The EAL Academy

the Eal academy team

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We are school improvement specialists with a focus on the language of the classroom and subject-specific literacy.

Graham Smith, Director

Graham’s career covers teaching, training, consultancy and senior management. From 2009-2011 he was Project Director of London Challenge’s Pan London EAL Strategy, a programme delivering 2,000 days of training in 200 schools in 31 local authorities that was a key factor in providing the highest levels of attainment in the country for pupils with EAL. Graham has also been a senior elected member of two London councils. He is currently a Director of the Exceptional Education Trust.

Chiaka Amadi

Chiaka’s experience includes 15 years as Head of EMA in a secondary school where she focused on planning with and coaching teachers in working with EAL learners.
A member of the IEDP, Chiaka has dealt with a number of sensitive issues around diversity and race equality. During Chiaka’s 5 years as a local authority adviser, she managed two national research-based projects. She also worked closely with leadership teams and governing bodies offering advice and training in preparation for Ofsted inspections.

Marc Thompson

Marc initially trained as a Geography and English as a Second Language teacher before gaining qualifications in Special Educational Needs support. He was Head of EAL in a 

London school and later Deputy Head of an EMA centre. He worked as a Senior Education Consultant for Cambridge Education @ Islington for 10 years training staff and advising schools. His particular areas of expertise are ‘Raising the Achievement of Boys’, ‘Promoting Reading’, ‘E-Learning’ and the SEN/EAL overlap.

Catherine Brennan

Catherine has worked as an Ethnic Minority Achievement advisor and EAL trainer in London, Bristol and surrounding areas for over 20 years, right across the age range from

the EYFS to Key Stage 4. More recently, she has facilitated training and provided consultancy across England, with online teaching expertise developed since 2018. Through partnership work with school leaders, teaching practitioners, BAME pupils and their families, she has successfully developed inclusive practice to enhance outcomes in terms of pupil wellbeing, progress and attainment.

Lynsey Irish

Lynsey has taught in a large primary school in Somerset for the past 15 years. She has experience in FS, KS1 and KS2 and teaching both new arrivals and advanced EAL learners.

She started her role as EAL Coordinator in 2014 when the school had increasing numbers of EAL children arriving. Since then she has furthered her own knowledge and that of the other staff of how to teach EAL learners, identify learners with possible SEN needs and track children’s progress.

Soofia Amin

Soofia is an Assistant Head Teacher at Kensington Primary. She is an SLE, for EAL, in the borough of Newham and has vast experience in supporting multilingual pupils and their families.  Soofia is passionate about 

developing excellent practice for multilingual pupils whilst promoting their first languages as a resource in the classroom and the wider school. Her training has not only included schools in the borough and wider London but she has also supported trainee teachers via the local teacher training agency SCITTELS. 

Helen Handford

Helen is a qualified EAL teacher, trainer and consultant with over 25 years’ experience in developing language and literacy across the curriculum in diverse, multilingual primary

and secondary school contexts. She specialises in optimising pupil outcomes through strategic, whole-school approaches to the development of academic registers of language. Her background is in applied linguistics and she provides both bespoke and accredited training and coaching around all aspects of EAL and literacy development.

Mark Sims

Mark Sims

Mark has been an inspector of schools, local authorities and ITE providers since 1998. Between 2004 and 2023 he was one of Her/His Majesty’s Inspectors (HMI).

For 16 years he was Ofsted’s lead for EAL, ESOL and Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Pupils, leading training for inspectors on EAL and race equality. He led national surveys for Ofsted, including Every Language Matters (2008) and Removing Barriers for Roma Pupils (2014). He has represented Ofsted on policy issues with the DfE, sitting as a member of their Gypsy, Roma and Traveller stakeholder school and on expert panels on EAL, such as the Education Policy Institute. He has spoken at a number of national and international conferences on the inspection of EAL, race equality, and Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils. Prior to becoming an HMI, Mark was a teacher and the Head of the Ethnic Minority Achievement Service in Cardiff and taught EAL to primary and secondary pupils in Oldham.

Catharine Driver

Catharine is an independent consultant and trainer for English as an Additional Language and Academic Literacy. She has wide experience of working in multilingual schools

and local authorities across the UK. Catharine is currently a senior adviser for the British Council EAL Nexus project. Other roles she has held include Head of EAL and Minority Ethnic Achievement in a London Secondary school, leading on literacy across the curriculum; school improvement consultant and Masters course tutor. She continues to be a popular trainer and presenter at national and regional events.

Ann Jones

Ann began teaching in the EAL field in Croydon and worked in a wide range of secondary schools and sixth form colleges. She held the post of Deputy Team Leader of

the Croydon Secondary EAL Team, and later became joint Senior Manager in the Croydon EMA Service. She worked in partnership with Islington secondary schools to help raise the achievement of minority ethnic pupils. She completed a doctorate on the achievements and aspirations of Turkish and Kurdish girls at Key Stage 4. She is currently teaching in an East London school.

Steve Cooke

Steve has worked in EAL teaching since 1982, working in both primary and secondary schools in London, Rochdale and Leicester. He has also held a number of advisory roles

including EAL Project Manager for Leicester City, a Regional Adviser for the National Strategies, and an Achievement Consultant for Nottingham City. He is a recognised lecturer and distance learning tutor and has carried out CPD sessions for over thirty different local authorities in England and Wales. He has presented workshops for teachers in The Netherlands, Scotland, France, Germany, Russia and Pakistan. Steve has written articles for books and journals and is the author of Collaborative Learning Activities in the Classroom.

Mona Bani

Mona was born in Denmark to political refugees from Iran and moved to the UK as a teenager. With years of experience working in youth education and social inclusion, Mona

has authored reports on youth policy in the UK and far-right extremism in Denmark for the think tank Demos, been a Policy Adviser to the Cabinet Office, a Consultant to Help Refugees, and is now Education Director for Every Voice UK and Strategic Director for the social enterprise May Project Gardens.

Cath Ratcliffe

Cath has a wealth of teaching experience in mainstream primary, secondary and private overseas schools. She has worked as a Specialist English as an Additional Language

Teacher, delivering training and advising schools on supporting EAL pupils and raising the achievement of ethnic minority pupils for over 20 years. In 2014, based on 25 years experience of teaching, training and advising, and on her understanding of the particular needs of EAL pupils and parents, Cath became self employed as a Specialist EAL teacher and consultant.

Fran Paffard

Fran has 30 years’ experience working in multilingual Primary and Nursery schools in London, with particular expertise in the Early Years. She has worked as a deputy head 

teacher of a nursery school, advisory teacher for Ethnic Minority Achievement and for Early Years, as a regional director for the National Strategies and more recently as a Senior Lecturer on BA and PGCE teacher training programmes at the University of East London and the University of Cumbria.

EAL contact

Developing literacy for a multilingual world

We are school improvement specialists with a focus on the language of the classroom and subject-specific literacy. 

We work with teachers, schools, school groups and local authorities to help pupils and students achieve and enable schools to flourish.

Our team of consultants, trainers and serving teachers has trained and worked in classrooms with thousands of teachers in hundreds of schools in over 30 countries across four continents.



Our consultancy work is grounded in a deep understanding of what makes a school tick in a multicultural setting, rigorous analysis of data, and a thoughtful appreciation of the context…



Our training takes many different forms, all firmly rooted in whole school development, empowering teachers and leaders to effect change throughout the school…



As a support to our consultancy and training work, we have a developed a number of resources for teaching staff and schools, available for purchase or to download for free…

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