The EAL Academy


EAL Quality Mark Gold Award for New Marston Primary School in Oxford

EAL Quality Mark schools
When New Marston Primary School in Oxford was inspected in 2016 Ofsted said: “Teachers and adults do not cater well enough for pupils who … speak English as an additional language.” By 2019, with the school now part of The River Learning Trust, inspectors were impressed, saying that “Pupils learn well in all subjects… because leaders have planned an ambitious curriculum.” I would go further than that. New Marston is a school in which planning explicitly addresses the needs of EAL learners. The use of key visuals and pre-teaching of vocabulary is not an add on. It is built in.

New Marston’s approach to planning is a key factor that enables the school to succeed in a turbulent world. Year group sizes vary dramatically because of local authority place planning.

The proportion of EAL pupils in a year group varies too, not in a single direction but up and down between 25% and 54%. Add to that high mobility and you can see that admission and induction processes have to be consistent and well organised.

Rachel Vlachonikolis explains how her school plans for EAL pupils and what they have gained from the EAL Quality Mark.

Alongside the rigorous planning and carefully constructed systems, however, is a flexibility that allows the school to respond to and engage with the changing and diverse communities that the school serves. Alongside the Syrian refugees are the children of the doctoral students and visiting academics at the university and the long standing local Pakistani community. The school makes good use of the one to one EAL tuition provided by Jacari, an excellent local charity (which, by chance, The EAL Academy supports with training for its tutors).

Teachers have received high quality EAL training and good advice from leaders. In their conversations with me it was clear that teachers know their pupils and their languages well. Staff understand that in some languages literacy teaching does not involve phonics, so it may seem very odd to new pupils. One spoke about children whose mother tongue does not have definite and indefinite articles and the need to rephrase their words back to them with the articles included.

We are delighted to announce that New Marston has been awarded the Gold EAL Quality Mark.

The EAL Quality Mark is based on a school’s self-evaluation of its EAL provision. It is an award made to schools on their achievements in meeting the needs of pupils learning English as an additional language. 

It is available as a bronze, silver or gold award, allowing schools the opportunity to re-visit the award and build on their practice over time. Any school with pupils on roll who are learning English as an additional language is eligible to apply.