I work in a large secondary school (age 11 – 18) in the East Midlands. As the new academic year begins, there are a number of things to consider when supporting EAL learners. Below I will list some of the priorities I feel are important when working in EAL.
- New Year 7s – a new cohort of Y7s and as the EAL department we conduct a language survey (read more here). This survey helps us identify the languages spoken, how long learners have lived in the UK and whether they received any additional support with their English language at primary school. It also helps us as a department find learners that might need additional support from the EAL department.
- Check in with our EAL learners. Any learner who is supported by the EAL department might need our help during the first few days back at school. As a department, we go and check they are ready for the new academic year. This is especially true of our KS4 learners and those in Year 10 as they are just beginning their GCSEs and might need the department’s support in understanding their new timetable and the expectations of studying for GCSEs.
- Timetables – as a department we print the timetables of EAL learners on our red, amber, green list . We also keep spare copies in the department for those learners who might lose theirs! I am very lucky that I work with 3 TAs and we use the first few days back to plan their timetables making sure we provide support to those learners in need. These learners tend to be those on DfE proficiency in English Code A & B.
- Update the learner profiles. This list is a list of EAL learners that the EAL department support. Each learner has a profile with suggested approaches and strategies that teachers can use to support that learner in the classroom. These are then shared with the whole school.
- Create Assessment profiles. It is vital that we track proficiency in English as this is a key indicator of an EAL learners attainment. We use the excellent Bell Foundation assessment tracker which you can find on their website and download for free. Whether you use the Bell tracker or others such as the NASSEA assessment tool – all those who support EAL learners should track proficiency in English alongside what is happening in the mainstream curriculum.
- Remind teachers of where information is stored. New teachers to the school will need to know where they can find information on EAL learners. I send a whole school email of key reminders.
- Update the EAL department intranet page – I use the schools’ intranet as a one stop place for teachers to use when looking for information on EAL learners. This page contains learner profiles, suggested strategies and approaches, classroom resources and any interesting articles for teachers to read on EAL.
This is not a comprehensive list of priorities for the new academic year but might give you some ideas of what EAL specialists can do during the first few days back at school.
Good luck everyone!