Blog entry by Astrid Dinneen

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by Astrid Dinneen - Tuesday, 26 September 2023, 11:39 AM
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By the Hampshire EMTAS Specialist Teacher Advisors


In this first blog of the new academic year, the Hampshire EMTAS Teacher team share important news and highlights. There is much to look forward to!
 
Staffing

We are very pleased to welcome five new Bilingual Assistants (BAs) to our team:  Olena, Alex, Lana, Vlad and Kevin. Olena, Alex, Lana and Vlad speak Ukrainian and Russian (Lana speaks German too), and Kevin speaks Cantonese. Olena, Alex and Vlad will be joining Olha (who is also a Ukrainian and Russian-speaking BA) to act as B-ELSAs: bilingual ELSAs who, thanks to government funding, will be helping to support the emotional wellbeing of our refugees from Ukraine. We have also had an increase in referrals from Hong Kong and so Kevin will be joining Jenny and Catherine, our Cantonese-speaking BAs. This will help speed up response times for BA support for our Cantonese-speaking pupils.
 
GCSE results

September is always an exciting time of the year as we see results pour in for the Heritage Language GCSEs. This year EMTAS supported 152 candidates with 11 different languages and our Bilingual Assistants were delighted to meet so many talented bilingual or multilingual learners. As in previous years, the student success is spectacular! Results are still coming in, but so far more than 85% of students have achieved grade 7 or above.

Naturally it will soon be time to start the process all over again, so we are currently updating our training and processes to make everything run even more smoothly in 2024. We are grateful to all the schools who have given us useful feedback about their experience of EMTAS support and shared comments from the examiners’ reports. We look forward to achieving even more support requests for next summer when we relaunch our request form towards the end of the autumn term.
 
SEND/EAL news

After many years of operation, we closed the EMTAS EAL/SEND phoneline at the end of last academic year. However, we are still very much here to support colleagues in schools where there are concerns about a child for whom English is an Additional Language. Now, instead of waiting for Tuesday afternoon, you can phone us on our main office number at any time convenient to you during term time. A member of the team will either route your call through to the Specialist Teacher Advisor (STA) for your district OR take details from you so that your STA can phone you back. We hope that this will be a more direct, faster way of accessing support where you are working with children who are learning EAL and who may have additional needs.
 
Study Skills Programme

This academic year we are proud to be launching a new and innovative form of support for pupils in Years 5 and 6 and KS3/4 who are literate in their first language. The Study Skills Programme will be delivered to suitable pupils in withdrawal by EMTAS Bilingual Assistants. It aims to help pupils explore how they feel about their learning and their subjects and to equip them with different tools and strategies they can apply in their lessons and home learning. For example, pupils will learn to use Google Lens to create a glossary, have a go at using Immersive Reader to access a text and much more. The programme is being piloted this half-term with full roll-out planned for after the October break. To find out more about the programme and your role in ensuring it impacts classroom practice, sign up for our free network meeting on Monday 6 November at 9.30.
 
GTRSB attendance project

Some of our Traveller students have persistently poor attendance, and this inevitably impacts on their learning, progress and attainment. This academic year the EMTAS Traveller Team is going to be working in collaboration with four schools to pilot an Attendance Project. The aim of the pilot is to support school staff, Traveller parents and students to collaborate with the aim of improving the students’ attendance. It will involve regular monitoring of individual Traveller student’s attendance, regular communication with parents, coffee events and promotion of the EMTAS Traveller Excellence Award. It is hoped that this will result in a marked improvement in the attendance of the targeted students, and will also positively impact their academic progress.
 
RSE book

Relationships education became statutory for primary school children in 2020, creating a need for Traveller-specific approaches in order that children from our Traveller communities are able to access and engage with this area of learning.  EMTAS Specialist Teacher Advisors Helen Smith and Claire Barker have therefore developed two books which cover the relationship curriculum in line with Gypsy, Traveller, Roma, Showmen and Boater (GTRSB) cultural sensitivities. With advice and support from members of these communities, ‘How We Keep Ourselves Safe (Jesse’s Story)’ and ‘How We Keep Ourselves Safe (Mary-Kate’s Story)’ will soon be available to schools. The books follow Jesse and Mary-Kate as they learn how to keep themselves safe as they grow up within their community and online. The books will be launched at the EMTAS conference on October 12th 2023.
 
Training offer

We have been overwhelmed by the positive uptake and wonderful feedback from our training sessions over the years. We're keen to maintain this momentum, so why not join us and ensure you feel confident, knowledgeable and equipped with how best to support our learners of EAL? There are several different training opportunities for you to take part in which include our pan-Hampshire network meetings. Our next network meeting takes place on 11th October 3.30-4.30pm with a focus on using ICT to support learners of EAL. Don't worry if you can't make it as we will revisit these sessions throughout the year. View all our training dates via our website.

In addition to our network meetings, we are once again offering SEAL training. This course is the ideal starting point for teachers and TAs, particularly those who are taking on the role of EAL lead within their school. The course consists of 6 full days spread over 2 years, allowing plenty of time to slowly embed best practice within your school. More information about the SEAL course can be found on our website.

We are almost at capacity for our EMTAS Conference which takes place on 12th October 2023.  It's set to be an incredible event with guest speakers Jonathan Bifield and Sarah Coles along with Jacob Parvin and Jack Hill. If you'd like to grab one of the last spaces, please follow this link for more information.
 
Finally...

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[ Modified: Tuesday, 26 September 2023, 1:59 PM ]