Blog entry by Astrid Dinneen

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by Astrid Dinneen - Tuesday, 4 July 2023, 12:13 PM
Anyone in the world

By the Hampshire EMTAS Specialist Teacher Advisors

This has been an incredibly busy year for Hampshire EMTAS with 1089 pupils being referred to us by 30th June. In this blog we delve deeper into our data and share interesting trends. We reflect on our work with Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Children and share highlights of our support to Gypsy, Traveller, Roma, Showmen and Boaters. We also celebrate the end of the GCSEs, share an update to our late arrivals guidance and give details of our brand-new study skills programme. We reveal the list of schools who have successfully achieved their EAL Excellence Award and finish with a staffing update. Team Leader Sarah Coles has the final word in a concluding paragraph.

This academic year in data

Of the 1089 referrals received this academic year across the county, 825 were made by primary schools and 252 by secondary schools. Other referrals were made by special schools and the Virtual School. We have worked with around 303 schools and outside agencies, including some from outside of Hampshire. Rushmoor remains the busiest district for referrals with schools in this area submitting 249 referrals. Basingstoke and Deane followed closely behind, referring 188 pupils.

The top five languages referred to EMTAS this academic year were Ukrainian (149), Malayalam (88), Russian (79), Cantonese (74) and Nepali (72). Not all of the Russian language referrals have Ukraine as the country of origin; they include referrals for pupils from Russia, Latvia and UK born.

There has been a rise in the number of referrals from Albania jumping from 1 in the previous two years to 26 this year. Likewise Turkish referrals over the previous two years number 36 in total but this year there have been 38.

EMTAS has also seen an increase in the number of African languages spoken by children in Hampshire schools with Afrikaans, Akan, Akan Fante, Ghanaian, Herrero, Igbo, Luganda, Lugisu, Malinke, Nigerian, Shona, Swahili, Tigrinya, Twi, Twi Fante and Yoruba all being referred.

EMTAS has also seen a rise in the number of Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Children (UASC) referred for profiling.
Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Children (UASC)

According to the Refugee Council, in the year ending September 2022, the UK received 5,152 applications for asylum from unaccompanied children forced to flee their homes. The children we have met have come from Afghanistan, Albania, Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Turkey and Vietnam. Some of these Unaccompanied Asylum-seeking Children (UASC) have been placed in care and therefore in schools across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, but we have also been working with the Virtual School to provide profiling assessments for children placed in other counties.

Each pupil has undertaken a long and difficult journey in search of safety. They then have to learn to deal with a new language, a new school system and a new culture, without family and friends to support them. Many are resilient enough to manage this change incredibly well, whilst others find the new rules and restrictions of school in the UK too challenging, particularly if they had already left education some time ago in their country of origin or in some cases have never been to school at all. So, if one of these brave young people arrives at your school, please do get in contact with EMTAS as soon as possible so that we can work together to support them as they learn to adjust to their new life. For more information on UASC, see our Frequently Asked Questions.
Gypsy, Traveller, Roma, Showmen and Boaters (GTRSB) 

As usual the Traveller team have been busy supporting all our schools, families and children.  Julie Curtis and Steve Clark, our two Traveller Support Workers (TSWs), have been in schools visiting all our primary aged children whilst Claire Barker, our Traveller Team lead, has been supporting students in secondary schools via our GTRSB clinics.  In total, we have supported 285 children this academic year, whilst throughout the year Helen Smith, our Traveller Team Teacher, has helped 22 GTRSB pupils to get places in Hampshire schools.

The school year started off in September with World Funfair Month. We encouraged our schools to celebrate this and provided a pack of ideas and resources to help them get started. Fast forward to June, GRT History Month, and again we provided our schools with a pack of activities and resources to encourage pupils to take part.

We have also launched a couple of new initiatives, including the GTRSB book club. Last term our pupils read The Show Must Go On by Richard O’Neill. One pupil was so inspired by the book that she made an amazing Lego model fairground ride that featured all the characters from the book. We posted a picture on Twitter and Richard O’Neill himself commented. We also launched a gardening club which has been successful in providing some alternative provision for two groups of boys in a primary and a secondary school.

Heritage Language GCSEs

As students come to the end of their time in secondary, it is great to see so many schools celebrating multilingualism by offering Heritage Language GCSEs. This year EMTAS supported more than 152 candidates with 11 different languages, mirroring the amazing diversity of learners in our county. Polish topped the tables with the largest number of candidates, and our Bilingual Assistants have been racing from school to school to carry out all the speaking exams within the assessment window. We are looking forward to results day on 24 August when students can celebrate their achievements and EMTAS staff look on with pride.

Late arrivals

While some students may view GCSEs as the end of an educational marathon, for others it’s a sprint! Late arrivals (students who arrive in the UK in Year 10 or Year 11) have very little time to settle into their new country and new school before they are faced with GCSE exams. Many are new to English and some must contend with an entirely new alphabet! While not all undertake a full complement of subjects in this short timescale, it is a testament to their fortitude and hard work that so many leave with at least one GCSE. This also reflects the commitment of a host of amazing teachers. Even the best practitioners sometimes need a little help from their friends, so the team at EMTAS have recently released updated Guidance on good practice in relation to Late Arrivals. This aims to help schools navigate the crucial period when late arrivals first join their school and ensure they provide the best advice and guidance.
Study Skills Programme 

Members of our team have been busy planning, rewriting and resourcing a brand-new Study Skills Programme for Bilingual Assistants to offer to schools in the new academic year. The programme will be suitable for pupils who are literate in their first language and are working within Band A, B and early stage Band C (particularly for reading and writing). It will be offered to pupils in Year 5 and 6 as well as pupils in Secondary school. The aim of the course is to help pupils explore how they feel about their learning and their subjects and consider different tools and strategies they can apply in their lessons/homework. It will consist of 5 sessions of 50 minutes to be delivered over half a term. As we write this blog we are excitedly putting the final touches to the programme and presenting it to EMTAS colleagues for feedback. We are also looking for schools where our staff could trial the sessions in the first part of the Autumn term. We thank all our schools for supporting us while we train our staff to deliver our new programme after the summer break.
EAL Excellence Award (EXA) celebrations 

What a pleasure it is to further celebrate all the schools who have worked to achieve an EXA award this year. Huge congratulations go to Sopley Primary, Gosport and Fareham MAT, Portway Infants, St Matthew's CE Primary, St Patrick’s Primary and St Bernadette’s Primary who all achieved our Bronze award. Also, to Roman Way Primary, St Jude's RC Primary, St Michael’s Juniors, Bordon Infants, Henry Beaufort and Oakmoor for achieving Silver. Congratulations also go to St Swithun Wells, Cranbourne Business and Enterprise College, Cove Secondary School and Talavera Juniors for achieving Gold. We would like to give a special mention to Merton Infants who are the first school to achieve a revalidation at Gold; an incredible achievement! We still have a couple of schools to be validated (at time of print) so please keep up to date by checking our Twitter page regularly. Well done to all involved and thank you for all your hard work in supporting your learners with EAL. 
EMTAS Staffing update 

At the end of the summer term we say goodbye to Lisa Kalim from the Specialist Teacher Advisor team. During her 21-year tenure, Lisa has covered schools in the New Forest, led on Refugees and Asylum Seekers for the team and operated the EMTAS EAL/SEND phoneline, ever-popular with schools. From September, a new system for accessing support for children with both EAL and SEND needs will come into effect so do keep an eye out for information about this change.

We also say good bye to Rekha (Hindi), Kubra (Dari) and to Kasia P (Polish) from the Bilingual Assistant (BA) team. We wish them well in their next ventures. 

We welcome Kevin to the BA Team. Kevin joins our Chinese BA Team and will be working with Cantonese-speaking children from Hong Kong once he has completed his induction. We welcome Olena and Alex too, both of whom will be working with children from Ukraine. They will be our very first Bilingual ELSAs, joining Olha and Vlad, existing members of the EMTAS team. Together, the four of them will cover referrals for children from Ukraine as well as providing specialist ELSA support. The new Bilingual ELSA role will begin in the new term with ELSA training from the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Educational Psychology (HIEP) team. After their training Olha, Olena, Vlad and Alex will be deployed to schools. There they’ll work in partnership with school-based ELSAs to enable Ukrainian children to access ELSA support by removing any barriers caused by language and/or culture. 
Finally, a conclusion by Team Leader Sarah Coles 

As you can see, 2022-23 has been no less busy for EMTAS than 2021-22. Stepping into the role of Team Leader has brought with it both challenges and opportunities and whilst I’ve got used to these, the team has continued to work hard around me to make sure our Service continues to deliver professional, high-quality support to children, families and schools. Being at the forefront of developments in the EAL and GTRSB worlds has long been a source of pride to us, and this year we have continued to innovate and to inspire in all sorts of ways, some of which you have read about in this blog. I look forward to continuing in post in September as EMTAS enters its thirty-second year. 

[ Modified: Monday, 25 March 2024, 1:35 PM ]