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How can we support our late arrivals?

Published on: Monday 12th February 2018

Posted in:  News , Blog

The report ‘The Educational Outcomes of Children with English as an Additional Language’ has just been published this month and it makes interesting reading for a few reasons.

Some of the key findings are:

  • Headline figures published by the Department for Education show that, on average, in 2016 EAL pupils performed well – with similar attainment scores to the national average, and greater than average progress during school. – that is fantastic news.
  • At GCSE level, pupils with EAL scored an average grade of a C if they arrived between reception and Year 7. This decreased to a grade of around a D if they arrived in Year 8, 9 or 10 – falling further to below an E if they arrived in Year 11 – how can we improve on this?
  • Average attainment scores of EAL pupils are deeply misleading and conceal considerable variation.  – this is worrying.
  • These figures, however, obscure significant disparities in performance – and are also distorted by missing records – estimated t nearly a third of EAL primary pupils, and one tenth of secondary pupils, who have absent attainment records due to late arrival to the English school system.   – oh dear, even more worrying!

So where does this leave us?

 If we focus on two specific comments, ‘EAL pupils performed well’ and ‘greater than average progress’ we can assume that EAL students are very capable and UK schools are successfully supporting them. However, if we continue to read through the report we find that late arrivals to the country i.e. secondary aged students, are not so successful (as stated in the second bullet point above).

Is it the case therefore, our bright EAL students will succeed only if given sufficient time in the school system, rather than schools in the UK being sufficiently equipped to cater for EAL students’ needs? Surely this can’t be right.

Schools need to act fast and put support programmes in place as soon as possible because the curriculum doesn’t wait.

For the majority of EAL students the only thing that is holding them back is their level of language acquisition, not their capability. We need to target this area of need quickly and effectively, particularly for the older student because time is running out for them. It is never too late to provide learners with strategies that can have a dramatic impact on confidence and understanding.

In a previous blog ‘How can we best support our EAL learners?’ I wrote about five essential areas we need to focus on. The teaching of reading and language development through Latin and etymology are two of these key areas.

Conversational language is important and much of this, not all, can be learned by simply immersing them in spoken language; in the playground, at lunch times and classroom chatter, but the academic language needs to be explicitly taught. Learning the subject specific language simply by exposure will take too long. Short bursts of effective interventions delivered in small groups and not in mainstream classrooms gets better results in a shorter period of time.

If an intervention is to be effective, a simple and easy to use baseline assessment is also required and it needs to be effective too. It needs to measure a few key areas, which are linked to appropriate teaching methods and resources to support any weakness highlighted in the assessment. Assessment is a complete waste of everyone’s time if there is no support programme put in place to support the student as a result.

I have seen some very detailed assessments that appear to test everything; so much so, it almost becomes too comprehensive and so the task of addressing the issues seems insurmountable. An effective assessment therefore needs to be quick to diagnose and treat the main barrier to progress.

Lexonik Leap’s baseline assessment quickly assesses any gaps in basic literacy skills. This allows teachers to plan sessions, which are tailored to the student’s needs. There is no need to spend valuable time teaching something the student already knows. Teaching needs to focus only on gaps in knowledge, making sure learners quickly become skilled and fluent in basic literacy skills. This way they can see instant progress; there is nothing more powerful or motivating than when they see for themselves the progress they are making.  It fuels their desire to learn even more. The teaching activities are fast, fun and very focused. And need to be!

If the basics are in place, they can then begin to develop reading ability and with that begin to work more independently and ultimately, more successfully.

A quote from Brynmawr School, Wales, who use Lexonik Leap:

Brynmawr School 

We have recently taught 3 asylum seekers from Afghanistan who are new to English, the resources themselves have proved invaluable. I particularly like the fact that they do not have to be used in any particular order; you can dip in and out as required by the individual. The fact that you can spend 5 mins or 30 mins is brilliant.”

Hear for yourself what teachers are saying about the assessment and resources included in Lexonik Leap.

We need evaluate the support we provide EAL students particularly when they are late arrivals our school system.

Katy Parkinson.

Founder Director of Sound Training.

 Based on my knowledge and experience I have created *Lexonik Leap which is an extension to Lexonik our original programme which improves literacy for all.

*Lexonik Leap benefits EAL learners and those who have difficulty with learning basic literacy skills.


Do you have specific EAL challenges at your school? Or in your school district?

Call us on (+44) 01642 42 42 98 or email us via [email protected] to arrange our first meeting with you. We look forward to helping you improve student learning outcomes.