As part of my Lead Practioner project I am focusing on EAL students. Today at our school we all presented for 10 minutes about our projects and where we are. I decided to write a short blog explaining some of my feelings in a little more detail.

Line Managers:

“Make sure you label on your seating plan where your SEND students are seated. Ensure you’re aware of who the students who are eligible for the Pupil Premium Grant are. It is also vital that you highlight the More Able students.

Oh, yeah, and if you can, list who your EAL students are.”


“So, the students who can speak another language?”

Line Managers:

“Yeah, if English isn’t their first language their EAL, aren’t they?”



English as an additional Language. Try Googling ‘definition of EAL.’ Go on…try?

From my understanding, it is ‘a pupil’s first language is defined as any language other than English that a child was exposed to during early development and continues to be exposed to in the home or community.’ (DfE 2014.)

So, how do we find that out?

SENCOs are in place in schools to support and disseminate information to teachers to support the reasonable adjustments needed for these students. They must complete the National SENCO award, a formal, Post Graduate qualification. The SEND Code of Practice, 2014, states that the SENCo should ideally be on the Senior Leadership Team in the schools where they work. All SENCOs in state schools, should also have Qualified Teacher Status. It is fair to say that the role of a SENCO is universally recognised, valued and no school would run without one!

Pupil Premium leads are in posts in many case in senior positions, managing budgets where Primary schools are accountable for the £1200 and Secondary schools for the £935 per child. They must report their Pupil Premium Strategy by law on their school website. The will be held accountable for this explicitly in Ofsted inspections. Diminishing the Difference or Closing the Gap; whatever the new HandBook suggests we call it, it is clear that this is high on the agenda of areas all schools need to be focussed on.

EAL however does not get as much gravitas. Firstly, there are not even any direct qualifications needed to become an EAL lead as there is no formal role of an EAL teacher. In schools I fear that most have left this role to less qualified people and as a bolt on. It is usually a TLR provided to people trying to garner experience.

In 2011, the Ethnic Minority Achievement Grant was also effectively wiped out. Ultimately there is now no additional funding at all for EAL students. Despite the fact that 1 in 5 students are now classified as EAL. We simply do not know or do enough in schools. That is around 22% of Primary School children and 17% of Secondary School children!

EAL provision has therefore been cut drastically, where schools used to have whole departments/teams geared up to support EAL learners, most of these have diminished or been extinguished. Why? Funding cuts? Budget restrictions? Or no real accountability measures placed on EAL achievement?

Since 2017, school census data collection has also changed which has effectively meant that there is now no requirement to assess children’s English proficiency. This is being argued to be damaging for EAL students. Schools should be assessing students proficiency in reading, writing, speaking and listening. However, I would argue that schools do not know of the tools to do this. They do not have consistent practices to ensure this happens. If there is no requirement to do it and schools struggled doing it anyhow, I am not sure schools will seek out ways to make this happen… Does your school?

You will no doubt receive a Pupil/SEND/PP profile, with details about those students. Do you get an EAL profile? Are your EAL students homogenised into ‘low attaining groups?’ As the SEND Code of Practice states, difficulties solely relating to EAL needs are not SEND.

But, EAL children out perform White British Boys I hear you say? Well, this is also somewhat misleading, despite the publication of DfE statistics. @Equitableeducation – Sameena Choudry has articulated this in her various articles for @SchoolsWeek and the @TES. She has argued that EAL attainment varies depending on the first language spoken. ‘Japanese being the highest attaining EAL student and Czech speakers the lowest.’ This is a massive problem aggregating EAL attainment with the amount of variance in results. There is also clear evidence to show there is a measurable amount of data missing which can potentially invalidate the assumption that EAL students outperform non EAL students. The Education Policy Institutes report highlights this.

‘There is a considerable body of research showing that bilingualism has many linguistic, cognitive, educational, cultural, economic, family and personal benefits.’ (Sameena Choudry). But do we support ‘additive bilingualism.’  Which is enhance and add to their mother tongue as oppose to lose their first language at the expense of English?

I also worry that some EAL students essential try to wash out their identity. They shorten their names, remove associations with their home countries. Maybe, because they want to fit in? Be accepted? Or make life easier for others and themselves. My Spirals of enquiry project questionnaires displayed these views. The EAL students I asked were mostly keen on removing any kind of reference to them and another country.

Whatever the reason, we need to celebrate EAL students. We need to bound forward and value bilingualism and take heed to the many research pieces that show that having an additional language in your repertoire is a good thing.

Nevertheless, what can schools do to ensure EAL learners aren’t a bolt on, aren’t just somethings that need considering but actually students that are valued and supported as much as the reasonable adjustments of SEND students and the impact models of Pupil Premium students.

What are our plans?

  • Establish an assessment/proficiency checking procedure. All students should be ‘screened’ for us to gather as much preliminary information on students as possible
  • Create a New To English Dual Languaging programme to intensively support students into mainstream education
  • Further investigate our Rosetta Stone programme and look at how inclusive our “language leagues” can become.
  • Lead from the front. Raise the status of the value and breadth of EAL provision.
  • Create an EAL pupil profile for all EAL students listing clearly on what scale of EAL they are
  • Train staff to be able to deliver EAL friendly lessons and make them stage specific
  • Collect home language information- Flags for every language spoken? Teachers instructions spoken in different languages? Assembly/reflection tasks?
  • Celebrate languages spoken- learning about cultural differences?
  • Read research and journal articles and simplify them into classroom specific ideas

Thank you to @Dileed for all her support thus far!

Here is some help for any EAL leads out there:

Check out EAL Naldics website- The National Subject Association for EAL-

Check out some EAL resources here:

Check out The Bell Foundation:

Check out the EAL Nexus resources here:

Check out Project Gutenburg!

@KTLangSpec has created a reading list for us:

Pauline Gibbons

English Learners Academic Literacy and Thinking: Learning in the Challenge Zone.

Pauline Gibbons

Learning to Learn in a Second Language

Chris Pim

100 Ideas for Supporting Learners with EAL

Alice Washbourne

EAL Pocketbook

Liz Dale

CLIL Activities: A Resource for Subject and Language Teachers

Susan Rosamond et al.

EAL or SEN: Distinguishing the Difference

NALDIC Working Paper 5: The Distinctiveness of EAL

Christina Celic / Kate Seltzer

Translanguaging : A CUNY-NYSIEB Guide for Educators

Beverly Derewianka

Exploring How Texts Work


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