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Author: Gemma Fanning, EAL specialist

How can you take your EAL department forward to play a part in a whole school development strategy? Over the years, I have found that this can be a real challenge. A plan for a whole-school approach to EAL can have a significant impact, and not only benefits the EAL learners, but the whole school population.

Common themes

Blair and Bourne (1998) researched some successful schools and identified some common themes with regard to EAL:

  • the significant role played by headteachers in driving forward an inclusive agenda
  • working in partnership with parents
  • establishing strong community links
  • developing a student-centred approach to learning
  • embedding robust procedures for dealing with racial incidents
  • monitoring and tackling learner progress.

Whole-school change

Schools all have different organisational structures, which means that roles and responsibilities can fall onto a variety of different people. It is important to remember that the task of EAL development does not rest on the shoulders of one person alone. Provision for EAL learners is larger than one person’s role. Therefore, your development plan needs to be owned and shared by the staff and leadership team. It needs to instigate a change in culture.

Kotter (1996) argues that there are ‘8 Steps to change’ that can be followed to make progress. These fall into the following three areas:

Creating a climate for change

1. Create a sense of urgency
2. Build a guiding coalition

Engaging and enabling the whole organisation

3. Form a strategic vision
4. Enlist a volunteer group
5. Enable action by removing barriers
6. Plan for short-term wins

Implementing and sustaining change

7. Sustain acceleration
8. Institute change

Be SMART

Scott (2012) discusses how to set whole-school targets by first considering which things you want to change, review or add. By creating a list of things that need to be taken into account, you are able to identify your main priorities and list them as SMART targets (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timed). These targets can be numbered in priority order, for example, from 1-3, with one being the first priority and three being the lowest priority (Scott, 2012). The final stage is to consider how these targets will be achieved, deciding what needs to be done and who is going to be responsible for this (Scott, 2012).

Finally, it is extremely important that everyone is on board with the changes and that there is a shared understanding of the plan for all stakeholders.

If you want to learn more about how change can be implemented in your school or to access a structure for whole school development, join the Across Cultures EAL Framework for Schools course. More details can be found here.

References:

Blair, M. and Bourne, J. (1998) Making the difference: teaching and learning in successful multi-ethnic schools, DfEE

Kotter, J. (1996) Leading Change, Harvard Business School Press

Morrison McGill, R (2015), Teacher Toolkit: Helping you survive your first five years, London, Bloomsbury Education

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

Further learning - Blog

Created: Sun 11th Dec 2016

Holidays and homework seem incongruous especially for the EAL students who need to concentrate extra hard in order to understand curriculum content. It is therefore crucial that the homework is fun and rewarding, workbooks and worksheets, although pleasing to parents, may be off putting for students who may start with good intentions but then put off doing them. Generating enthusiasm and motivation are the key factors.

Keeping a diary/scrap book

Created: Mon 9th Oct 2017

While it can be argued that EAL learners have an entitlement to experience a full and varied curriculum through complete class immersion and no withdrawal, some would argue that learners benefit from being withdrawn for time limited support to help them develop their English language in order to assist them in accessing the curriculum (NALDIC, FAQ Podcast, 2017).

If learners are unable to access the lesson content, they can feel frustrated and a sense of failure. Learners need to feel confident and successful.

Created: Wed 6th May 2015

This morning my 4 year old woke up and said, "Mummy there are two languages, child's language and adult language". I asked her what she meant and she explained that when her friend was crying the teacher told her to read her the "owl" book. She then said, "The teacher reads the words but the child changes it." A young child may not be able to read, or retell the story using the actual words but often can retell it in their own words. A bit like a translation, as my daughter illustrated. The key factor is not the actual words, but the story behind the words.