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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.

Until 2011, local authorities received an Ethnic Minority Achievement Grant (EMAG) and were required to use this to support the learning of EAL and bilingual pupils and the achievement of ethnic minority learners . This bulk of this grant was devolved to schools based on a locally agreed formula, although many local authorities retained some of the money to provide a central EAL service. In April 2011, this grant was mainstreamed into general school funding and there was no requirement for it to be spent on supporting EAL and bilingual learners. So whilst all schools with EAL and bilingual learners on roll had some monies within their budgets for EAL, they could spend this in a variety of ways. EAL and bilingual learners therefore no longer had specific funds attached to meeting their particular language learning needs.

In 1966, Section 11 of the Local Government Act made funds available to local education authorities and other agencies "to help meet the special needs of a significant number of people of commonwealth origin with language or customs which differ from the rest of the community."

In 1999, the DfEE Ethnic Minority Achievement Grant (EMAG) replaced Home Office 'Section 11' funding. This grant was distributed to local authorities on a formula basis relating to the number of EAL learners and the number of pupils from ‘underachieving’ ethnic minority groups in local authorities, combined with a free school meals indicator. The EMA grant was intended to 'narrow achievement gaps for those minority ethnic groups who are underachieving and to meet particular needs of pupils for whom English is an additional language'.

The bulk of this grant was required to be devolved to schools in a local authority area and was required to be spent only on the purposes outlined above, whether by local authorities or by schools.

In 2011, despite significant opposition, the Ethnic Minority Achievement Grant was mainstreamed into the Direct Schools Grant (DSG) and schools were allowed complete freedom over its use. A national figure of £203,995,29 of EMAG was taken into account in the revised funding formula for local authorities and schools for 2011-2012.

Since the transfer of funding responsibility from the Home Office to the DfE, the number of pupils learning EAL has risen considerably. At present, these learners of EAL have no entitlement to EAL teaching and learning nor a defined EAL curriculum. Their needs are therefore additional to the National Curriculum in schools in England. As long as this situation persists, NALDIC's position is that these pupils’ needs require additional and clearly defined funding