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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: Fri 7th Jul 2017

Although Inclusion is a central theme of UK policy, there are limited directives on EAL provision in mainstream classes (Costley 2014) This can have implications for international environments too, which model their practice on the UK or have UK trained teachers. Policy has significant implications for teachers who may be underprepared to support EAL pupils.

Felt pens
Created: Tue 19th Jun 2018

Marking and feedback is a crucial part of any teacher’s workload, and is essential for EAL learners. The importance of good-quality marking and feedback has been evidenced by many academic professionals, notably William & Black (1998) and, more recently, William (2018) and Hattie (2012). Hattie discusses the idea of rigorous approaches to marking and feedback, stating that through assessing learners, teachers themselves learn about their own impact: “As a professional, it is critical to know they impact.

Teenagers reading
Created: Thu 1st Sep 2022

A wide reading programme is promoted as a key vehicle for learners of English as an additional language (EAL) to improve their English language skills and become successful readers in English. Typically, such a programme involves learners being exposed to an extensive variety of reading materials both as independent readers and in structured sessions facilitated by a teacher or teaching assistant.