Our school aim is in accordance with that of the National Curriculum programmes of study which aims to provide all students with relevant and appropriately challenging work at each key stage. The National Curriculum framework sets out three principles that are essential to developing a more inclusive curriculum:
(The National Curriculum of England, 1999)
The main medium of instruction at Reach British School is English. Developing proficiency in the English language is key to ensuring that children can fully access the learning.
Students for whom English is an additional language have diverse needs in terms of support necessary in English language learning. Teachers’ planning should take account of such factors as the student’s age, the length of time they have been learning (or exposed to) the English language, previous educational experiences and their skills or proficiency levels in their mother tongue. This knowledge will be sort from parents, previous school reports, observation of the student in class and outside of class, and where the students are Arabic speakers, liaison with Arabic colleagues to build a more thorough learner profile. Teachers are mindful that a lack of proficiency in the English language is not indicative of a child’s intellectual ability. Careful monitoring of each student’s progress in the acquisition of English language skills and of subject knowledge and understanding will be necessary to confirm that no learning difficulties are present.
As the vast majority of students at Reach British School are EAL students, teachers are provided with professional development training to ensure they are well equipped to support their learners. Planning is carefully and deliberately designed to help students develop English skills: speaking, listening, understanding, reading and writing in all subject areas. At Reach British School, lessons are designed to be engaging, meaningful and relevant to students’ lives so they feel less anxious about learning an additional language, and where they feel safe to take risks. One way they do this is to use examples from the world in which they live so students can make connections to what they already know and build on from there.
Teachers should take specific action to help students who are learning English as an additional language by:
Professor Stephen Krashen’s work has suggested that there is just one key way for students to acquire an additional language 'comprehensible input in a low anxiety environment.’ When input strategies are meaningful and relevant for students and learning occurs in an environment which is low on anxiety and high on motivation and relevance, students sense of self-esteem and selfefficacy improves which opens them up for taking in the new language – the input strategies.
Students are encouraged to develop a strong proficiency in mother tongue, which is the key building block for gaining success in an additional language. During D.E.A.R. time (drop everything and read) children are encouraged to bring in reading material in their home language and we encourage parents to talk about learning in their mother tongue.
Teachers make sure students have access to the curriculum and to assessment through:
Teachers formatively assess students’ learning daily and use this observational knowledge to plan next steps in learning.
When they notice that a student is beginning to fall behind with learning because the language is a barrier, an intervention must be sought. In the early stages, intervention may take the form of adapting tasks within the class to help support the student in their learning. If these actions do not work in supporting the student to make progress, then a more formal process takes place and an intervention plan is put into action. In this case, the situation is escalated to the SENCO or ESL lead and may lead to the writing of an Individual Education Plan. This intervention plan aims to address the areas where the student is struggling (is this a general language delay – also evident in mother tongue, or unique to English, or are there additional learning needs which are masked by lack of English acquisition) and suggests strategies which should be implemented by the teacher (and parents) with the aim to support learning. To write an appropriate IEP as much information is needed as possible. Where parents have reports from external specialists it really helps supports in the writing of an IEP, as it helps identify appropriate targets for children with realistic strategies and timescales.