We value and welcome the cultural and diverse experiences that pupils with EAL bring to our school. EAL pupils gain full access to our curriculum, as our curriculum is creative and very active, meaning children, who are EAL, thrive and strengthen their speaking, listening and writing skills. We provide lots of opportunities for children to celebrate, showcase and teach others about their culture or language. We have a range of different languages and cultures in our school, which provide a rich and vibrant feel to our school. EAL parent workshops are provided to develop parents’ confidence and to discuss any ideas they could try at home to help develop their child’s language.
How has COVID affected our EAL learners at Leamington Primary?
What was it like before Lockdown?
Before lockdown, Eva, our 1:1 EAL EMTAs support, spent a Thursday morning in school working on NASSEA targets with our EAL children. Eva would support children with communication, reading, writing, confidence or cognitive skills. Classrooms displayed EAL displays for children in their class. Children enjoyed answering the register in their own language as they taught others in their class. Welcome displays in many of the languages we have in our school around school. Our school explored a lot of different cultures and countries through narrative immersion books. Dressing up and being in character helped children to realise and understand that the characters were from different places, dress differently or even speak differently. We built up resilience during our Jigsaw topics every Friday afternoon. Everyone covered a topic called ‘celebrating difference’ which covered cultural differences, learning new words such as discrimination. Activities include designing their own ribbon to encourage people to stop racism. This section of Jigsaw also encouraged a lot of discussion and open questioning, which really got the children thinking about others. Our school also hosted EAL coffee mornings. We recently had an Arabic interpreter present, which our Arabic parents loved as they could discuss any queries they had in or outside of school. The feedback questionnaires showed how useful they found it. We also were proud holders of a ‘School of Sanctuary award’ which celebrates the diverse nature of our school and how we celebrate difference.
What was it like during Lockdown?
During the first lockdown, March 2020 – September 2020, we supported all of our families in school by regular welfare calls.
During the second lockdown, January 2021 – March 2021, our EAL children were supported during remote learning in accordance to how they are supported in school. Our school used ‘Screen-O-Matic’ to add audio to our videos, PowerPoints and documents so children were receiving the same verbal support that they would receive in school. We used ‘class dojo’ as our support tool for remote learning where lessons and work were uploaded and messages were shared between parents and teachers. Class dojo has a built in translation tool so parents can translate in any language they choose and reply in the language they feel most comfortable with. Teachers can then translate these messages so communication can continue, even when remote learning. We received lots of support from EMTAs for teachers and parents. We provided our EAL families an opportunity to listen to a story book in their chosen language. Parents loved this opportunity and found it beneficial to their child. We continued with our welfare calls to ensure parents can access remote learning and if they have any questions about supporting their child at home.
What was it like after Lockdown?
After lockdown, as a school, we are aware there will be gaps of understanding for our children including EAL pupils. There will be lots of opportunity for small group work to aid and support children’s communication skills and cognitive understanding. Small group work also supports children with low confidence. As a school, we have a belief that children learn together best, so team activities and group discussions are key to building up confidence and acquiring language. As a school we use class dojo, which has a translation tool to help communicate with our EAL parents. Hopefully in the near future we will be able to host coffee mornings again for our EAL families, which received great feedback last time. Classrooms still display different languages and cultures to celebrate difference. As a school, we teach a wide variety of stories from other cultures and are taught through narrative immersion, bringing our stories to life.
What does the future look like?
Our school will need to renew the school of sanctuary award in the near future. Children celebrate their home language/culture/nationality throughout the year in class, but renewing our award gives our school a chance to come together and celebrate the different cultures, languages and nationalities in our school. As a subject lead, I will update staff on the NASSEA framework to assess EAL children and refresh staff on how to track their children’s language progress. As a school, we encourage small group work and communication during lessons, as we believe children learn best through communication and discussion. COVID rules permitting, reengage with coffee mornings for our EAL parents as this received excellent feedback from parents when we last hosted it.
Miss Danielle Carroll
EAL Subject Leader