Community Village


Download resource

Please enter your details to download this resource
Teacher smiling in classroom
Author: Isabelle Bridger-Eames, EAL specialist

The Early Career Framework was made compulsory in the UK in September 2021. It replaces the year-long NQT period. It is a two-year programme of support and development for new teachers after they complete initial teacher training. The Framework covers 8 main areas:

  1. High expectations
  2. How pupils learn
  3. Subject and curriculum
  4. Classroom practice
  5. Adaptive teaching
  6. Assessment
  7. Managing behaviour
  8. Professional behaviours

The Early Career Framework and EAL

All areas are relevant to and for the teaching and learning of our EAL pupils and ensuring they are successful in their learning. However, here we will look at two of the framework areas.

Successfully catering for your EAL pupils requires adaptive teaching and accurate assessment, which are sections 5 and 6 in the Early Career Framework. To adapt our teaching, we need to be mindful of the needs of individual pupils, understanding that pupils are likely to learn at different rates and require different levels and types of support from teachers.

Some key items to consider are as follows:

  • What stage of proficiency are learners at?
  • What are the language demands of your lesson? One way to identify this is to think about the vocabulary that you are using in terms of three tiers:
    • Tier 1 words are everyday words encountered in daily conversation, e.g. dog, go, happy. These usually do not need to be specifically taught.
    • Tier 2 words are those that provide access to more complex topics and discussions outside of the everyday, e.g. relative, vary, frown.
    • Tier 3 words are those that are relevant for a specific subject or content area. They are what we often call 'topic words', e.g. lava, circumference, sarcophagus.

Finding appropriate strategies

Once you have decided which tier the language demands of your lesson fall into, you can support your learners with appropriate strategies. For instance, pupils pre-learning the language for your lesson independently - or in a small group. Consider questions such as:

  • Are there opportunities for 'talk for reading and writing'?
  • Have you scaffolded these opportunities?
  • Are there also opportunities for pupils to speak without adult interference or adults overhearing all of the time?
  • Are some of these talking opportunities child-led?

Early Career Framework and EAL Assessment

As the Early Career Framework states, "good assessment can provide teachers with vital information about pupils' understanding and needs". In 2016, the Department for Education began collecting a new teacher-assessed measure of English proficiency for pupils with EAL, through the school census. Schools are asked to position each child on a five-point scale according to a judgement of 'best fit', with briefly described categories: New to English, Early Acquisition, Developing Confidence, Competent and Fluent.

To assess accurately, schools should be using an EAL continuum. Assessment frameworks, such as the EAL Assessment Framework from the Bell Foundation or the Common European Framework, can help to provide accurate and purposeful assessments of what a learner can do in English, as well as delivering a road map for progression to support the teaching of EAL learners. 

You can download a factsheet version of this article by clicking on the 'Download' buttons at the top and bottom of this page.


Cummins, J. (2000). Language, power, and pedagogy. Bilingual children in the crossfire. Clevedon, England: Multilingual Matters.

Department for Education, Early Career Framework, January 2019, access here, Accessed 17/02/22.

Misselbrook, R. (2019). KS2 SATS: Why and How we Targeted Tier 2 Words. Accessed: 31/01/19.

Scott, C (2012) Teaching English as an Additional Language 5-11: A Whole School Resource, Routledge.

Scutt C., An introduction to the Early Career Framework, access here, Accessed: 31/01/19.

Scutt C., The Early Career Framework: Useful links, resources and guidance.

Research Review, access here. Accessed: 31/01/19.

Further learning - Blog

Created: Thu 5th Jun 2014

Everyone is talking about differentiation for EAL in whole class teaching, but how do we actually approach it consistently and effectively?

At Across Cultures we have been developing some systematic ways of approaching this in a structured, yet flexible format. In the downloadable plan you'll see a framework to support EAL teachers with planning for content learning alongside language learning. The plan is based about the theme of sea pollution and provides a writing frame for a persuasive text.

This lesson follow a particular format:

Created: Fri 8th Jul 2016

Most schools with early stage learners of English will have some form of guided reading record. This record supports the learner, parents and the teacher in acknowledging, monitoring progress and rewarding good reading habits. We do this because we know the profound influence reading has on progress in literacy (not just reading alone. Try reading Krashen, the Power of Reading, 2004).

However, have you considered the impact of a similar record for learning EAL through the use of flashcard activities?

Boy cupping hand to ear listening
Created: Wed 12th Apr 2023

Despite legitimate claims that EAL students devote over half of their time to listening when functioning in English (Nunan, 1998), this is often not reflected in the time that we dedicate to the four main skills in the classroom. In fact, Nation (2009) states that listening is arguably the least understood and most overlooked of the four skills in language teaching.