Tracy Wilson, EAL Co-ordinator at Goldington Green Academy in Bedford, explains how their school encourages EAL pupils to use and develop all of their languages.
The school has a strong emphasis on inclusion. I was especially impressed by the way everyone, from the head to the latest NQT, understands that pupils with EAL learn best through the curriculum and alongside their peers. Children are encouraged to use their mother tongue when they are able to and the curriculum is carefully planned to ensure that children’s culture and language are recognised. The school’s results show that they are managing to close the gap for all pupils with EAL by the time they reach KS2.
From the moment you step into the school you know that this is a place where all children and their families are valued. Displays all over the school show how the school respects diversity of culture, religion and languages. Children proudly showed me the huge range of projects the school has covered.
The Heritage Bag project is one such example of how the school achieves this respect for diversity. Children take it in turns to take a special bag and book home to fill with images and objects – things that are important to them and their parents – which they then share with their class. There is also a Heritage Suitcase project for parents which is developed in a workshop and then shared with the school at assemblies. I am told that there has been great competition by both children and parents of all cultures, including English, to send in interesting items.
Black Children’s Achievement Projects (BCAP) are also run regularly: as it had just been Black History Month there were some stunning displays. The school also has a twinning project with Ghana.
The children understand and respect the school’s values-based approach and even those in the Reception class were beginning to grasp ideas of peace and friendship. When I spoke to a group of pupil buddies, they talked about an awkward moment when they felt that some children were laughing at some African dancers. ‘They should have been showing tolerance,’ they said.
Parents from a wide range of heritages are encouraged to help in the school. I met a Polish volunteer who spoke enthusiastically about her work with new arrivals and also about the Polish school that she runs on the school premises at the weekends. The school website is helpful and clear about how children with EAL are supported and there are lots of photos of events where parents are involved, such as the annual multicultural week.
Finally, credit must be given to the EAL Co-ordinator’s energetic approach. Making sure that everyone understands how best to support children with EAL in the mainstream is no easy task, but I think that this is exactly what happens at Goldington Green.
To find out more, have a look at the school’s excellent website.
UPDATE: After three years, the team at Goldington Green wanted to check if they were still on track and we are delighted to report that following their second assessment (2023) they were awarded GOLD once again!
Watch Tracy Wilson (EAL Coordinator) speaking at one of our webinars:
Developing oracy and high profile race equality.
EAL in Bedfordshire schools
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.
Extended online EAL course
New cohorts launched every term
Requiring approximately 90 hours to complete over a six month period, our extended EAL online course provides the opportunity to examine a range of EAL issues in detail, studying at times that suit your schedule. With 4 core units and 2 electives, you can tailor the cross-phase course to suit your interests and the needs of your school.
Leading EAL in primary schools
This 12-hour course aims to develop the leadership of EAL in primary schools where there are increasing numbers of pupils learning English as an additional language. Focusing on a whole school approach, the course provides guidance on how to plan and prioritise provision for a range of EAL learners.