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Ofsted and EAL

What does Ofsted define as good practice in EAL teaching?

The progress and outcomes for EAL and bilingual pupils form part of Ofsted's inspection framework within the inspection regime which commenced in September 2012. The text of the Inspection Handbook 2014 refers specifically to EAL and ethnic minority pupils on page 34 :

129.Inspection is primarily about evaluating how well individual pupils benefit from the education provided by their school. It is important to test the school’s response to individual needs by observing how well it helps all pupils to make progress and fulfil their potential. It may be relevant to pay particular attention to the achievement of:

  • disabled pupils and those who have special educational needs

  • those with protected characteristics, including Gypsy, Roma and Traveller children,[34] as defined by the Equality Act 2010

  • boys

  • girls

  • the highest and lowest attainers

  • disadvantaged pupils, including:

    looked after children[35]

    pupils known to be eligible for free school meals – a school is unlikely to be judged outstanding if these pupils are not making at least good progress



    [34] Pupils with protected characteristics and other groups of pupils may include: pupils for whom English is an additional language; minority ethnic pupils; Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils; lesbian, gay and bisexual pupils; transgender pupils; young carers; and other vulnerable groups.

    [35] In April 2014, eligibility for pupil premium funding was extended to looked after children who have been looked after for one day or more and children who were adopted from care or left care under a Special Guardianship Order or a Child Arrangements Order.

p 34 (Ofsted 2014)

Since 2009, guidance to inspectors on what to look for in EAL teaching and learning has been brief. Although now withdrawn, English as an additional language A briefing paper for section 5 inspectors (Ofsted, 2012) included the advice that:

Specialist EAL support should be available for new arrivals from qualified teachers or teaching assistants who have received appropriate training and support. More advanced learners of English should have continuing support in line with their varying needs as they develop competencies over time. (p4)

This briefing specifyied features of good EAL practice. These included:

  • providing specialist teaching support for newer arrivals
  • providing continuing support for more advanced learners
  • monitoring EAL attainment and progress, not necessarily through QCA step descriptors from A Language in Common
  • assessing learners’ proficiency and literacy in their first language and establishing what prior subject knowledge and experience they have in other subjects
  • providing regular training for all staff on the needs of EAL learners

Under the arrangements to July 2012, inspectors were advised that 'Inspection is primarily about how individual pupils benefit from their school. It is important to test the school’s response to individual needs by observing how well it helps all pupils to make progress and fulfil their potential, especially those whose needs, dispositions, aptitudes or circumstances require particularly perceptive and expert teaching and/or additional support'. EAL and bilingual learners were included in a list of key pupil groups who might require this sort of 'perceptive and expert teaching' . Inspectors were also advised that teaching is likely to be inadequate where 'pupils or groups of pupils currently in the school are making inadequate progress'. (Ofsted, 2012 , p5)

In 2001, when EAL was considered a discrete teaching specialism (or aspect) within an inspection, Ofsted guidance to inspectors included the following key questions to identify good practice in models of teaching and support for bilingual learners:

  • Is the specialist support available managed well? Is this deployment monitored by senior managers to ensure quality of provision?
  • Does the support take account of those at an early stage of learning English as well as those who are more advanced, but still need support with developing literacy skills across the curriculum?
  • Does the headteacher timetable staff so that joint planning is possible?
  • Has the work for bilingual pupils been planned by liaison between the language support staff and class/mainstream subject teacher?
  • What is the extent of joint planning and how have the skills of both teachers been used effectively?
  • Is there a focus on both language and subject content?
  • What does the class teacher do differently by having an additional adult in the room?
  • How has the teacher's practice changed through working with an EAL specialist?
  • What contribution does the EAL specialist make to the improvement of standards?
  • How effective is the collaboration?
  • Are these features of good practice evident in withdrawal classes?
  • Is any withdrawal support time-limited and are the outcomes reviewed regularly?
  • Does all withdrawal work follow the National Curriculum?
  • Are the differences between pupils who need to learn English and those who have learning difficulties clear and understood by all staff?
  • Are experienced EAL staff enabled to play a strategic role in school by producing resources, offering advice and training across the curriculum?

The additional and valuable expertise of bilingual staff who share the languages and culture of the pupils was also recognised. Their role was seen to include work with small groups or individuals, under the direction of a teacher and included providing help to enable new pupils to settle in and understand what is going on around them. Later Ofsted publications (2004a, 2004b) stressed the management role of EAL (or EMA) specialist teachers and consultants within the context of raising attainment for both bilingual and ethnic minority learners.

References


Ofsted (2001) Inspecting Subjects 3 - 11: English as an Additional Language. London : Ofsted

Ofsted (2001) Inspecting Subjects 11 - 16: English as an Additional Language. London : Ofsted

Ofsted (2004a) Managing the Ethnic Minority Achievement Grant - Good practice in secondary schools. London: Ofsted (Ref. HMI 2172)

Ofsted (2004b) Managing the Ethnic Minority Achievement Grant - Good practice in primary schools. London: Ofsted (Ref. HMI 2072)

Ofsted (2009) English as an additional language A briefing paper for section 5 inspectors London: Ofsted

Ofsted (2011) English as an additional language A briefing paper for section 5 inspectors London: Ofsted

Ofsted (2012) English as an additional language A briefing paper for section 5 inspectors London: Ofsted

Ofsted (2014) School inspection handbook Handbook for inspecting schools in England under section 5 of the Education Act 2005 (as amended) from September 2014