Blog entry by Jamie Earnshaw

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by Jamie Earnshaw - Monday, 19 April 2021, 3:17 PM
Anyone in the world

In this blog, four reviewers on initial teacher training pathways at the University of Chichester provide feedback on the Hampshire EMTAS 'Big Ideas' App. The app is designed to offer a snapshot of all the significant issues related to working with learners of EAL and their families, with links and suggestions for further reading. The app also gives users the opportunity to produce an action point list which can be printed or copied for further editing.

Big Ideas Front

Big Ideas in EAL is an app designed to be used in schools containing a huge amount of information in one, easy to use area.  The simplicity of the design and clear layout belies the huge breadth and depth of information held within. It is easily accessible and the process of finding relevant information and ideas within each section is straightforward.


We felt overwhelmingly that this is an excellent resource for all school staff but especially NQTs and RQTs. For new teachers, the Teaching and Assessment and the Strategies and Resources sections have particularly valuable links that will be useful when thinking about lack of experience when working with children with EAL. The section on setting targets is also extremely useful, particularly with the links provided. This app would also benefit anybody in the teaching profession, especially those with little experience of teaching children with EAL, for example in a small village school, who may suddenly find themselves in a position where they have to. It would also benefit TEFL teachers.


The strategies and resources section would be ideal for lesson planning and teaching and we found the pedagogy section is especially useful: clear and concise, it does not assume any knowledge but is not patronizing either. The links to other pages and embedded documents are an excellent resource and save so much time. It’s great that you can make a list and then easily print it off, giving it to a TA perhaps. It is useful that you can save ideas for later (with the lightbulb) and print certain sections. We particularly liked the links that were in the cultural factors section, such as the TEACHING CULTURALY DIVERSE STUDENTS: RECOMMENDATIONS FOR TEACHERS which gave useful information how as a teacher you could provide an inclusive environment for children with EAL.


We thought it was important that wider school life and understanding has been brought into the EAL training – e.g. safeguarding / learning environment / pedagogy / SEND and EAL – and that, in particularly the safeguarding/SEND sections, there are other things to think about which may not occur to some at first, e.g. other things on top of EAL to be aware of. This was really valuable. It might be useful to have a section with quotes from children with EAL as to what they find/found most helpful in schools, what they enjoy/ed or benefit/ed most from. Their point of view may vary per child, but it would be interesting to have examples.


We liked that the homepage is colour-coded (e.g. red for strategies and resources / yellow for teaching and learning) as it makes it much clearer when navigating your way around the information. A couple of us found the white text on a black background a little hard to read and wondered if black on white would be visually more inclusive, or perhaps using warmer colours like turquoises and purples for the background or font. Using a big arrow pointing left to indicate "go back" rather than the words would be simpler, and the writing in the app in general would benefit from being a bit bigger as it is quite hard to read on a mobile phone screen. The symbols depicting each help section, e.g. links (spider diagram), ideas (lightbulb), print (printer!) are clear and these quick representations lighten the mental load when you are looking for something in a hurry. The hand-drawn illustrations are a nice personal touch.


We all liked the periodic table idea but did wonder about its relevance to EAL. However, it does provide a clear layout and we liked the coherence of the overall scheme. For example, when you click on a link e.g. Cd for Cultural Diversity, the same colour is used for the border, as well as the symbol ‘Cd’ and the full title, which ties together nicely. 


Gillian Roe (University of Chichester Academy Trust, School Direct)
Sarah Southey (University of Chichester Academy Trust, School Direct)
Sarah Green (The Bay, School Direct)
Alexandra Foster (Bishop Luffa, School Direct)


Many thanks to the trainee teachers for the feedback on the app. Watch this space for updates!


For more information about the Big Ideas App, and to access it, please visit the EMTAS Moodle


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[ Modified: Wednesday, 21 April 2021, 10:45 AM ]

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