Find answers to common questions that we are asked about EAL
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Do schools get extra money to support EAL learners?
Read more: Do schools get extra money to support EAL learners? »
From April 2013, whether or not schools in a local authority area get extra money to support EAL learners will be decided by the local Schools Forum. An 'EAL' factor can be included in the local funding formulae for schools but this factor is limited to bilingual pupils who have been enrolled in English schools for a maximum of 3 years. Local schools fora 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.
Whether or not schools get additional money for EAL learners will therefore vary by local area, as will the monetary value of the EAL factor. Academies in areas which have approved an EAL factor will have equivalent EAL funds included in their budgets, depending on the number of eligible pupils they have on roll.
Must EAL pupils who are new to English take national tests and assessments?
Read more: Must EAL pupils who are new to English take national tests and assessments? »
In general, EAL learners are expected to take national tests and statutory assessments. In assessments and tests relating to National Curriculum English, learners' answers are required in English. Some access arrangements can be made in other subjects, such as mathematics. If learners are beginners in English, whilst they will be registered for the tests, they are not required to sit the tests if they are working too far below the expected level and will be coded as working below the level of the test. Where a primary school's results are published in national performance tables, newly arrived EAL learners can be discounted from these tables where: they were admitted to an English school for the first time after the beginning of school year preceding the year of the tests; and they arrived from overseas before their admission; and their first language is not English. Dialects of English such as Patois or Krio will not be accepted as a language other than English.
EAL students' results in GCSE examinations can also be discounted from the secondary school performance tables if they meet similar criteria.
Is synthetic phonics teaching helpful to bilingual learners?
Read more: Is synthetic phonics teaching helpful to bilingual learners? »
There is still limited research specifically on the effectiveness of synthetic phonics with bilingual children but broadly speaking the consensus is that whilst synthetic phonics teaching and the development of phonological awareness will contribute to bilingual learners’ English reading development, this should not supplant EAL language development work. The ability to decode, a skill which many EAL learners develop rapidly, is often not accompanied by the comprehension skills necessary for achievement within the educational system. Care must be taken to ensure that the teaching of phonics does not displace other activities which support the language and literacy development of bilingual children.
Is there an EAL curriculum?
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No, there is no nationally agreed curriculum for school aged EAL learners in England.
In England, the policy since the mid 1980s is that EAL learners, with all learners, should have equal access to the National Curriculum with no specific EAL curriculum. The focus has been on delivering National Curriculum English , which has been considered a good model for both first and additional language learning.
Is there a nationally agreed EAL assessment system?
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No. The statutory requirements for assessing pupils with EAL are the same as that for pupils with English as a first language. Teachers are expected to use the National Curriculum English attainment levels for the assessment of the English language development of pupils with EAL. However many schools do use different assessment methods and materials, including EAL stages.
Should I be using 'P' scales to record the progress of early stage EAL learners?
Read more: Should I be using 'P' scales to record the progress of early stage EAL learners? »
No. The P scales must not be used to assess children with EAL at any age, unless they have additional special educational needs. The SEN Code of Practice is quite clear that:
A child or young person does not have a learning difficulty or disability solely because the language (or form of language) in which he or she is or will be taught is different from a language (or form of language) which is or has been spoken at home.
Teachers are expected to use the National Curriculum English attainment levels for the statutory assessment of the English language development of pupils with EAL. However many schools use different assessment methods and materials, including EAL stages to record bilingual learners progress. .
How do I become an EAL teacher?
Read more: How do I become an EAL teacher? »
In order to teach (and be paid as a qualified teacher) in maintained primary and secondary schools in England, you will need to have qualified teacher status. Currently you cannot qualify as an EAL specialist directly. You first need to take initial teacher training either as a class teacher in a primary school or a subject teacher in a secondary school. The Teaching Agency website explains possible routes and courses.