Supporting pupils with English as an additional language to help them integrate

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Westbourne School assesses the language ability of pupils who are learning English as an additional language before they start at the school. Pupils also have the opportunity to attend summer school prior to starting. Teachers promote high levels of pupil inclusion and encourage participation in activities, such as assemblies, charity events, international days and public speaking lessons.

Number of pupils: 180
Age range: 3-18
Date of inspection: March 2018

Context and background to the effective or innovative practice

The senior school contains a considerable number of English as an additional language (EAL) pupils.  About 20% of pupils are from minority ethnic backgrounds and around 25% receive support in learning English as an additional language.  To ensure that the school ethos is embedded, and that pupils make strong progress, their confidence and competency in English are of paramount importance.

Description of nature of strategy or activity

The school has one priority, to use as many well-planned strategies as possible to prioritise the complete immersion and inclusion of EAL pupils into the school community.  This is achieved by ensuring that they confidently and competently develop their English speaking, reading and writing skills at every possible opportunity.

The process begins by accurately assessing the pupils’ English language background and proficiency prior to admission.  This allows the school to issue pre-admittance support, guidance and individual subject glossaries.  Many pupils enrol for several weeks in the summer term before their planned entry and/or take part in the summer school for EAL pupils.  This combination of assessment and support informs staff more accurately, and prepares pupils more effectively before they begin their education at the school.  Allocated form tutors communicate with the family before and during admission, and specific pupil ambassadors are allocated to help their peers on arrival.  When pupils start at the school, personalised EAL support lessons are implemented, the number of which vary between two and ten a week depending on the pupil’s level of language proficiency.  English speaking is compulsory in both the school and the boarding house.  Teachers promote high levels of pupil inclusion and encourage participation in activities, such as assemblies, charity events, international day and public speaking lessons.  These opportunities encourage pupils to develop their oracy in a supportive and encouraging environment.  After-school clubs encourage interaction with their peers outside the school day, which further encourages pupils to develop their oracy skills.  The teaching of additional languages, such as Latin, is an additional avenue for supporting EAL pupils with their understanding of tenses and development of vocabulary.

What impact has this work had on provision and learners’ standards?

EAL pupils quickly become confident orally in lessons and beyond.  Results in assessments of EAL pupils do not differ from those with first language English, in fact, they are often better.  Although the school offers GCSE EAL, many EAL pupils are entered for GCSE English language and literature and obtain A*/A grades.  At IB Diploma, EAL pupils have the option of English first or second language, and many choose (and excel at) the former.  Finally, the more languages pupils study, the more proficient in English they seem to become.  Confidence and competency are both so high amongst EAL pupils that they make up 40% of the school council.

How have you shared your good practice?

The pre-IB course and its focus on language development have been shared with other IB co-ordinators and IB schools both nationally and internationally.  Part-time language teachers share the school’s ideas and strategies with the other schools in which they teach.