they can grow.
(Lynne Upton, French Teacher)
The views of students
In Windscott, the EAL students that were interviewed mentioned having friends
from the same linguistic background as well as English friends. However, both
students spoke to their friends predominantly in English. Juris a Latvian EAL pupil
said it was because he felt more comfortable speaking English.
Juris: I’m friends with a couple of Latvians in the school.
Interviewer: Okay. What is it like to be in a classroom where most of the children don’t
speak Latvian?
Juris: Normal. It’s like, I’m better at English anyway, so…
(…)
Juris: If anything, I’m like, like some of my best friends are English and I’m actually
better at English than them (Juris, Latvian EAL student, Windscott Academy)
Interviewer: Okay, and with your Latvian friends, do you ever speak in Latvian?
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Ludis: Mostly English.
When recalling his initial experience of arriving in an English speaking school, one
student insisted on the benefits of having a friend who spoke the same language.
Interviewer: Who helped you the most?
Ludis: My friend. He was Latvian as well, and he speaks good English.
Interviewer: Okay, so did you sit with him in the class?
Ludis: Yeah.
Interviewer: And how would he help you?
Ludis: He like helped me with the words and stuff.
However, for another student, initial language difficulties upon arrival, in primary
school, were brought up as a reason for ‘falling with the wrong crowd’ and
developing anti-school attitudes.
Basically there was people who basically I kept on messing about with
them in primary, so basically in a way they’ve stopped my education,
because like I mess about every time in lesson, only if I like a lesson
[…] I don’t mess about in them.
(Juris, Latvian EAL student, Windscott Academy)
Discriminatory incidents were mentioned in relation to school, and the student’s
view was that school intervention was not all that effective.
Interviewer: And what about in school, have these kind of racist incidents happened in
school as well?
Juris: Sometimes, just like, if like someone says something racist, I can get my foreign
friends.
Juris: And we just […] basically just argue with them.
Interviewer: Really. And has that happened to your friends, people have said things to
your friends?
Juris: Yeah.
Interviewer: What kind of things do they say?
Juris: Just like, you’re stupid, whatever country you’re from, go back to your own
country, and stuff like that.
Interviewer: And what happens if it’s in school, do the teachers do something about it
or?
Juris: Yeah, they try to, but it don’t really work. […]Basically they put, they used to put, I
think they used to put posters up about racism and stuff like that.
Interviewer: Okay, and you feel that didn’t work very well?
Juris: No.
Interviewer: Why not? Why do you think it didn’t work?
Juris: Because like people will still do it, because like, if we’re like saying bad stuff,
you know when you argue, yeah, you try to say bad stuff to say to […] And if I’m saying
that stuff, they all just say go back to your own country […] Then I just go up to them
and say fight me.
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SECTION 7: SOCIAL INTEGRATION
The same student mentioned the experience of discrimination outside school,
which points to some of the tensions and issues surrounding social integration in
that community:
And like I was in a park […] , and this boy was keeping, kept calling me
a foreigner, like Latvians are stupid […]
(Juris, Latvian student, Windscott Academy)
7.3 Summary
Brenton Primary School had developed some effective strategies to promote
successful integration in the school. These strategies built on an ethos of inclusion
and focused on ensuring that newly arrived children established friendships early
on and received a range of support by teachers, staff and peers in the classroom
and in the playground.
However, these strategies were mainly targeted at the initial period of arrival, and
there was less information about the way in which this integration was monitored
and supported later on. The social integration also did not seem to always carry on
outside the school, where friendships tended to be more restricted to friends from
the same linguistic community. There were, however, exceptions to this.
Overall, the social
integration of EAL pupils
in the primary school
appeared to be successful
in that all EAL pupils
interviewed felt they
had made friends in the
school. In addition, these
friends were presented as
one of the main sources
of support in learning
English.
Overall, the social integration of EAL pupils in the primary school appeared to
be successful in that all EAL pupils interviewed felt they had made friends in the
school. In addition, these friends were presented as one of the main sources of
support in learning English.
The success of social integration for children in the primary school needs to be
understood within the distinct characteristics of primary schools, the fact that
children are in one class with one or two teachers only, its size which allowed a
more family like atmosphere, the insistence on pastoral care at that age and the
limited number of EAL pupils in the school, which encouraged making friends with
children who did not share the same linguistic background.
In Windscott Academy the view of social integration was more fragmented. This
fragmentation was apparent for teachers and staff through the fact that there
were linguistic groups across the school and tensions between different national/
linguistic groups as well. In addition, teachers insisted on the fact that many
newly-arrived students experienced feelings of loneliness and isolation.
The view of what constituted social integration was also fragmentary. For some
social integration was what happened in the classroom, for others it was outside
the classroom. The overall view, however, was that social integration in the school
was more positive than what happened in the wider community. This view was
contradicted, to some extent, by the comment of one student about xenophobic
incidents in school.
The fragmentation was also apparent in the lack of consensus about what should
be done to encourage social integration for EAL students in school. For some the
very fact of labeling students as EAL went against social integration, for others
there were doubts about the level of intervention the school should adopt to
promote friendships. Finally the grouping of children by linguistic background was
interpreted in different ways, it was seen as a source of confidence for students by
some teachers and a problem by others.
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SCHOOL APPROACHES TO THE EDUCATION OF EAL STUDENTS: LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT, SOCIAL INTEGRATION AND ACHIEVEMENT
Overall, the view that emerged was that there were issues and tensions around
social integration both in the classroom and in the school at large. Whilst the
schools were active in developing certain strategies to help promote cohesion
and integration, there were still contradictions and uncertainties. This can also be
attributed to the nature of secondary schools, in which students move from one
lesson to another, and the focus of the teacher cannot be on the same level of
pastoral care as in primary schools.
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COMMUNICATION STRUCTURES AND PROCESSES
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SCHOOL APPROACHES TO THE EDUCATION OF EAL STUDENTS: LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT, SOCIAL INTEGRATION AND ACHIEVEMENT
The insight into communication structures and processes regarding EAL is an
important factor for the understanding of the social integration, educational
achievement and the language development of EAL pupils. This section addresses
the following questions: how is communication about different aspects of EAL
organised within the schools? How do teachers, senior management and non-EAL
pupils perceive their communication with EAL pupils23 and their parents and vice
versa24? Communication structures and processes between the two schools and
their local communities are also addressed.
8.1 Formal and informal communication structures
regarding EAL
A number of formal communication structures and processes which dealt
specifically with EAL issues existed in both case study schools and facilitated
the social integration, achievement and language development of EAL pupils.
Both schools identified staff who specifically dealt with EAL issues. The primary
school employed an EAL coordinator and an EAL specialist teaching assistant. The
secondary school did not have an EAL coordinator; instead the person responsible
for pastoral care, an EAL-lead teacher (who was also a history teacher) and two
bilingual teaching assistants were dealing with EAL issues at the school; as the
school had over 200 students this was not an ideal situation with regard to EAL
support. These members of staff were central points of communication regarding
EAL issues and served as a communication and information hub for EAL pupils,
EAL parents, teachers and senior management as reflected, for example, in the
quote below:
…but since [the EAL specialist teaching assistant] has been in the
school and that is her job it’s much better, because you can go to her
and she will say, well you know we ought to do this or we ought to
do that, which is fantastic. We do have TAs (teaching assistants) who
aren’t familiar with all of the EAL, you do need the guidance. It’s very
important that you have guidance from somebody who knows what they
are doing.
(Lucy Thornton, EAL Coordinator, Brenton Primary School)
In Brenton Primary School, the EAL coordinator was responsible for the EAL
students’ induction into the school and the administrative side of EAL while the
main responsibility of the EAL specialist teaching assistant was to help newly
arrived pupils settle in and provide one-to-one support for those who were at the
early stages of learning English. The EAL specialist teaching assistant assisted
children in the classroom and organised a ‘booster’ group for those children who
were advanced learners of English which took place after school. There was a
small budget for EAL which for example, was used to buy a tablet so that EAL staff
could use Google Translate and show pictures to children who were at the early
stages of learning English. The EAL Specialist Teaching Assistant thought that
pictures were, in particular, effective in learning English:
Sometimes those translation tools are not nearly as good as a picture,
because you can talk about the picture, so I find that very useful.
(Laura Neild, EAL Specialist Teaching Assistant, Brenton Primary School)
23. Please see section 5 for linguistic issues
relating to communication.
24. Perceptions of non-EAL students at
secondary school will be developed further
by the research team in the next report
(2014/2015) for the Bell Foundation.
76
The EAL Lead Teacher at Windscott Academy started in 2011 and was initially
‘a go-to person if people were unsure what was the best avenue or strategy to
use in class and, kind of, community cohesion’ (Samantha Benton, EAL Lead
Teacher, Windscott Academy). By 2013 her role had developed further and she
said that she had much more a ‘head of department role’ dealing with the setting
up of EAL Programmes including assessment and achievement data analysis.
She emphasised that it is now ‘very much more progress led rather than strategy
SECTION 8: COMMUNICATION STRUCTURES AND PROCESSES
led’. Her aim was to move all EAL students up to level 4 in English (or above). The
secondary school had a separate room where one-to-one tuition and the Enhanced
Provision for EAL students took place.
Both schools had a range of activities and strategies which supported the EAL
communication process outlined in the table below:
Table 7: Activities and strategies which support the EAL
communication process
Communication
Detail
An introductory meeting with EAL pupils (and
their parents) and senior management (including
normally the principal and the EAL coordinator/
staff responsible for Pastoral Care) was conducted
in both schools.
EAL pupils ⇔
senior management team
Regular meetings were organised with EAL
staff and EAL students within and outside the
classroom (primary school). The secondary school
had regular meetings with EAL staff and EAL
pupils outside the classroom.
Both schools organised regular meetings to
monitor the progress of EAL pupils.
Both schools have a buddy system between nonEAL and EAL pupils.
EAL pupils ⇔ non-EAL pupils
A selection of non-EAL children (or EAL children
who had been in the country longer term) could
participate in a young interpreters training
(primary and secondary school).
An introductory meeting with EAL pupils (and
their parents) and senior management (including
normally the principal and the EAL coordinator)
was conducted in both schools.
Parent mail was introduced at the primary school
in Sep 2013.
EAL students’ parents ⇔
Teachers and senior management
team
A comments box for parents existed in the foyer
for parents (primary school).
A feedback site for parents existed on the school
website (primary; in different languages?).
A questionnaire was sent to EAL and non-EAL
students’ parents about the way they would like to
communicate with the school (primary school).
Windscott Academy had a teaching assistant who
could speak several languages of the A8 countries
and whose role was to facilitate communication
between the school and these parents.
EAL students’ parents ⇔
EAL students’ parents
(EAL) ‘parent buddies’ were introduced in the
primary school whereby parent volunteers
supported the communication with new EAL
students’ parents.
EAL students’ parents ⇔
non-EAL students’ parents
A parent (EAL and non-EAL) group was initiated in
the primary school.
Teachers ⇔
senior management team
A survey amongst teachers about communication
with EAL and non-EAL pupils and parents was
conducted in the primary school.
New staff ⇔
senior management team
A specific induction regarding EAL took place
for new staff (delivered by EAL coordinator)
addressing topics such as communication with
EAL pupils and parents and stereotyping (primary
school)
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Table 7 reflects a range of formal structures. Brenton Primary School, in particular,
had a wide variety of strategies to link up EAL students’ parents, teachers and
senior management. They also started initiatives to bring together (formally) EAL
and non-EAL students’ parents. Both schools had introductory meetings with EAL
students and their parents. While useful information was gathered during the
meeting the interviews with senior management showed that these meetings could
provide more information about previous learning, educational context of country
of origin and socio-economic background in country of origin and in England;
acknowledging that employees from A8 countries often down-skill when working
in England (see, for example, Pollard, Latorre and Sriksandarajah, 2008; Schneider
and Holman, 2011).
Ideally, the communication structures should reflect a mix of oral and written
communication as EAL students and their parents have different strengths and
weaknesses, e.g. some of them might have a good reading comprehension in
English but be weaker at oral communication. Others might feel more confident
in their oral communication than in their written communication (see Schneider
and Holman, 2011 for A8 migrants). For example, the primary school offered a
variety of communication structures with the parents of EAL students combining
oral and written means of communication. The communication with such parents
in Windscott Academy was primarily written communication although at times
an interpreter was helping with oral communication (mainly in the context of EAL
students’ negative behaviour and via telephone conversations or messages).
The interviews with staff and children showed that the formal structures outlined
above were supported by a high level of informal communication. For example,
the meetings between teachers and the parents of EAL students after school is
an important feature at Brenton Primary School although nearly non-existent at
Windscott; reflecting the lower levels of parents’ involvement at secondary school
in general and the social disadvantage apparent in the local area of Windscott.
Informal communication amongst and between teachers, EAL pupils, non EAL
pupils and their parents and senior management is a vital element in the EAL
communication process of both schools. Although informal communication offers
flexibility and fast decision making it also risks being inconsistent and biased with
regard to decisions on EAL. It is, therefore, important that formal communication
structures are also in place to support the informal communication processes.
The following outlines in more detail the communication processes between
different members of the school.
8.2 EAL pupils ⇔ senior management
The initial meeting with new EAL pupils, their parents and senior management
team (SMT) (normally the principal and the EAL coordinator or staff responsible
for pastoral care) is an important part of the communication structure. Senior
management staff at the primary school prioritised certain areas in their initial
communication with the EAL pupils, e.g. the emotional state of children, their
situation at home, followed by their language and academic knowledge. At the
secondary school the focus of the initial meeting was, in particular, on language
ability of the EAL student. In the case of the secondary school it was often the only
occasion when parents visited the school with their child.
The EAL staff at both schools engaged in specific communication processes and
strategies with the EAL pupils. There was a high level of formal communication
between EAL staff and EAL pupils, e.g. scheduled support within the classroom,
meetings outside the classroom for extra support and discussions regarding
progress. In both schools EAL staff and EAL pupils perceived their communication
in a very positive way.
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SECTION 8: COMMUNICATION STRUCTURES AND PROCESSES
8.3 EAL pupils ⇔ teachers
EAL pupils at the primary school reflected good communication with class
teachers and provided many examples as to how teachers were supporting the
communication with them. Windscott Academy EAL students’ perceptions of the
communication between EAL students and teachers was more varied; reflecting
that EAL students had a range of teachers whereby some were perceived as being
better than others at communicating with EAL students.
A number of strategies and tools were used in Brenton Primary School to facilitate
and/or to enhance the communication process between EAL students and teachers
within the classroom: Google Translate, written signs, pictures which helped with
communication in English; tablet using pictures to communicate. Both case study
schools did not have a universal policy regarding the use of communication tools
and teachers’ perceptions of using these tools varied as reflected in the quotes
below:
I have key word sheets that are translated, English, Polish and English
Lithuanian, all these, trying to build up an archive of those. And I have
like a progress pyramid which is a progress strategy and it’s triangles
made up of three boxes at the bottom, two in the middle and one at the
top, and they’ve got three things that they already knew at the beginning
of the lesson, two things they’ve learnt and one thing they need to learn
more about, and I’ve translated those into Polish and Lithuanian and
stuff so they can... and then I have to try and translate.
(Gill Clifford, Science Teacher, Windscott Academy)
I do try and say that in my room, because drama’s a subject that’s
closely related to English, that it’s an English speaking room.
(Tracey Page, Drama Teacher, Windscott Academy)
Some teachers relied in their communication with EAL pupils on other children
who spoke the same language. Other teachers translated material before the
lesson to support the communication process with EAL pupils. At times the
EAL coordinators translated for children “so that other children from the same
country of origin don’t have to translate and interrupt the learning” (Mrs Jones,
EAL Specialist Teaching Assistant, Brenton Primary School). The EAL students
perceived all of these strategies as being very helpful although some pupils were
less keen to use dictionaries and translations in the classroom; especially those
children who were advanced learners of English were very opposed to the idea that
communication took place in their home language.
Teachers’ perceptions of their communication with EAL pupils varied. Some
teachers thought that their communication with EAL (and non-EAL) students was
good even if language skills were low and they felt they formed good relationships
with the pupils:
I don’t know if it’s just me because … I just think I’ve got a very good
relationship with all the kids that I teach, and I think that is mainly
because they just know what to expect, they know where the boundaries
are and they know I’m just exactly what to expect… I just try and let
them be themselves. I try not to suppress any of them, due to whatever
background they’ve come from whether it be another country or
just another socioeconomic background, I just try and let them be
themselves and as long as they know what the line is and not to cross it
then we’re usually alright.
(Gill Clifford, Science Teacher, Windscott Academy)
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SCHOOL APPROACHES TO THE EDUCATION OF EAL STUDENTS: LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT, SOCIAL INTEGRATION AND ACHIEVEMENT
Other teachers mentioned that their communication with EAL pupils was
problematic. They gave a variety of explanations. Apart from linguistic issues (see
Section 4) they referred to the (often assumed) background of the children, e.g.
their experiences of migration, their educational, social, financial background
in their home country and in England. The quote below represents some of the
tentative explanations regarding barriers to communication:
I think sometimes you have children who arrive, and they just feel bad
about themselves. Maybe they weren’t that bright at their last school.
Maybe they weren’t a high-achieving child, and suddenly they’ve had
this huge setback. Maybe they were comfortable at home, and they
lived in a nice big house, and now they’re living in a draughty caravan.
Maybe they’ve lost all their friends. Maybe they’re just having a really
rough time.
(Natalie Jones; EAL Specialist Teaching Assistant, Brenton Primary School)
As outlined in section 4 teachers highlighted the limited (or lack of) information
they had about EAL pupils’ families and parents. The lack of knowledge
represented a strong barrier with regard to more effective and efficient
communication with the pupils and their parents. Teachers’ knowledge about
countries of origin, their school systems, families’ economic and educational
backgrounds in home country and in England and EAL pupils’ former learning
and achievement was very limited. Knowledge was gathered mainly via informal
communication with EAL pupils. Some data were available for teachers via the
school; however, most of the time teachers made assumptions and relied on
inferences from some observations and limited information. The quotes below
reflect some of these assumptions:
I know that the girl who’s come to me has beautiful handwriting and
has great imagination. So I think she’s done a lot of literacy.
(Rachel Knight Class Teacher, Brenton Primary School)
I mean I think that’s the difference is you kind of just assume … they’ve
come over to work in the factories and sometimes you forget that
maybe the families that are coming over aren’t necessarily just that
demographic, they’ve got a different background, so maybe her... I
mean I would assume maybe her parents come over here with quite a
high level and quite well paid jobs. She is such a bright and well spoken
young lady, so that’ll be interesting.
(Joanne York, History Teacher, Windscott Academy)
Another barrier to communication (perceived by teachers) related to the
reluctance by some pupils to utilise the tools which make communication easier
within the classroom, e.g. dictionaries and Google Translate, even if there is some
debate about its value. Several teachers assumed that EAL pupils did not use
these tools as they did not want to stand out.
Empathy is important for effective communication and good relationships.
Several projects were mentioned by both schools which improved the empathy
for understanding other countries’ contexts. The primary school, for example,
engaged with the “Literacy For All’ project which promoted the achievement of
students with English as second language. The secondary school participated in
the ‘World Hello Day’ whereby staff and students had to collect different languages
amongst school staff and pupils. As several staff members had also a migration
background (e.g. from India, Poland and South Africa,) the EAL Lead Teacher
viewed the project as a good strategy to improve communication between staff,
EAL and non-EAL students.
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SECTION 8: COMMUNICATION STRUCTURES AND PROCESSES
8.4 EAL pupils ⇔ non-EAL pupils
EAL pupils were been interviewed in Brenton Primary School generally had a
positive perception of the communication with non-EAL students. Most EAL
children referred to a small number of non-EAL students with whom they
communicated on a regular basis. Although communication amongst the children
seemed very positive in the primary school an older EAL pupil mentioned that
some younger non-EAL children were communicating with them in an unfriendly
way.
EAL pupils at the primary school showed high levels of empathy towards their nonEAL pupils which is vital for a good communication process. This was reflected, for
example, in the EAL pupils’ reflections as to how it must feel for non-EAL students
to have different languages spoken in the classroom. At times EAL students
became too aware of the (assumed) perceptions of non-EAL children and were
reluctant to communicate in their home language at school ‘because for them
[other children] it sounds really funny’. Some EAL students from the secondary
school also highlighted reluctance to communicate in their home language in the
school while others were much keener to do so (reflected in teachers’ perceptions
of EAL students’ communication within and outside the classroom).
At secondary school the communication between EAL and non-EAL students
seemed more problematic than at the primary school. One EAL student referred
to situations where non-EAL students often mentioned in arguments with EAL
students that they ‘should go back home to their own country’. The EAL student
viewed this situation as racism and mentioned that it continued despite the
school’s policies and strategies against racism.
Non-EAL pupils who were interviewed in the primary school reflected strong
communication links with EAL pupils. They viewed the communication with EAL
students in a very positive manner; describing it, for example, as ‘fun’ ‘excitement’
reflecting that their communication was enriched by learning about different
countries and cultural backgrounds, by communicating in different ways with EAL
pupils who had lower levels of English and by learning some words in the home
languages of the EAL pupils. The intense communication processes formed strong
relationships between some EAL and non-EAL pupils which continued in some
cases even if the EAL child had moved away from the school.
Non-EAL students at the primary school utilised diverse and innovative strategies
to facilitate and improve communication with EAL pupils who had lower levels of
English such as picture cards, gestures, pointing, facial expressions; reflecting
their engagement with the ‘young interpreters’ programme at the school. They
had also access to laptops with translation programmes. The young interpreter’s
strategy equipped non-EAL pupils with a range of materials to facilitate
communication and had a very positive impact on the communication between
non-EAL and EAL pupils.
I think it’s the fact that when
they come in, it’s a new
place, it’s a new country
and it’s something new and
sometimes they feel shy and
don’t know what to say
Empathy is an important factor in successful communication and the interviews
with non-EAL primary school pupils reflected a strong ability to empathise with
EAL pupils and they were keen on learning other languages.
(Petia, EAL pupil from
Bulgaria, Brenton Primary
School)
I think it’s the fact that when they come in, it’s a new place, it’s a new
country and it’s something new and sometimes they feel shy and don’t
know what to say.
(Petia, EAL pupil from Bulgaria, Brenton Primary School)
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Maybe if they’re in a group of friends and their friends are all talking
about stuff that they don’t have a clue what they’re talking about.
(Irena, EAL Student, Brenton Primary School)
Well it was a great experience for me because I learnt some Polish as
well.
(Petia, EAL Student, Brenton Primary School)
The two non-EAL students interviewed at the secondary school were generally
positive about their communication with EAL students and showed empathy
towards EAL students.25 They were also positive about the use of other languages
in the classroom:
It makes you like want to learn a different language because it helps
you get a job.
(Chloe, Non-EAL Student, Windscott Academy)
8.5 Senior management team ⇔ EAL students’ parents
Communication between EAL students’ parents and senior management in both
schools took place during the initial admission procedure. Both schools focused
in their initial meeting on the EAL pupil and his/her level of English. Although both
schools tried to find out about the family’s background there was no structured
communication process to collect information about families’ backgrounds in
countries of origin and in England.
Brenton Primary School had sent out a questionnaire to parents regarding their
preferred way of communication with the school. The feedback showed that
parents wanted ‘ParentMail’ as a preferred communication system between the
school and parents (set up in September 2013). The advantage of ‘ParentMail’ is
that positive messages can also be easily disseminated to parents and pupils;
translated template letters which can be used to report good news or matters
of concern (e.g. attendance, behaviour) can also be fairly quickly developed.
‘ParentMail’ is, therefore, an efficient and effective communication strategy for
routine communication of positive and negative messages between the school
and EAL and non-EAL students’ parents. The secondary school did not have
‘ParentMail’ in place at the time of the interviews.
The primary school was also in the process of establishing a parent group to allow
for communication with all parents representing the diverse backgrounds with
regard to EAL and non-EAL social class background etc. The set-up was carefully
planned represented in the quote below:
It’s got to be – not to be patronising but it must be sort of led by the
parents but carefully steered […] Because if you are going to encourage
everyone you’ve got to expect people maybe have different ways of
communicating with each other or dealing with a situation…it’s not
going to necessarily be that easy or that straightforward if we want to
do it properly. And we want to do it properly.
(Niki Murray, Parent Governor, Brenton Primary School)
25. Meta-cognition refers to the conscious
knowledge and strategies that learners use
to control the processes of learning and
problem solving.
82
Windscott Academy had two bilingual teaching assistants who could speak several
languages of the A8 countries and whose role was to facilitate communication
between the school and the he parents of EAL students. The interviews with staff
at the secondary school reflected that messages that were communicated via the
interpreter were often exceptional and the situations described by teachers were
generally relating to negative messages to EAL students’ parents (e.g. student’s
lack of attendance; behavioural problems).
SECTION 8: COMMUNICATION STRUCTURES AND PROCESSES
Both schools and, in particular the primary school, included bilingual signage in
their schools. This is also encouraged by the local authority teaching advisors so
that students and parents feel ‘valued’ and ‘at home’:
Most schools that we talk to get onboard with that. Again, it varies
from place to place. The one I’m doing a lot of work in at the moment
hasn’t got a lot of bilingual signage, but it’s something that we would
encourage and something that’s going to start changing. Other schools
you go to and there’s languages all over the place and it’s fantastic. It
makes the children feel valued, if you like, and it makes the parents
feel more at home because they can see their own language around. So,
again, it’s something that varies, but it’s something that we encourage.
(Greg Fletcher, Local Authority EAL Advisor)
8.6 Teachers ⇔ EAL students’ parents
All teachers highlighted the lack of information they have about EAL pupils and
their parents to facilitate a more efficient communication with the parents and
(their children).
There is a bit of information. I usually find that out by chatting to the
teachers, because the teachers have been seeing the parents at the
beginning and end of the day. Obviously the older the children are, the
less the parents are going to be around, but the more they’re going to
tell you about their lives, and their home life, so the more information
you get from them…The thing we’ve tried to do that hasn’t worked
so far, we haven’t had the right languages coincide, is get parent
volunteers who speak a language to come in, so then you discover
whether they’re the kind of people who are going to volunteer to help
other people who have their same language, so there’s lots of little ways
in which you get information, but I don’t really have a lot of information
about the parents, I have to say.
(Niki Jones, EAL Specialist Teaching Assistant, Brenton Primary School)
Several teachers at the Windscott Academy presented a generalised view that
the communication with EAL students’ parents was problematic (e.g. sporadic or
non-existent); often illustrating this by these parents non-attendance of parent
evenings. However, often teachers gave a slightly different picture when they
discussed in more detail their relationship with EAL pupils and their parents and
mentioned that they spoke to some EAL students’ parents at parent evenings. The
science teacher at Windscott who was quoted above as using a variety of strategies
to engage EAL students and who said she had a good relationship with the EAL
students stressed that their parents had attended her session at the parent
evening.
[Y]ou’ve got the parents coming in and you get that one on one contact
then, and you often find that they’ll have a family member that will
translate or it’ll be their son or daughter translating for them.
(Gill Clifford, Science Teacher, Windscott Academy)
Teachers at Windscott who felt that the communication with EAL students’
parents was problematic gave a number of explanations for parents’ lack of
communication. Language issues were a major factor (see Section 5). However,
even if language levels were good other factors such as lack of educational
background, lack of interest in education, lack of communication between children
and parents/ carers and shift work were mentioned to explain problems regarding
communication. These were explanations based on assumptions rather than
knowledge.
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The teachers at Brenton Primary School did not highlight a general lack of
communication with EAL students’ parents; although some EAL (and non-EAL)
groups were viewed as being less engaged/ present at school than others. There
was also more informal communication between these parents and teachers after
school when compared to the secondary school (which reflects the lower levels of
parents’ contact with secondary schools in general).
I think they need developing
in different respects, but
parental engagement is a
big issue, partly because we
have a number of families
from Eastern Europe, for
example, where one parent
is working one shift and the
other parent is working the
other shift, so it’s difficult to
get both parents into school
or either parent into school,
because there might be
some kind of an overlap or
there might be…contacting
parents, getting them to
engage, getting them to
come into school and not
seeing school as something
to be frightened of.
(Greg Fletcher, Local
Authority EAL Advisor)
One of the local authority advisory teachers pointed out that EAL parents are
generally employed and often in shift work (reflecting the recruitment of migrant
workers into agriculture, food processing and the caring industries as outlined in
Section 3). This relates, in particular, to the secondary school which was situated
in an area with high levels of agricultural work.
I think they need developing in different respects, but parental
engagement is a big issue, partly because we have a number of families
from Eastern Europe, for example, where one parent is working one
shift and the other parent is working the other shift, so it’s difficult
to get both parents into school or either parent into school, because
there might be some kind of an overlap or there might be…contacting
parents, getting them to engage, getting them to come into school and
not seeing school as something to be frightened of.
(Greg Fletcher, Local Authority EAL Advisor)
Lack of knowledge about EAL pupils and their families was highlighted by all
teachers in both schools. Knowledge is a key factor for empathy and effective
communication between teachers and EAL students’ parents. Due to limited or
lack of knowledge about EAL families, teachers’ communication with EAL students
and EAL students and their parents was characterised by a range of assumptions;
in particular, about the educational backgrounds of A8 families. Although levels of
English might be low and European citizens from the A 8 countries might work in
low skilled jobs in England they often achieved medium to high levels of education
(e.g. A-levels and degrees) in their countries of origin and are under-employed in
England (see Schneider and Holman, 2011).
Brenton Primary School conducted a small survey amongst their teachers
regarding communication with parents (EAL and non-EAL). The questionnaire
revealed “a lot of positive stuff but there was a lot of frustration as well concerning
communication (with the parents of EAL and non EAL student)” (Niki Murray,
Parent Governor, Brenton Primary School). The parent governor also pointed
out that young teachers face a challenge with some EAL and non-EAL students’
parents as they have such a different background to their own background. Again,
knowledge and information about backgrounds will help to bridge the gap between
different backgrounds.
The local authority supports the schools with a number of important services
which are vital to facilitate and enhance communication with EAL parents:
We’ve set up a number of letters, ways to communicate with students’
parents, getting teachers to send homework in advance, if you see
what I mean? So here’s the topic for the next few weeks, can you make
sure your child is familiar with these words – and we can give them the
translation, so Polish and English. In one school, recently, the Great
Fire of London is the topic that’s coming up, and they want to send a
vocabulary sheet back with the child – so fantastic, because, that way,
the parents at least know what’s going on and they can maybe help with
homework. Even though they may not understand all of the English,
they can still research the history and talk about that.
(Greg Fletcher, Local Authority EAL Advisor)
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8.7 Communication
between the school and the local
community
The EAL specialist teaching assistant at Brenton Primary School was
responsible for liaising with the community. She highlighted that there was good
communication with the local church. Other religions and religious festivals
such as Eid were also acknowledged within the school. However, there was no
specific communication between the school and organisations in the community
which represented other religions and/or EAL communities. The primary school
participated in EAL leading teachers meetings which took place in other schools in
the community to exchange ideas and strategies regarding EAL teaching.
Windscott Academy had strong links with local community organisations which
facilitated the communication between EAL and non-EAL students after school
and at the weekend. However, the secondary school was in a community where
an anti-migration party was fairly influential and the parent governor of this
school mentioned that there were some tensions between the EAL and non-EAL
community outside school. The school’s sports teacher (himself having a migration
background from an A8 country) was, in particular, interested to link the school
with the wider community of European citizens arriving from the A8 countries. He
had also planned a trip to Poland for non-EAL and EAL students.
The interviews with the local authority advisors highlighted their important role
in facilitating and enhancing communication with EAL pupils, their parents and
school staff. They offered a wide range of strategies relating, for example, to the
admission process of EAL families (e.g. disseminating a new arrivals guidance
booklet), to parental engagement (translated letters, support with homework
tasks) and students’ assessment (bilingual support and translations of assessment
tasks). There was a certain amount of ambiguity to what extent schools in the
region took their recommendations on board. The primary school seemed to have
better contacts with the local authority advisory teachers than the secondary
school. The interviews showed that bilingual support and the knowledge of EAL
students and parents to be able to access the service had a positive impact:
There’s a lot of bilingual communication, letters get translated, that
sort of thing, so there’s a lot of communication that goes on anyway, but
if there’s a meeting, whether it’s because there’s been a problem with
the student or whether it’s a language assessment or whether it’s a
parents’ evening, if we can get bilingual support in there, it just makes a
huge difference.
(Greg Fletcher, Local Authority EAL Advisor)
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8.8Summary
Both schools showed high levels of enthusiasm and dedication regarding the
facilitation and improvement of communication with EAL students and their
parents. It was apparent that both schools managed with limited resources to
facilitate and improve communication with EAL students and their parents. The
schools had developed a variety of communication structures with their EAL
students which helped especially EAL students with low level of English who
arrived in the early years of primary and secondary school. The research raises
the question as to whether additional strategies need to be developed for EAL
students who arrive with low levels of English in the middle or later years of
primary and secondary school. Additionally, the interviews with school staff and
EAL students highlighted the diverse backgrounds and characteristics of EAL
students with regard to personality, ability, English language levels when arriving
at school, English training before arriving in England etc. Although generalised
strategies to improve communication are important they need to be accompanied
by individualised strategies to cater for the diversity amongst EAL students.
Communication with EAL students’ parents was a main focus in both schools.
Although the primary school highlighted some good communication with these
parents they also stated that some EAL communities were more difficult to engage.
The primary school had introduced more recently a wide range of strategies
and initiatives. However, it was not clear how the information gathered via the
different channels was disseminated amongst school staff and to what extent
these processes allowed for feedback procedures from EAL students’ parents (e.g.
two-way communication processes). A clear strategy (possibly reflected in a visual
scheme) regarding feedback and dissemination of information might be useful
for the overall communication regarding EAL. Due to the recent implementation
of several strategies in 2013 effects on parents’ engagement and knowledge
of school processes could not be researched. The secondary school was, in
particular, focusing on communication strategies with EAL students and was
planning to emphasise further communication with the parents of EAL students.
Communication at the secondary school focused more on ‘emergency’ situations
and negative messages regarding students’ behaviour and/or attendance when
compared to the primary school. 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 (see also Section 4).
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SECTION 9:
LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT,
SOCIAL INTEGRATION AND
EDUCATIONAL ACHIEVEMENT
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SCHOOL APPROACHES TO THE EDUCATION OF EAL STUDENTS: LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT, SOCIAL INTEGRATION AND ACHIEVEMENT
Our research aimed to extend the understanding of the pedagogic and social
issues relating to language development, social integration and educational
achievement of EAL students by investigating the contribution that primary and
secondary schools make. We set out to discover how schools conceptualised and
addressed the linguistic academic and social needs of such youth. Our research
design ensured that we elicited the views of senior management, teachers,
children and parents. Although ambitious, we were aware that the project was in
itself exploratory as we were unsure what we might discover when we went below
the surface of EAL children’s education and the culture of schools. The next stage
of the project will explore in more depth issues to do with initial and continuous
assessment of learning, parental engagement and support, and the use of
English language development in improving social integration and educational
achievement.
In the event, our research revealed as much about what the school system does
not know as what schools do know and provide for. EAL children, as migrant
children, although categorised and included in local authority and the DfE’s annual
School Census data are a largely unknown quantity not least because of the sheer
diversity associated with their language backgrounds, skills, their knowledge of
different school subjects, their home cultures and their motivations.
In our case we focused mainly on one type of EAL child - the Eastern European
child who lives in the Eastern region of England, a largely rural area with far less
experience than cosmopolitan inner-city linguistic and cultural diversity.
In the event, our research
revealed as much about
what the school system
does not know as what
schools do know and
provide for. EAL children, as
migrant children, although
categorised and included
in local authority and the
DfE’s annual School Census
data are a largely unknown
quantity not least because
of the sheer diversity
associated with their
language backgrounds,
skills, their knowledge of
different school subjects,
their home cultures and
their motivations.
Below we bring together some of the findings which our research uncovered, in
the authority and in the two case study schools - Brenton Primary School and
Windscott Academy. Both schools were selected because they had a proportion
of Eastern European children on their roll - from Latvia, Lithuania and Poland;
although other EAL communities were also represented and referred to in the
interviews with school staff. Although the children in our sample were European
citizens they fall in the category of (transnational) migrants both in the sense of
arriving in the UK from other European countries but also in the sense that they
are often transitory and do not necessarily stay in the same school or country
during their educational careers. The statistical pattern of entry and retention of
such children and their pattern of distribution across years, subject sets and as
candidates in national assessments and examinations is therefore not easy to
collect as each year the composition of the EAL school community changes, and
the patterns of achievement change as a result.
Researching such a moving population is difficult in itself and we find therefore
we are not in a position by the end of this first stage of the project to make
definitive statements about the progress of such children through the school that will be the focus of the second stage of this research. What we are able to
ascertain are the various responses to the presence of such Eastern European
children in school, their language needs and their integration into predominantly
but not wholly white school communities where English is the mother tongue of
the majority of pupils. Below we try to capture the contradictory and sometimes
incompatible views about EAL students and their needs, as a catalyst for more
discussion.
9.1 Language development
We start by directly addressing what we discovered about the interconnections
between language development, social integration and educational achievement.
It is clear from our research that the multilingual learning environment within
the two case study schools reflected a wide range of languages and multilingual
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practices. However, there seemed to be no specific written language policy in the
schools regarding the use of languages with which to guide teachers or assess the
effectiveness of such strategies.
This finding is largely in accord with the general consensus in the field that EAL
practice in the UK is very varied, from school to school, and from region to region,
and lacks a continuous national strategy to promote the ‘best practice’ (see
Demie, 2013a & b; Leung, 2001; Creese, 2004; Conteh & Brock, 2011). In a study
of ten case schools conducted by the Institute of Education and commissioned by
the TDA, Wallace (2005 & 2011) reaches a similar conclusion that, although each
school featured a very multilingual environment, the EAL related policies and
practices vary significantly from school to school. This recommendation echoes
NALDIC’s call for a coherent national strategy and our recommendation that a
continuous national policy approach is needed to support schools in this area.
With regard to literacy strategies, our study seems to show that there is clear
difference between the primary and the secondary school. In the primary school
the EAL students’ general literacy and learning skills were being developed.
The main goal, in addition to general learning, was to encourage them to start
speaking English quickly so that they could mix as soon as possible with other
students. In Windscott Academy, the promotion of EAL students’ learning was
more targeted on subject teaching and a specific learning target. A unique
contribution of our research with respect to pedagogy is its comparative angle.
Previous studies on EAL pedagogy mainly focus on either primary or secondary
schooling. If developed further, such a comparative angle would improve our
knowledge of ‘progression’ within primary and secondary education but also shed
light on our understanding of ‘transition’ between the two, an important aspect
which is well documented in modern foreign language (MFL) education (Evans &
Fisher, 2010), but is barely touched upon in EAL literature.
Despite the differences in general pedagogical goals, however, both primary and
secondary teachers employed similar techniques and strategies in the classroom
such as translation, peer support and making reference to home languages.
Our research largely concurs with previous studies conducted in the UK and
internationally and reaches a similar conclusion that teachers use a wide range of
teaching strategies to support EAL learners to access the curriculum (see Purdy,
2008; Olson & Land, 2007). However, some interesting strategies reported in other
studies, such as meta-cognitive strategies26 (Cortazzi & Jin, 2007), small group
work (Parker-Jenkins et al., 2004), and partnership teaching (Creese, 2006), did
not feature in our data. This is partly because our research uses a naturalistic
approach to understand practice rather than targeted interventions which aim at
particular strategies.
Research has also suggested that instruction for EAL learners should include
the use of their mother tongue (L1). For example, in a US study Lugo-Neris et al.
(2010) suggest that second language acquisition can be enhanced by supporting
and strengthening the child’s first language. In a US based study these authors
examined whether English-only vocabulary instruction or English vocabulary
instruction enhanced with Spanish bridging produced greater word learning in
young Spanish-speaking EAL learners, They found significant improvement in
naming, receptive knowledge and expressive definitions for those children who
received Spanish bridging. However whereas the use of the first language (L1)
in teaching may be feasible in some areas of the US where the majority of EAL
learners share Spanish as an L1, this is often not the case in the UK where EAL
learners often come from a wide range of countries and language backgrounds.
However, our project highlights the fact that different stakeholders (i.e. EAL
students, non-EAL students, EAL students’ parents, teachers, EAL coordinators
and senior management staff) can have different and contradictory views about
26. Meta-cognition refers to the conscious
knowledge and strategies that learners use
to control the processes of learning and
problem solving.
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the role of English and home languages in learning. For example, the group of
teachers we interviewed veered between different approaches such as:
(a)A perception that only English should be spoken in an English
classroom.
(b)The idea that a multilingual classroom is not only beneficial to
EAL students but also to non-EAL students.
Overall it has not been possible to capture a consensus amongst teachers about
the actual or potential value and role of L1 (mother tongue) in the classroom.
But it is clear that teachers in our study only occasionally used students’ home
languages to achieve a particular pedagogical goal. In most cases, the use of
home languages (L1) in both schools only took place in informal activities, such as
taking of the register, greetings and social events. It seems that the sheer range
of languages in the school and lack of knowledge of these languages made it
impossible for teachers to conduct teaching tasks with home languages. Thus they
simply used them as a means of celebrating diversity and raising EAL students’
confidence, demonstrate their pride in their culture and contribute something
interesting to class discussions. For example, another explanation of the lack of
use of home languages may be linked to the fact that we do not have sufficient
empirical evidence to demonstrate the link between different stages of language
development and academic achievement (see also Demie and Strand, 2006, Strand
& Demie, 2005).27
In our research, there was little emphasis upon the use of EAL teachers as peer
support, and on the bridging of different languages. It was unclear whether
relevant research on EAL teaching had been discussed in the context of our two
school sites or drawn upon in the development of the school approach. Both
the primary and secondary school in our study used the ‘immersion strategy’
or ‘mainstreaming approach’ placing all new EAL arrivals (irrespective of their
English language skills) into the mainstream classroom as well as providing
extra English tuition in withdrawal groups. However several teachers took the
view that students should only enter the classroom after attaining a suitable
level of competence in English following intensive English language training. The
effects this mainstreaming strategy or different EAL teaching approaches have
on social integration and educational achievement are difficult to decipher within
a one-off snapshot study and without a comparison with other schools which
employ different school and classroom based practice. Below we consider how
these two elements might have affected or in turn been affected by EAL children’s
integration, both academically and socially.
9.2 Social integration in relation to language
development
27. This can be explored further in the second
phase of the project, which looks more
specifically at the relationship between
languages and assessment.
90
The relationship between language development and social integration has
been explored through a number of studies. Most of this research adopts an
ethnographic approach to classroom learning in order to investigate pupils’
experiences as EAL learners in school. These studies stress a link between
language development, the use of L1, the culture of the school, the formation
of positive learning identities. Mills’ (2001) study of Asian children’s views of
bilingualism, for example, shows that language played a key role in children’s
identities and in the way they maintain symbolic forms of religious, cultural, family
and community affiliation. The language strategies used in the classroom have
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also been found to have an impact on children’s identities as well as their language
and literacy learning. In their review of experimental and quasi-experimental
studies to examine strategies for teaching English literacy to EAL learners,
Adesope et al. (2011) found that students from low socio-economic backgrounds
benefited academically and socially from ESL literacy interventions where they
had the opportunity to engage in oral interaction with peers and teachers in order
to discuss and negotiate meaning of texts. Similarly, recognising the culture and
identity of the child has been found to be important to literacy learning28 along
with questioning, teaching vocabulary, and engaging in collaborative talk. This has
implications for understanding the relationship between language development
and social integration in school.
Below, we briefly report some of the findings of five well known qualitative studies
in which we glimpse the sort of factors that influence EAL students’ identities as
learners and as members of the school community.
Study 1: After observing three newly arrived EAL children in the UK during
their first year at school, Chen (2007) found that they experienced deep
feelings of isolation, misunderstanding and frustration. They all wanted to
promote their own learning of English actively, but felt unsupported in doing
so, which caused the author to question the principles of ‘inclusion’ and
‘equality’ that govern the EAL policies in the UK, calling for more focused
support for new arrivals in small groups out of the mainstream classroom.
Study 2: The monolingual approach of British schools has been challenged
by Blackledge (2000) which he argues does not meet the linguistic needs
of ethnic minority pupils. He warns of the danger of considering linguistic
minorities in terms of language ‘deficit’ in which speaking another
language is perceived as limiting children’s literacy skills and cognitive
development and acts as a process of exclusion for EAL learners and their
families.
Study 3: In a different context of specialised ESL classes in the US, Cohen
(2011) reported that for the three adolescent Mexican EAL learners in
his study, the ESL classroom provided a socially comfortable learning
environment, yet in comparison with their limited experience of the
mainstream classroom through elective lessons, did not provide sufficiently
cognitively challenging material and did not meet students’ expectations for
their future careers. Due to their disillusionment with the programme, the
primary goal of the students therefore became to transition out of the ESL
classroom and into an idealised mainstream curriculum.
Study 4: Wassell et al. (2010) found that students benefited from resources
such as space, time and a schema of caring which were created by
teachers’ practices, yet were discouraged by poor instructional practices,
a lack of empathy of students’ experiences and diminished access to the
curriculum.
Study 5: In the Canadian context, Day (2002) shows how EAL pupils draw
on their linguistic resources in both the L2 and their L1 and use both in
interactions with peers and teachers to construct different pupil identities.
This impacts on the way they integrate in the classroom. New learners
of English tend initially to remain at the periphery of the classroom, then
progressively move towards the ‘centre’ as they develop more proficiency in
English.
28. See Purdy(2008).
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SCHOOL APPROACHES TO THE EDUCATION OF EAL STUDENTS: LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT, SOCIAL INTEGRATION AND ACHIEVEMENT
These studies emphasize the complexity of social integration in relation to
language development, the ways in which certain classroom and school strategies
and ethos can have a positive impact on pupils’ social integration, whilst others
are perceived as a hindrance or as not providing the necessary support and
environment for EAL pupils as learners. Senior managers went out of their way
to highlight the beneficial impact of multilingual and multicultural school cultures
for their pupils, and displayed a strong awareness of the range of strategies
required to meet these goals.
The case studies highlighted the important role of school cultural factors and
language development which can affect the social integration of EAL pupils in
primary and secondary school. One central finding was that social integration
of EAL pupils seemed to be more clearly conceptualised in Brenton Primary
School whilst in the secondary school, interviews with senior management,
teachers and EAL leaders reflected more fragmented and diverse understandings
about what constitutes social integration and how it could be achieved for such
students. Brenton Primary School had effective strategies which helped newly
arrived EAL children integrate in school. In addition to support from specialised
staff and teachers, peers came across as playing a central role in offering
language support, be it by sitting next to a newly-arrived child, working as a young
interpreter or relying on resources such as ‘communication cards’ to help the
child access words in English. Such peer support played an important role in both
EAL pupils’ language development and sense of integration within the classroom
and the school community. However, it was less clear how social integration was
monitored and supported after the initial period of settling in. In addition, this
social integration was restricted to the school and did not carry over to the wider
community, and children often did not meet outside school.
In contrast, in Windscott Academy, although we found evidence of a commitment
to integrate EAL students into the school, the curriculum and its student culture,
this commitment was not always conceptualized in an even way across different
members of staff and teachers. There was evidence that friendships were
developed amongst EAL and non-EAL students. However, evidence from interviews
with staff and teachers also supported the view that certain peer groups were
based on linguistic homogeneity, which caused division within the school and also
lines of differentiation within the classroom. National/linguistic groupings were
perceived, by some teachers, to be a hindrance to language development and
engagement within certain areas of the curriculum (e.g drama). In addition, there
were indications that there was, on occasion, conflict amongst and between these
two groups. Such conflict (which could even be violent) was not investigated in our
project but the small evidence we collected on the issue pointed to conflict based
on national and linguistic difference and stereotyping. In order to tap this, a deeper
understanding of social integration and its relationship to language development
also requires a more ethnographic study of the various communities which a
school serves, listening as it were to parents, gatekeepers, community leaders,
and local professionals.
The differences between the strategies for social integration at the primary and
secondary school and their relationship to language development can be partially
explained by the different structures of primary and secondary school in general
(e.g. one classroom at Brenton Primary School versus several classrooms
and teachers at Windscott Academy) and the fact that the secondary school
had a larger number of EAL students and was situated in a wider semi-urban
community in which an anti-immigration party had a strong influence. This made
the integrative task of Windscott Academy that much harder.
If we listen to the views of EAL children themselves, it seems that in the primary
school such pupils perceived their social integration in a positive way and felt
that the buddying system, in particular, had provided them with ‘instant friends’.
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Some children also appreciated the support of a child from the same linguistic
background as it helped them to integrate and join in wider friendship groups;
although other EAL children perceived this as problematic and preferred to spend
time with English speaking children. The small number of children interviewed at
the secondary school indicate that they also had made friends easily; although one
student pointed out that he had been integrated into the ‘wrong crowd’ which had
impacted on his achievement.
In general, social integration raises questions about the extent to which it is the
responsibility of schools to promote friendships amongst and between EAL and
non-EAL students. There are difficult questions about the role of language: in
some cases not speaking English was construed as leading to isolation for EAL
students, in other cases it encouraged students to help newly arrived EAL students
and thus participate in forms of peer group interaction and social integration.
In terms of classroom strategies, teachers debated whether children should
be grouped by linguistic background or not. It is unclear whether teachers’
different pedagogical strategies in relation to language development are related
to more successful social integration. But the link between social inclusion and
educational achievement also clearly needs further research. For example schools
need to know whether EAL students are likely to integrate more successfully
when they are high or average achievers or are they more easily integrated into
youth cultures around resistance to schooling. Arguably school approaches could
benefit from the knowledge gained from various research studies on the impact of
teachers’ pedagogic and inclusion strategies on EAL learners’ academic progress.
It is this aspect to which we now turn.
9.3 Educational achievement
There are shortcomings in exploring the impact of language development
and social integration on educational achievement because of the absence of
appropriate and sufficient pupil achievement data. Our project revealed that there
are shortcomings with regard to statistical data regarding EAL progression and
achievement both at local authority and school level. Far more data collection
is required if we are to assess the impact of current language development
strategies and the types and nature of social integration at school level, on EAL
students’ educational achievement and vice versa.
At the international level, the pattern of achievement of EAL learners constitutes a
major concern. Christensen and Stanat (2007), for example, conducted an analysis
of PISA data from 17 countries which have a significant number of immigrant
students29. They found that 15-year-old immigrant students who do not speak the
language of instruction at home are, on average, one year behind non-immigrant
students in terms of achievement. Such a gap in achievement between EAL and
non-EAL learners in both the US and the UK has similarly been identified by
English as an Additional Language Association of Wales (EALAW) (2003), Hakuta,
Butler and Witt (2000) and Slama (2012). The only two countries examined by
Christensen and Stanat (2007) which showed no significant differences between
the performance of these two groups of students were Australia and Canada which
the authors suggest may be linked to the more selective immigration policies
in these two countries. They also highlight the need for long-term investments
in systematic language support programmes and teacher training in second
language acquisition.
Our research revealed some mixed messages about achievement of EAL pupils
in comparison to non-EAL pupils. Our preliminary study found that the primary
However the data
gathered did not
distinguish between
disadvantaged (i.e. on
free school meals ) and
non-disadvantaged
EAL students. The lack
of this information is
critical since it masks the
differential social class
status of EAL families
and also tends to leave
the impression that those
without developed English
language skills are a
homogenous group.
29. Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada,
Denmark, France, Germany, Luxembourg,
the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway,
Sweden, Switzerland, the United States,
Hong Kong China, Macao China, and the
Russian Federation.
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SCHOOL APPROACHES TO THE EDUCATION OF EAL STUDENTS: LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT, SOCIAL INTEGRATION AND ACHIEVEMENT
school collected monitoring data regarding the progress of EAL and non-EAL
students throughout the school years and the EAL coordinator monitored individual
students’ progression. However the data gathered did not distinguish between
disadvantaged (i.e. on free school meals30) and non-disadvantaged EAL students.
The lack of this information is critical since it masks the differential social class
status of EAL families and also tends to leave the impression that those without
developed English language skills are a homogenous group.
The Brenton Primary School staff we interviewed believed that EAL children
who arrived in the early years of primary school achieved as well as their nonEAL counterparts by the end of Key Stage 2; although there were not objective
data available to reflect this assumption. The school data for 2012/13 showed
that non-EAL pupils had performed considerably better at the end of KS2 than
EAL pupils. However, the data also highlighted that that there were pockets of
EAL achievement in Year 3 and Year 4 which outstripped the achievement of the
overall cohort. These data reflect the diverse backgrounds and teaching contexts
of EAL students and indicate that generalised comments about EAL students and
achievement fail to address the variety and complexity of the issue.
At Windscott Academy, the senior management and teaching staff’s perceptions
regarding the link between language development and educational achievement
suggested that some newly arrived EAL students progressed very well. However,
overall students were not confident enough to select humanities subjects for their
GCSEs. GCSE 2012/13 data showed that EAL students were also considerably less
likely than their non-EAL counterparts to take and obtain GCSEs in English but
also in mathematics even though some EAL students do well in this subject in their
secondary school careers.
Standing back from our research, it is important to note research findings
which suggest that the promotion of educational achievement of EAL students
is directly connected to their progression in learning English. Of importance
is the development of an appropriate school-based language. Research, for
example, indicates that it is a lack of vocabulary which places the most significant
constraints on their comprehension of written and spoken texts31. In response to
this, a number of studies call for a more systematic focus on the development of
vocabulary skills in EAL learners across the primary school curriculum32.
30. There is general acknowledgment that free
school meals might be a limited indicator
for economic disadvantage as some
families might not apply and it might not
capture that families might drift in and out
of economic disadvantage. See http://cee.
lse.ac.uk/ceedps/ceedp84.pdf
31. Burgoyne, Kelly, Whiteley & Spooner
(2009); Burgoyne, Whiteley & Hutchinson,
(2011)
32. For example: Burgoyne, Whiteley &
Hutchinson (2011), Cheung & Slavin (2005),
Davis (2012), Hutchinson, Whiteley, Smith
& Connors (2003) and Robinson (2005).
94
Cameron and Besser (2004) found that EAL learners at the primary school level
handle a variety of genres, prepositions and the composition of short, fixed phrases
less well than native English speaking pupils and therefore require more explicit
instruction in these areas. At secondary level, they continue to struggle with genres
and also show weaknesses in the quality of content, sentence structure and word
level grammar as well as difficulties in organising and writing extended texts
(c.f. Cameron, 2003). This is interesting and potentially has wider applicability to
educating EAL learners and teachers in terms of thinking about the development of
academic vocabulary. The need of placing more emphasis on academic vocabulary
was highlighted in our research findings which showed that newly arrived EAL
pupils in both schools fairly quickly picked up BICS levels of English (Basic
Interpersonal Communication Skills) while CALP (Cognitive Academic Language
Proficiency) levels which focused on analysis, inference and synthesising were less
developed and focused on by teaching staff.
Research has explored ways of closing the gap in achievement between EAL and
non-EAL learners. For example, a number of pedagogic strategies have been
suggested as ways of improving EAL students’ learning in the classroom. The
majority of such strategies in the UK and internationally are aimed at developing
the literacy skills of EAL learners. In relation to writing, Ofsted (2005, 2006)
guidelines encourage, for example, the exposure to ‘good’ writing and feedback
provided by teachers which takes specific account of EAL. However, it seems as
SECTION 9: LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT, SOCIAL INTEGRATION AND EDUCATIONAL ACHIEVEMENT
though valuable research into the benefits of developing students’ awareness and
use of language learning strategies has not been readily applied to EAL learners.
Cortazzi & Jin (2007) therefore suggest an approach to narrative development
which encourages EAL students to reflect on their learning processes, for example,
by developing opportunities for planning for, remembering, understanding and
reflecting on storytelling.
In order to improve the oral skills of EAL learners, a number of teaching strategies
have been identified by researchers. For example:
•The inclusion of planned opportunities for speaking and listening
and the use of ‘talk partners’, talk frames and role plays are
encouraged and speaking and listening should be prioritised over
writing33;
•The use of role-plays allow EAL pupils to practise words and
phrases in a relaxed atmosphere supported by peers, teachers or
bilingual assistants34;
•Small group work can be beneficial for EAL learners (ParkerJenkins et al. (2004) which could be of particular benefit in providing
support for new arrivals in a separate EAL class (see Chen, 2009);
and,
•Several studies suggest that EAL learners might require more
explicit language instruction35 and that they should also be exposed
to explicit teaching, modelling and guided practice in a variety of
language learning strategies36.
Below are further strategies which have been discussed in the literature to raise
the achievement of EAL pupils in general:
•
In Canada, Guo and Mohan (2008) highlighted the importance of
parents and teachers working together to support the achievement
of EAL pupils in mainstream classes;
•Extra sessions with adult talking partners made a real difference to
the pupils’ spoken English in an educational context and so to their
engagement in education (see Kotler et al. 2001)
•Due to constraints in school hours, alternatives such as summer
school and after-school programmes may be needed to enhance
learning (see Hakuta et al. 2000).
•Thomas and Collier (2002) call for a constant and long-term
approach, stating that language support programmes must be well
implemented, not segregated, and be sustained for five to six years.
However many of these recommendations require a considerable investment of
time and money on the part of schools, such as the development and staffing
of additional extra-curricular programmes. There are few intervention-based
studies into how regular classroom subject teachers can improve the learning
and achievement of EAL pupils within their normal lessons alongside their
native English-speaking peers. One such study by Benton and White (2007), for
example, analysed the attainment of EAL pupils in primary schools across 21
local authorities in England which participated in a two-year EAL pilot programme
aimed at raising the achievement of bilingual learners. Schools involved in the
programme had access to an EAL consultant, were provided with EAL-specific
materials on assessment for learning, planning and teaching, and were involved
33. Conteh (2012); McDermott (2008); Parke,
Drury, Kenner & Robertson (2002)
34. Abedi (2007), Clewell & Consentino de
Cohen (2007), Short & Fitzsimmons (2007)
and Solorzano (2008)
35. Gardner & Rea-Dickins (2001), Rea-Dickins
(2001) and Teasdale & Leung (2000)
36. Francis, Rivera, Lesaux, Kieffer and Rivera
(2006), Kieffer, Lesaux, Rivera & Francis
(2009), Rivera, Acosta & Willner (2008) and
Willner, Rivera & Acosta (2009)
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SCHOOL APPROACHES TO THE EDUCATION OF EAL STUDENTS: LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT, SOCIAL INTEGRATION AND ACHIEVEMENT
in regional networks to provide a platform for sharing ideas and good practice.
Teachers adopted particular approaches such as planned opportunities for
speaking and listening and the use of curricular/layered targets to plan for
language development.
Benton and White (2007) found that the schools involved in the programme made
more progress with their Key Stage 2 results than similar schools not involved in
the programme, and in particular, they found no significant differences in the rates
of improvement for EAL and non-EAL learners with regard to Key Stage 2 English.
In fact, the teaching approaches adopted seemed to have assisted both EAL and
non-EAL pupils in their learning. On the other hand, in relation to Key Stage 2
mathematics and science, there were no significant differences in the pupils’ rates
of progress in programme schools compared to non-programme schools. This
is attributed to the fact that schools adopted the practices in these subjects at a
later stage in the programme, emphasising the importance of a prolonged and
consistent approach.
It is important to highlight that in spite of the fact that the strategies outlined in
the section above are targeted towards benefitting EAL learners, Facella, Rampino
and Shea (2005) found that many of the teaching strategies successful for English
language learners were also successful for native English speaking pupils.
More emphasis should be placed on this finding in future research and policy
development as it shows that so-called EAL targeted resources can potentially
benefit both EAL and non-EAL pupils.
Both schools used a number of strategies to improve achievement such as
focusing on parental engagement (the primary school in particular) and having
separate English lessons for newly arrived EAL learners. However, several of the
strategies outlined above such as role play, summer schools and the use of a
variety of language learning strategies have not been utilised and it might be useful
to consider them to complement the existing strategies.
Several researchers have also emphasised the importance for educational
achievement of recognising the range of languages that bilingual pupils bring to
learning, both in and out of the classroom37. Supporting the development of pupils’
L1 has also been shown to benefit pupils’ general academic progress and learning
in a number of studies:
•Thomas and Collier (2002) found that academic achievement was often
delayed by as much as one to five years if there had been no mother
tongue schooling;
•Robertson (2006) explored the processes of five year old children
learning to read simultaneously in different languages and scripts and
discovered that, rather than finding this confusing, it had a powerful
impact in enabling them to see literacies as systems that change and
can be manipulated; and,
•Ryu (2004) draws attention to the positive effects of being bilingual, such
as high cognitive development and a higher level of divergent thinking
than monolingual children but warns that these benefits are only applied
to balanced bilinguals, highlighting the importance for both teachers
and parents of supporting the child’s adjustment to new environments
while preserving aspects of their original culture and language.
37. Conteh (2012); McDermott (2008); Parke,
Drury, Kenner & Robertson (2002)
96
•McDermott (2008) suggests that one way to prevent the loss of native
language skills is to provide support to community language schools
(a number of which are emerging in the UK), which in turn could have a
positive effect on the perceptions of community languages and promote
a greater respect for bilingualism.
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However in relation to the learning of EAL pupils, Pagett (2006) suggests it is also
worth noting that there may be a tension between schools’ efforts to build upon
the children’s use of the home language and their reluctance to use it in a school
setting where the dominant language is English and where they would prefer to
appear ‘like everybody else’. She advises schools to consider strategies that value
EAL learners’ commonality with the school culture, although in our two case
studies, this aspect did not seem to be prevalent. There was more recognition of
the differences in educational background and culture than commonality with the
culture of the school.
A strategy outlined by Dakin (2012) involved a successful project in which primary
level EAL pupils created illustrated books in English and their home language with
the collaboration of parents and other community members. In a similar vein,
Wardman, Bell and Sharp (2010) reported how teachers in an English primary
school implemented a ‘language-buddies’ scheme and a ‘Pashto club’ which
raised the confidence of the EAL workforce through increasing understanding of
second language acquisition, while helping to support the pupils’ maintenance of
their L1 alongside their learning of English.
A more controversial approach suggests that the label of ‘EAL’ in itself may not be
a good guide to levels of attainment, and that there is a much stronger relationship
between stage of fluency in English and educational achievement (see Strand
& Demie 2005; 2006). The EALAW (2003) study for example suggested that the
achievement of EAL learners should be considered alongside other influential
factors such as their proficiency in English, gender, attendance at school, time
spent in the UK, socio-economic background and parental education and literacy.
This begs the question about whether schools have sufficient knowledge about
the social/educational background of EAL students’ backgrounds and school
history, and whether the initial assessment and tests of EAL students’ academic
performance are sufficiently sensitive to issues relating to EAL student’s academic
level and potential. In the next section we consider these issues.
A more controversial
approach suggests that the
label of ‘EAL’ in itself may
not be a good guide to levels
of attainment, and that
there is a much stronger
relationship between stage
of fluency in English and
educational achievement
(see Strand & Demie 2005;
2006).
9.4 Knowledge, assessment and communication
Both knowledge about EAL students’ backgrounds, and adequate communication
structures between the school and EAL students and their parents are identified
as important factors in the triangular relationship between language development,
social integration and education achievement. Yet we found this aspect of school
practice to be problematic for a number of reasons. Although the teaching staff we
interviewed knew about the linguistic background of the EAL students, knowledge
about other relevant aspects of the students’ educational backgrounds and
abilities and skills seemed to be scarce. Schools had only little formal information
about EAL students’ prior attainment before coming to England. Knowledge
regarding the socio-economic background of such students’ families prior to
coming to England seemed to be unavailable to the school which they were
attending. The initial assessment of EAL students was made difficult by the lack
of English of parents, the lack of school records, the problem of testing in English,
and the reluctance of students and parents to discuss the latters’ prior educational
experiences and attainment
There are also other forms of knowledge about EAL students that can be
acquired whilst these students are in school. Without much contact (as we have
seen in our study), teachers might have made wrong assumptions about the
educational backgrounds of families when they heard about the family members’
employment in England. Below we consider first the nature of initial assessment
of achievement and English proficiency levels and educational achievement, before
exploring in more depth the contact our two case study schools had with the
parents of EAL students.
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SCHOOL APPROACHES TO THE EDUCATION OF EAL STUDENTS: LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT, SOCIAL INTEGRATION AND ACHIEVEMENT
The assessment of EAL learners
The complex nature of both formative and summative assessment of EAL learners
has generated a number of research papers and reports. Researchers in the
Anglophone world are calling for an appropriate English proficiency test (see
Demie & Strand, 2006, Strand & Demie, 2005).
One of the first issues to arise when EAL learners join a school is how to
correctly identify and classify them. Abedi (2008) states that “the most important
prerequisite to providing appropriate instruction and fair and valid assessment for
English Language Learners (ELL) students is to correctly identify them” (p.28), yet
it seems as though EAL learners are too often considered to be ‘learning disabled’
and/or classified as SEN rather than simply being less proficient in English
(August, 2003; IOE, 2009).
There are several studies outlined which focus on this matter. Interestingly, many
such studies are conducted in the US, which is not surprising when one considers
that there is a wider variety of programmes in which EAL learners could be placed.
The US, Canada and Australia use assessment frameworks developed specifically
for EAL learners both within specialized language programmes and in mainstream
education. A major strength of these frameworks is that they not only highlight
the distinctiveness of EAL, but also distinguish between different groups of EAL
learners and between individual learners. However, despite the US having such a
framework, within the American-based literature38 all commentators call for the
quality of assessment for EAL learners to be improved.
In the UK, Scott and Erduran (2004) argue that the national arrangement for the
assessment of EAL learners is inadequately based on a combination of National
Curriculum descriptors developed for mother-tongue speakers together with a
range of EAL descriptors developed individually by local education authorities and
schools.39 They call for a framework to be developed to make sense of language
development and assessment of EAL learners, which should clarify between
assessment for English and assessment for EAL and between a grammar-based
view of English and a cross-curriculum view of English (Leung & Rea-Dickins,
2007).
One of the main issues identified with existing assessments is that they need to
take into consideration that these students are forced to perform double the work
of native English speakers, in developing proficiency in English and academic
English at the same time, yet are being held to the same accountability standards
(Short & Fitzsimmons, 2007).
In their investigation of large-scale standardised assessments, Abedi et al. (2003)
identified major differences between EAL and non-EAL responses. They found
that the more linguistically complex the test, the greater the disparity between
the results of EAL and non-EAL students. Overall, the study suggested that highlanguage load test items in assessment of content (for example, in mathematics
and science tests), may act as a source of measurement error for EAL students.
38. Abedi (2007), Clewell & Consentino de
Cohen (2007), Short & Fitzsimmons (2007)
and Solorzano (2008)
39. Gardner & Rea-Dickins (2001), Rea-Dickins
(2001) and Teasdale & Leung (2000)
40. Francis, Rivera, Lesaux, Kieffer and Rivera
(2006), Kieffer, Lesaux, Rivera & Francis
(2009), Rivera, Acosta & Willner (2008) and
Willner, Rivera & Acosta (2009)
98
As a result of such problems being identified, there are accommodations and
allowances which can be made for EAL learners during assessments such as the
use of a dictionary, making individual assessment decisions and providing them
with a language assistant. However concern has been expressed40 that many
accommodations in use are not particularly effective, are not always distinguished
from accommodations designed for students with disabilities and do not actually
address the linguistic needs of EAL learners.
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According to Kieffer, et al., (2009), the single accommodation with clear evidence
of effectiveness is providing students with an English dictionary or glossary, which
resulted in a 10 -25% reduction in the performance gap between EAL and non-EAL
learners - however only if they are used to using a dictionary as part of classroom
instruction.Test-makers should therefore consider the challenges faced by EAL
learners and any accommodations made must be designed to address the unique
linguistic and sociocultural needs of the student without impacting the concept
being tested.41
The initial assessment of EAL students is made difficult by the lack of English
of parents, the lack of school records, the problem of testing in English, and the
potential ‘silence’ of students themselves in giving information about what they
had learnt before coming to the UK and how they had learnt (e.g. mathematics). In
order to avoid EAL pupils being wrongly ‘diagnosed’ as having learning disabilities,
Layton and Lock (2002) suggest that all teachers should receive training in
the second language acquisition process in order to discern the sometimes
subtle differences between typical language development and the presence
of concomitant learning disabilities, while Short and Fitzsimmons (2007) state
the need for common criteria for identifying EAL learners and tracking their
performance. Abedi (2008) also suggests that other relevant variables such as the
student’s proficiency in their first language and the number of years they have
spent in this case in the US should also be taken into consideration
There is also concern about how EAL learners are tracked and if necessary,
‘reclassified’. In his study which focuses on issues relating to the reclassification
of students from limited to fluent English proficiency, Linquanti (2001) concludes
that if this is done poorly it can exacerbate educational inequality, lack of
accountability and student failure. He calls for educators to be trained in
reclassifying students and for more research-informed policies to be implemented
in schools.
McLaughlin (1992) also claims that teachers often “mainstream” EAL learners
who are capable of conversational English into an all-English classroom too
soon (a strategy noted by some teachers in Windscott Academy), and stresses
that proficiency in oral communication skills does not mean that a child has the
complex academic language skills needed for classroom activities. In fact, Slama
(2012) found that large numbers of high school EAL learners who had spent nine
or more years in the US still had not developed sufficient academic language
needed to perform mainstream academic work in English.
The first phase of our research did not focus on this aspect of knowledge and
communication. In the second phase, the initial assessment and continuous
monitoring of EAL students’ progress will be investigated.
One of the ways in which
knowledge about EAL
students’ capabilities can
be improved is through
sufficiently focused and
developed communication
systems, both within
the school between EAL
students and the school,
between teachers, and
between the school and the
community of EAL parents.
Communication
One of the ways in which knowledge about EAL students’ capabilities can be
improved is through sufficiently focused and developed communication systems,
both within the school between EAL students and the school, between teachers,
and between the school and the community of EAL students’ parents. As section
8 indicated there are a number of important issues here that relate to whether
language development of EAL students can be improved, whether EAL students
and their families could feel integrated into the school culture and whether the
achievement of EAL students could be raised by more effective communication
systems.
Both Brenton Primary School and Windscott Academy teachers showed that these
initiatives were useful in facilitating and improving formal communication with
41. Willner, Rivera & Acosta (2009)
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SCHOOL APPROACHES TO THE EDUCATION OF EAL STUDENTS: LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT, SOCIAL INTEGRATION AND ACHIEVEMENT
EAL students and their families. The EAL coordinator (primary school) and the
EAL Lead Teacher (secondary school) saw themselves as communication hubs in
both schools for pupils, staff and parents. The sorts of strategies Brenton Primary
School, in particular, used to communicate with EAL students and with their
parents involved for example:,
• Bilingual teaching assistants;
•Google Translate which was particularly useful for letters sent to
EAL students’ homes;
• Parentmail and parent groups;
•‘Buddying’ initiatives for new EAL student arrivals and parents at
the primary school; and,
• Young interpreters’ programmes for non-EAL students.
With regard to EAL parent communication generally, it seemed that the primary
school was focusing more on this aspect than the secondary school. The relative
newness of these strategies meant that their effects on parents’ engagement could
not be identified at this stage. The interviews with teachers however suggested
that such initiatives were productive in terms of in engaging EAL students and
their parents who were newly arrived and had low levels of English. They used as a
marker the fact that those EAL students who had entered lower classes had caught
up with their non-EAL counterparts by the time they left for secondary school.
In contrast, the interviews with Brenton Primary School staff indicated that the
communication process was also characterised by ambiguities and potentially
(wrong) assumptions. There is always a danger that without sufficient information
about EAL students’ parents, teachers may think that EAL students come from
unemployed and disadvantaged families when in fact in many cases they are
employed and have considerable educational skills. Migrant families often
experience down-skilling when arriving in England (Schneider and Holman, 2011).
Building on knowledge of
an EAL student’s culture
and language is clearly
an important part of a
communication system.
At the secondary level, such assumptions can also be a problem. Windscott
Academy’s communication with EAL students’ parents was fragmented.
The interviews with teachers highlighted that messages to parents via the
bilingual teaching assistant were often negative (e.g. relating to attendance and
behaviour issues). It was also more difficult to identify and judge the success
of communication initiatives at secondary level. Judging the success of such
communication strategies was problematic in a large school with over 240 EAL
students on the roll.
Our interviews revealed that neither the primary nor the secondary school seemed
to have a formal system of gathering such background knowledge about EAL
students and their families, disseminating the knowledge they had amongst staff
in the school and using parent-teacher relationships to help support the EAL
students’ learning.
Building on knowledge of an EAL student’s culture and language is clearly an
important part of a communication system. There are various ways in which this
can be achieved. For example, partnership teaching with EAL teachers or the use
of bilingual teachers have been suggested. Our research however does not indicate
that these strategies are being used. Gardner (2006) suggested that partnership
talk between the monolingual English speaking subject teachers and specialised
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SECTION 10: RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IMPROVING SCHOOL PRACTICE
EAL teachers can develop an understanding and appreciation of the roles, skills
and linguistic behaviour of the other. This may in turn have rewards in terms of
easier joint planning and more positive perceptions of EAL in schools by children
and staff generally. A careful analysis of the language capabilities of teachers in
the UK has also been recommended as there is significant untapped linguistic
potential amongst bilingual EAL teachers but also in the teaching profession
generally. Schools might use such skills to offer teaching in heritage/community
languages (potentially at GCSE level)42.
Local authority advisors where they still exist can offer important help in
facilitating and enhancing communication with EAL pupils, their parents and
school staff. Although primary schools may be in contact with this service (relating
to the admission procedure, parental engagement and students’ assessment) it
was not clear whether secondary schools use the services provided by the local
authority. It is not clear whether the fact that Academies have to pay for EAL
support service has a differential impact on the achievement of EAL students.
42. E.g EALAW(2003); Hakuta, Butler & Witt
(2000); Slama (2012).
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SCHOOL APPROACHES TO THE EDUCATION OF EAL STUDENTS: LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT, SOCIAL INTEGRATION AND ACHIEVEMENT
SECTION 3:
THE EAST OF ENGLAND PROJECT:
CONCEPTUAL AND RESEARCH FRAMEWORKS
The East of England
SECTION
10: is an interesting region to conduct research on
EAL learners because of the relative high numbers of migrants coming
to the region and, in particular, migrants
from countries which
have
RECOMMENDATIONS
FOR
IMPROVING
SCHOOL
most recently joined the European Union (the so-called A8 countries).
PRACTICE
Another characteristic of the area relates to the clusters of poverty and
disadvantage within some of its rural areas where migrants have moved
to and have been actively recruited to by employers. This rural context
is relatively under-researched with the result that the link between
migration and rural poverty and rural schools is not generally recognised.
Below we outline in more detail the demography of the region and the
migration characteristics.
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SECTION 10: RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IMPROVING SCHOOL PRACTICE
The following outlines our recommendations relating to research, language
development, social integration, educational achievement, communication and
knowledge in relation to primary and secondary schooling. We also consider the
implications for teacher education and development.
10.1 D
eveloping research on EAL students’ school
education
Far more investigation is required to answer the sorts of questions which our
project has raised – in particular the relationship between linguistic issues, social
integration and achievement issues. More research is needed to enhance our
knowledge of how to improve the educational achievement and social integration
of EAL students through language development, and by so doing, reduce social and
academic disadvantage. This could usefully be shaped by the following aims:
More research is needed
to enhance our knowledge
of how to improve the
educational achievement
and social integration of
EAL students through
language development, and
by so doing, reduce social
and academic disadvantage.
1. the identification of successful pedagogical practices in EAL teaching
and learning particularly in the demographically changing areas of
the UK. Ideally this research would be larger scale (rather than just
small scale classroom based research of teachers’ perceptions).
Longitudinal studies which combine qualitative and quantitative data
on EAL and non-EAL students would be beneficial. More experimental
or quasi-experimental intervention and evaluative studies are needed
which take account of differing local and school contexts.
2. the assessment and tracking of individual student progress from
initial assessment on admission, at regular stages in succeeding
years and at performance in examinations so as to assess the
effectiveness of different pedagogic strategies in helping language
development, promoting educational achievement and social
integration.
3. the identification of the particular linguistic and cultural challenges
that different school subjects (history, science, mathematics) pose
for newly arrived EAL students learning these subjects in English.
This pedagogic knowledge could be developed centrally through the
work of language education researchers and subject associations,
and locally through practitioner research strategies in which teachers
and schools build their own understandings of the subject-related
academic needs of their EAL pupils.
4. uncovering the experiences of those seen as the ‘foreigner’ child and
possible tensions in terms of resourcing for EAL needs and continuity
of support.
5. the analysis of EAL parents’ engagement patterns (regarding
participation in school events and homework) and the identification
of strategies which have a positive effect on parental engagement.
This can be coupled usefully with an exploration of how stronger
communications with the community of EAL students’ parents
can be achieved and how support from local authority networks
and community projects could be used to assist in such research
endeavours.
There is a need to access EAL children especially those most in difficulty although
access through schools can be problematic. So too is finding translators to help
collect data in and outside school which also complicates the research process.
More sharing of good research practice would be beneficial.
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SCHOOL APPROACHES TO THE EDUCATION OF EAL STUDENTS: LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT, SOCIAL INTEGRATION AND ACHIEVEMENT
10.2 Promoting English language development (L2) at
primary and secondary school level
Below we have listed some of the elements which for our study and our reading of
relevant research appear to be key to the successful promotion of EAL children’s
proficiency in English and its use in schools. These include:
1. a
n acknowledgement of the existence of different languages both
inside and outside the classroom by developing a whole-school
‘language for all’ strategy. This would increase general awareness
of the importance of languages in relation to inclusion and diversity.
Such a strategy could be developed in consultation with students,
teachers, parents, local authorities and other relevant parties.
2. e
mphasising the importance of English for access to learning
and pedagogical context as well as communication but also
acknowledging that multilingual practices are valued.
3. d
eveloping a school-wide language policy in relation to the use
of different languages in the school, and the development of
appropriate approaches to the use of home languages in the
school and classroom. The policy would need to be developed in
consultation with students, teachers, parents, local authorities and
other relevant parties. The purpose would be to provide transparent
information about the linguistic needs of EAL and non-EAL students.
4. p
roviding illustrative case profiles in individual schools, reflecting
different learning trajectories of EAL learners in terms of social
integration, language development and educational achievement.
These case profiles can provide three types of information: a
visual representation of the trajectory, a narrative of the student’s
experience and a case-specific video for teacher training. A national
resource bank could be developed to link school profiles and
representative individual case profiles.
5. d
efining a staged-approach to curriculum-based English language
support which would align with different learning trajectories of EAL
learners. The initial support within the first six months needs to be
continued in order to take the English skills of EAL students to an
advanced (academic) level.
104
SECTION 10: RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IMPROVING SCHOOL PRACTICE
10.3 E
ncouraging social integration at primary and
secondary school level
Our research and that of others suggests that what is required of schools is to
improve the relationship between language development and social integration.
This ideally should involve:
1. clearer understandings of what constitutes social integration and
what role the school should play in the classroom, playground and in
relation to out of school youth cultures.
2. a focus on the issues relating to the ways in which social class
and gender, relations between national/linguistic groups, and
the relationship between established and newly arrived students
impacts on social integration.
3. building on the positive impact of strategies for the social
integration of EAL children in school, especially after the early
stages of welcoming newly-arrived EAL children.
4. locating the responsibility for supporting social integration in all
year groups and key stages.
5. being aware of possible negative aspects of social interactions
between EAL students and non-EAL students and taking a strong
ethical/disciplinary line in relation to xenophobic incidents, and
situations where EAL students are isolated, and the linguistic/social
tensions associated with EAL student friendship groups speaking
their home language and thus excluding non-EAL students.
6. ensuring that school policies on bullying or harassment address
conflicts between EAL and non-EAL students as well as within these
groups.
7. recognition of the multilingual profile of the school which involves
validating the bilingualism of EAL students (if not multilingualism),
encouraging reference to home languages within the context of
learning, social ethos and values of the school.
8. being aware of the implications for all students of the composition of
different classes and tutorial groups by focusing on the ratio of EAL/
non-EAL students and the dangers of clustering EAL students in
lower sets. The danger of automatically locating EAL students with
SEN students’ needs to be avoided (see IOE 2009).
9. achieving clarity on the strategies required to help social integration
and in relation to this, the attitudes towards EAL students’ use of L1
in school. This can involve developing continuity between effective
strategies to promote integration in the classroom and outside the
classroom.
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SCHOOL APPROACHES TO THE EDUCATION OF EAL STUDENTS: LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT, SOCIAL INTEGRATION AND ACHIEVEMENT
10. strengthening links between school and parents and encouraging
links between parents is essential for the purpose of encouraging
social integration in the local community and between EAL and
non-EAL youth. EAL students’ parents need to play an active role
in the education of their children but this requires effort on the part
of the school to help them integrate into the school community. The
possibility of running induction courses for all family members is one
such suggestion.
11. reconsidering the terminology used regarding EAL learners by
researching the effectiveness of this category as an educational
instrument and a means of ensuring social integration without
incurring social stigmatisation.
106
SECTION 10: RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IMPROVING SCHOOL PRACTICE
10.4 I mproving the educational achievement of EAL
students at primary and secondary level
This project has highlighted the various ways in which the educational achievement
of EAL students can be improved. These rely on more focused data collection by
schools and policy-makers on patterns of achievement and to provide information
at school level about EAL students’ academic progression. They include:
1. developing statistical categories of EAL which offer further subdimensions such as the level of education before arriving in the UK,
types of learning environments and practices in the home country,
social class indicators such as free school meals and gender issues.
2. ensuring the monitoring of EAL students’ progression so that all
teachers are aware of the variations of EAL students’ achievements in
their subject/classes. Such monitoring would need to be sufficiently
detailed to take account of educational and social variables so that
some explanatory models might be offered for differential patterns of
achievement between EAL and non-EAL students and within the EAL
category.
3. evaluating the range of pedagogic strategies that best support
EAL students in terms of the use of L1 in the classroom, bilingual
classrooms, different ways of improving English language
development through resources, task setting, and support systems
in the classroom. There is no ‘silver bullet’ in terms of improving
the achievement of a diverse group of EAL students who come from
different socio-economic backgrounds, from different educational
systems and who need support to be able to succeed in different
school and subject cultures
4. promoting detailed experimental research on such proposed teaching
and learning strategies to inform teachers and policy makers of the
likely effectiveness of particular interventions.
5. raising EAL students’ academic confidence, particularly at secondary
level. Such confidence is affected by the level of English proficiency
in the classroom and particularly restricts the choice of subjects for
GCSE. Academic confidence is also affected by the levels of social
integration in the school. More research is needed to discover how
to sustain EAL students’ confidence as learners, whether learning
Curriculum English is a particularly important element of this, and
whether other strategies are needed to ensure that such students are
given opportunities to excel.
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SCHOOL APPROACHES TO THE EDUCATION OF EAL STUDENTS: LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT, SOCIAL INTEGRATION AND ACHIEVEMENT
10.5 I mproving knowledge, assessment and
communication
Our research signals that there is a need to encourage more transfers of
knowledge about the EAL families, their motivations and aspirations, levels
of support and their concerns for their children’s education to improve
communication with EAL families and to avoid (potential) stereotyping which
restrict the schools’ view of such families.
Recommendations include:
1. g
athering more detailed knowledge about individual students at
admissions. A questionnaire (translated into different languages of
the countries of origin) could be completed by the parents during the
admission procedure; gathering information about country of origin,
pupil’s achievement prior to coming to the school and/or England;
parents’ employment and educational backgrounds in country of
origin in England. This would improve the accuracy of assumptions
about pupils’ backgrounds and enhance communication between
teachers, senior management staff, EAL pupils and their parents.
2. improving general school knowledge about countries of origin
(e.g. geographical, economic, social, educational, key words) by
using websites as well as through EAL community based events.
Information could be put on the school website to be accessed by
school staff, EAL and non-EAL students and their parents.
3. e
stablishing a strong systematic assessment system (including an
appropriate English proficiency test) should be built in the school
curriculum, which aims to differentiate the linguistic and cognitive
abilities of newly arrived EAL learners, particularly in the first six
months. Research is needed to consider how far should the mother
tongue be used in such a system.
4. e
nsuring careful consideration of how EAL learners are assessed,
classified and located within school groupings, classes and sets such
that they are not assumed to be ‘learning disabled’ given their lack of
English proficiency.
5. d
istinguishing through appropriate formative and summative
assessment43 and testing between different groups of EAL learners
and individual learners ensuring that both grammar based and cross
curriculum views of English are taken into account. This implies
monitoring EAL learners’ cognitive academic language proficiency
(CALP) that is appropriate for different school subjects.
43. Formative assessment usually refers
to a range of classroom assessment
procedures which aim to monitor students’
learning progress. It can provide on-going
feedback for teachers to improve their
teaching and for students to improve their
learning. Formative assessment is often
contrasted with summative assessment
which aims to evaluate students’ learning
attainment at a particular time point with
reference to standardized benchmarks for
intended learning outcomes.
108
6. e
nsuring that there is an adequate system of monitoring, tracking
and, if necessary, ‘reclassifying’ EAL learners as they progress
through schooling.
SECTION 10: RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IMPROVING SCHOOL PRACTICE
Communication
A variety of recommendations for improving a schools’ communication strategy
are suggested by our research and that of relevant literature on this theme. For
example, schools could consider:
1. developing a clear structure (e.g. flow chart) outlining school
communication structures regarding EAL which can be disseminated
to teachers, EAL pupils, and their parents and senior management.
2. establishing efficient ways of communicating positive and negative
messages to EAL (and non-EAL) students’ parents, for example,
through ParentMail. Some basic messages (positive and negative)
could be translated for teachers so that templates in different
languages are easily available to them to communicate with parents.
3. developing a formal and systematic communication strategy in the
classroom and the school (e.g. assemblies) about the countries of
origin of school students (e.g. portfolio project in geography). This
would improve the communication about EAL students’ countries
of origin within the classroom as schools often use sporadic and
irregular strategies including some but not all countries of origin
and EAL pupils.
4. enhancing the communication between the parents of EAL and
non-EAL students, to increase the engagement of latter in their
children’s schooling and to improve relations between EAL and
non-EAL pupils. There is a key role to be played by school governors,
particularly parent governors and community groups/centres. Such
communication could help diffuse potential stereotyping and social
conflict between EAL and non-EAL communities.
5. making available ESOL classes for EAL students’ parents helps to
improve parents’ language development and social integration and
can potentially lead to more effective support strategies with regard
to their children’s learning and achievement.
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SCHOOL APPROACHES TO THE EDUCATION OF EAL STUDENTS: LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT, SOCIAL INTEGRATION AND ACHIEVEMENT
10.6 A
holistic school approach to EAL
support
Our research suggests that there is a need to debate whether or not the label of
EAL is useful, not least because it does not necessarily correspond to levels of
attainment in different subjects. The level of fluency in English might have more
relevance for educational achievement but so too might social class, ethnicity
and gender, attendance at school in the country of origin, time spent in the UK,
parental education and literacy. The collection of more detailed and sophisticated
data on the educational patterns of children with no or only little familiarity with
English may encourage more questioning of the value of the category which
underpins educational achievement on the level of language development as the
sole explanatory variable.
Closing achievement gaps between EAL and non-EAL students is clearly difficult
not least since the gap in attainment can work in one direction one year and in
the opposite direction in the next, and achievement patterns in English might be
different from achievement patterns in, say, mathematics. There is a need to define
what represents an achievement gap in this area and what represents substantial
achievement for those students who arrive in the UK without English language
proficiency.
The initial exploration of the relationship between language development, social
integration and educational achievement has exposed the need for schools to take
account of these three important dimensions when addressing the needs of EAL
students. These dimensions focus attention on the need to develop a more holistic
and integrated approach to school provision and practice whether at the primary or
secondary level.
Drawing on our research, we have identified those major aspects which appear to
be essential to the development of an EAL learner’s academic process and social
integration into the culture of English schools and their curricula:
•the establishment of good practice across the school in relation to
management, classroom pedagogic and learning strategies, and
whole school ethos
•the monitoring and evaluation of good practice and continuous
assessment of the effectiveness of such practice
•the successful integration of the school into the EAL parental
community with the possibility of drawing on this community to help
in educating the EAL child.
110
SECTION 10: RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IMPROVING SCHOOL PRACTICE
A holistic systematic approach to school provision of support for EAL children
involves four different aspects all of which, if in place, would assist in supporting
the above goals:
a.Information (on family backgrounds, prior educational history and
records, appropriate testing and progress monitoring and comparison
between EAL and non-EAL levels of achievement taking into account
relevant variables);
b.Coordination within the school of all categories of staff, support and
assistant staff (in terms of EAL policy, planning, organisation and
allocation of resources and budget, appropriate pedagogic strategies
and rules about the relationship between for example L1 and English
language development, integrated approaches to EAL elements in
teacher training and professional development programmes);
c.Support for the EAL child and family (in all areas: social integration,
achievement, monitoring, prevention of bullying, valuing of other
cultures and languages, taking social disadvantage and other relevant
variables into account); and,
d.Communication (in school between management and teachers,
between school and parents, teacher and pupils, specialist and
general teachers and between pupils themselves).
These four dimensions are described visually in Figure 2 below:
INFORMATION
COORDINATION
EDUCATIONAL
ACHIEVEMENT
EAL
STUDENTS
LANGUAGE
DEVELOPMENT
SOCIAL
INTEGRATION
SUPPORT
COMMUNICATION
Figure 2: A holistic school approach
In the second stage of our research programme we intend to explore these
elements further.
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SCHOOL APPROACHES TO THE EDUCATION OF EAL STUDENTS: LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT, SOCIAL INTEGRATION AND ACHIEVEMENT
Teacher education and development
Finally our school based inquiry highlights the need, as others have done, to
consider the provision of initial and professional education for the teaching
profession so as to be well prepared for teaching in multilingual schools,
especially where there are groups of EAL students. The presence of EAL
students can be a source of tension for teachers although many hold positive
attitudes, some might be less supportive.44 Of those who believe in the benefits
of bilingualism, they might yet implement strategies in their classrooms which
draw on their own language learning beliefs and teaching experience (MacKinney
and Rios-Aguilar, 2012). Efforts to improve teachers’ strategies in relation to
unfamiliar cultural and linguistic barriers can reduce their sense of self-efficacy
as teachers (Haworth, 2008). Cultural awareness is therefore not sufficient if there
is not experience of supporting EAL children, and overcoming the view that EAL
pupils do not threaten the accomplishment of lessons, or teachers’ sense of their
own competence45.
There have been several studies into teacher training programmes which call for
more pre-service and in-service training to support teachers in dealing with the
cultural and linguistic diversity of the classroom. Butcher et al., (2007) criticised
teacher education in England for paying bilingualism “lip service at best” and
“persisting with a policy discourse emphasising the problem of EAL” (p.483). They
call for more training to improve teacher confidence and competence in England’s
increasingly linguistically diverse classrooms,46 a sentiment echoed by many
authors with some also noting the absence of nationally agreed content areas
which have led to Continuing Professional Development (CPD) provision that is
reactive rather than progressive47.
Central to this field is the development of teachers’ intercultural awareness In
order to avoid EAL pupils being wrongly ‘diagnosed’ as having learning disabilities.
As we saw in Section 9.4, Layton and Lock (2002) suggest that all teachers should
receive training in the second language acquisition process in order to discern
the sometimes subtle differences between typical language development and the
presence of concomitant learning disabilities.
The following studies recommend that such training for teachers should include:
•an appreciation of how new languages are learned
(Conteh & Brock, 2011);
•the provision of placements for trainee teachers to work with EAL
pupils (Hall & Cajkler, 2008); and,
44. Karabenick & Noda (2004)
•training should be long-term, not just one day or one hour inservice sessions (Hansen-Thomas & Cavagnetto, 2010).
45. Mistry & Sood (2010); Sood & Mistry (2011);
Walters (2007)
46. Barnard & Burgess (2001), Cajkler & Hall
(2009, 2012a and b), Conteh & Brock (2011),
Green (2012), Hall & Cajkler (2008), Mistry
& Sood (2012) and NALDIC (2009)
47. Similar training needs have been identified
in Northern Ireland (Skinner, 2010),
Ireland (Murtagh & Francis, 2012; Nowlan,
2008), Canada and South Africa (BretonCarbonneau, Cleghorn, Evans & Pesco,
2012) and in the US (Hansen-Thomas &
Cavagnetto, 2010; Pettit, 2011).
112
However Khong and Saito (2013) warn that even the development of strong teacher
education programmes may not be sufficient to help teachers overcome all the
challenges they face in teaching EAL learners, and they stress that concerned
efforts must also be made by local and central administrators, academics, local
communities and law makers.
SECTION 10: RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IMPROVING SCHOOL PRACTICE
Our case study fieldwork suggests that there are many training related issues
that arise in relation to supporting EAL students within the three dimensions
of language development, social integration and educational achievement. We
strongly recommend that this interactive triangular model is used to inform
all modes of initial teacher education and professional development. Teacher
research in this area would be invaluable, in partnership with teacher education
providers and educational researchers.
10.7 Conclusions
Overall, the project has started to identify potential links between language
development, social integration and educational achievement. However, more
data need to be collected to make stronger assertions about the interrelationship
between the three dimensions. The next two years of the project (2014-15) intend
to collect wider quantitative and qualitative data to follow up these potential links
and recommendations outlined above.
We strongly recommend
that this interactive
triangular model is used to
inform all modes of initial
teacher education and
professional development.
Teacher research in this
area would be invaluable,
in partnership with teacher
education providers and
educational researchers.
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SCHOOL APPROACHES TO THE EDUCATION OF EAL STUDENTS: LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT, SOCIAL INTEGRATION AND ACHIEVEMENT
Appendix 1
EAL Enrolment at Brenton Primary School
2012-2013
3 mid year New to English Arrivals
2012-2013
9 mid year EAL leavers
Chinese 6 children
Dutch / Flemish 2 children
Albanian / Shquip 2 children
Bengali 42 children
Hindi 1 child
Arabic 1 child
Latvain 2 children
Ukranian 1 child
Lithuanian 3 children
Swahili 1 child
Kiswahili 1 child
Telagu 1 child
Thai 2 children
Sinhala 1 child
Vietnamese 1 child
Portuguese 1 child
Persian / Farsi 2 children
Malayalam 6 children
German 3 children
French 4 children
Polish 14 children
122
Appendix
Appendix 2
EAL Enrolment at Windscott Academy (2013)
Year 7
Year 8
Year 9
Year 10
Year 11
Lithuanian
31
19
24
32
35
Polish
16
10
9
12
8
Russian
13
5
4
4
3
Latvian
5
8
10
4
3
Portuguese
2
5
7
7
7
Bengali
2
1
1
0
0
Czech
1
1
0
0
0
Hindi
0
1
0
0
0
Slovak
1
0
2
0
0
Tamil
0
0
1
0
0
Tagalog/Filipino
0
0
1
0
0
Hungarian
0
0
0
1
0
Total
71
50
59
60
56
123
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