At Cannon Park Primary School, we have a higher-than-average proportion of children who speak English as an additional language (EAL). The government’s definition of an EAL learner includes anyone who has been exposed to a language other than English during early childhood “and continues to be exposed to this language in the home or the community”. Many EAL learners are UK-born.
Our priority is to ensure that all pupils are enabled to have access to a broad, balanced and relevant curriculum. English is best learnt through the curriculum and EAL pupils should be encouraged to play a full part in all learning opportunities. EAL learners make the best progress within a whole school context, where pupils are educated with their peers. Our school environment promotes language development through the rich use of language.
International migrants, including refugees, asylum-seekers, children of people working or studying in the UK and economic migrants from overseas, may be described as new arrivals.
New arrivals are a very diverse group. They can range from “new to English” to “fluent” in terms of their English language development. They can arrive at any age and with widely different socio-economic and educational backgrounds. Some come from privileged urban backgrounds having had a high standard of education, others have had little or interrupted schooling or may have experienced traumatic events.
Knowledge about the English language proficiency of learners using EAL is important for schools and teachers in informing the most appropriate support. At Cannon Park, we use the Bell Foundation’s award-winning EAL Assessment Framework for Schools, which provides a set of standards to assist schools in establishing English language proficiency and has been designed to support teaching and learning by enabling practitioners to generate targets to guide individual learner progress.
The following levels of proficiency in English are used within the EAL Assessment Framework for School:
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Admissions and Induction
Children learn best when they feel secure and valued, so the first challenge is to make new arrivals feel welcome and help staff to make appropriate plans to include them. Miss Tremain in the office works incredibly well to ensure our new families are supported in ensuring all paperwork is in place. Our entrance area also celebrates our diverse community with a language tree.
All new arrivals are invited to an initial meeting with Mr Ray, the head teacher, to gain information that will be useful in supporting the pupil’s learning and wellbeing. New arrivals usually start one or two days after the this meeting, which gives the class teacher time to prepare the classroom and speak to the children about the new arrival.
In class, new arrivals are paired up with a ‘buddy’, which may be shared between two or three children. If possible, we ensure one of the buddies can speak the child’s home language.
Our Language Heroes programme recognises the huge potential that exists in our school community for children of all ages to use their skills and knowledge to support new learners of English so that they feel safe, settled and valued from the start. Children in Years 4, 5 and 6 volunteer as Language Heroes to help new arrivals settle into our school community.
Bilingual pupils use their language skills in a variety of ways to help new arrivals access English and feel part of the school. Alongside English-only speakers, they learn different strategies to clarify, explain the interpret a whole range of school activities.
Our highly-skilled teachers support EAL children in a variety of ways, appropriate to their level of need. Sentence Builders are often used to support children develop their speaking and writing skills, giving children the structure to speak and to write. Subject-specific vocabulary is shared with children during lessons.
Some children may receive additional small-group interventions in order to develop English skills necessary to access the curriculum.
If a child is assessed as either ‘New to English’ or ‘Early Acquisition’, they will receive a log-in to Flash Academy, which is one of the UK’s leading EAL platforms for schools. Flash Academy includes accessible learning, which supports equal opportunities for learners to fulfil their academic potential and develop better social relationships. Children develop ambitious vocabulary and develop their knowledge of English grammar through fun, animated videos and games.