Case Study: Organising Support
In Harlesden Primary school there is a high proportion of children requiring support in the early stages of the acquisition of English, including children from a refugee background. With only one part-time EAL co-ordinator and two part-time teaching assistants it was difficult adequately to meet the needs of these children, particularly those at an early stage in their learning of English. The concern of the school was to maximise the support offered.
The co-ordinator initially established a well-planned induction process for new arrivals, which allowed her to gather full information on the child's abilities, experience and interests. This included information about education in the home country and language, as well as an initial quick assessment of ability in English and maths. This information, recorded on a single sheet of A4, was passed to the class teacher at least two days in advance of the child's starting school.
Differentiation, a supportive environment and a class buddy ensured that the child's time in the classroom was as productive as possible. In addition the co-ordinator invested time in building up packs of work related to specific areas of the curriculum, particularly around science, maths and history topics, which focused on introducing the crucial vocabulary and key concepts in a way that was supported by pictures and practical activities. They also included templates for easy recording: writing frames, completing diagrams, cloze activities etc.
The two teaching assistants were trained in using these packs, and then were timetabled to use them in supporting small groups of targeted children at a regular time each day, usually the last session of the day. Parents were also invited into these sessions to enable them to continue the support at home, in the language of choice.
As the teaching assistants became more familiar with the work and with several helpful websites producing resources, they were able to begin making up their own packs under the supervision of the EAL co-ordinator. Another positive spin-off was that class teachers also began to make up similar packs or allow the teaching assistant time to do so, and adapted some of the recording templates for their class-based work.
This was seen as a long-term strategy, planning gradually to encompass the topics taught throughout the school, building up a very useful bank of resources which could be used over and again.