In this blog, Lauren Atkins, EAL Champion at St Peter’s Catholic Primary in Waterlooville, writes about her experience working towards and achieving the Bronze EAL Excellence Award.
Back in May 2020, thick into Lockdown, even before Years R, 1 and 6 returned or ‘live’ teaching was compulsory, I sat at my desk at home, waiting nervously to join a Zoom call. The accumulation of 8 months of hard work had come to this; a validation meeting which I had to join via my mobile, with two people (one of whom I hadn’t met), under the constant concern that one or both of my children would make an entrance at some point with something inappropriate to say. Thankfully, this moment – before the meeting started – was the scariest, most problematic of the entire journey to achieving the EMTAS EAL Excellence Award at Bronze level! The rest was, thankfully, incredibly straight-forward.
I assumed the role of EAL Champion in the September after
completing my NQT year. I’d always had an interest in everything that would
fall under the inclusion agenda; anything which could help to identify and
overcome the barriers some children face when it comes to their learning. And
so I was thrilled to relieve my SENDCo of the responsibility and to have the
opportunity to really make a difference to many children - many, many children
in fact, as our school, St Peter’s Catholic Primary in Waterlooville, has the highest
percentage of pupils speaking English as an Additional Language in the area.
Of everything handed over to me by the SENDCo, hands down
the most valuable piece of information was the email address of the EMTAS
Specialist Teacher Advisor for our area - in my case, Chris Pim. After our very
first meeting, I was set up to be able to access the EMTAS Moodle, I had a
clear view of what the EAL Excellence Awards were, what would contribute to
‘evidence’ and how to record it.
I was also given access to the EMTAS e-learning. My first
stop was the ‘Role of the EALCo’ training and it was an absolute nerve-saver!
In particular, the action planning section of the training left me feeling
clear (not only on the responsibilities of the role but how to be successful),
in control and with an easy-to-follow, albeit reasonably sizeable list of
things to do – exportable as a PDF nonetheless!
I’m definitely a scribble on a paper-copy kind of person and
the EAL Excellence Award Criteria Reference Sheet became my new best friend,
annotated with what we were already achieving, what we could do to achieve
another or who I would need to meet with (usually the Head Teacher or the
Business Manager) in order to clarify.
Throughout this, I should say, that I was lucky in that I
had a portion of my PPA time every other week dedicated to all things EAL as
well as release time once a half term. I appreciate that I was more fortunate
than most in terms of dedicated time.
Along the journey, I dipped in and out of various training
modules as I needed them. I wouldn’t always complete them in one go but found
it useful to revisit and complete them when it suited. For instance, before
typing up a Hints and Tips Sheet for distributing to Class Teachers, I
completed the Teaching and Learning training. The EAL:SEND training I completed
with a specific child in mind, both to help me internalise things but also to
provide meaningful guidance to a real-life conundrum.
Anyway, I’m very pleased to say that my school is now working officially at Bronze level, on our way to Silver. In addition, I am thoroughly enjoying developing an area of expertise and raising the profile of EAL in our school community. Long may the benefits of the EAL Excellence Awards be felt!
Congratulations to Lauren and St Peter’s Catholic Primary for achieving the Bronze Award!
For more information about the EMTAS EAL Excellence Award, please see this page on our Moodle.
For more information about our e-learning modules, please see this page on our Moodle.
In this blog, Rosie Cayless, EAL Coordinator at Fernhill School, writes about her experience working towards and achieving Silver in the EMTAS EAL Excellence Award.
I was really keen to gain the EAL Excellence Award Level Silver for Fernhill School but, like everyone else, had no idea when I would have the time to actually do the work needed for this. Claire Barker from EMTAS visited me and went through the different criteria suggesting I could make a folder with all of my evidence and then fill in the online form too, but in less detail, as the documentation was in the folder. This galvanised me into action!
I decided to break the tasks down into ones that I knew as a school we were achieving, but needed to evidence (e.g parental engagement), and ones that required action to bring us up-to-date, such as CPD.
We arranged an EAL training session for NQTs (led by Claire) and opened it up to NQTs from other schools, which was well-received; we had a cosy pre-Covid roomful of over 30 teachers!
Some areas required a lot of detailed recording such as doing the Bell Foundation EAL profiles for selected students, while others could be demonstrated with photographs from events such as our Global Fair. The more evidence I collected, the more enjoyable it became.
I would say that the whole process increased my sense of job satisfaction; it was rewarding to examine all aspects of EAL provision and ask: ‘Are we doing the best for our students and their families and what can we improve?’ One of the most useful aspects of undertaking the challenge was to completely re-write our school’s EAL policy, which underpins our whole approach and proved to be a vital part of our application. And the most enjoyable was collating examples of some of the wonderful writing Fernhill students have done in their first language.
The moderation visit was conducted by Astrid Dineen - it was very thorough, one could even say rigorous! But by the end of the (lengthy) session, no stone was left unturned and I was left feeling hopeful that we would gain the award.
It was great to receive the email with the shiny Silver Award logo attached, Astrid sending congratulations as well as encouragement to go for the Gold Award next time!
Congratulations to Rosie and Fernhill School for achieving the Silver Award!
In this blog, Dawn Tagima, Cultural Ambassador at Cherrywood Community Primary School, writes about her experience achieving Gold in the EMTAS EAL Excellence Award.
My name is Dawn Tagima and I am the Cultural Ambassador at Cherrywood Community Primary School.
After achieving the silver Award in 2019, this April the school was delighted and very proud to be awarded the first Gold EAL Excellence Award from EMTAS. The Award was developed by the EMTAS Specialist Teacher Advisory team and is an online school self-evaluation framework to help monitor the impact of provision to all EAL children.
I was introduced to the Award at one of the EMTAS Network meetings run by Claire Barker. I quickly realised that not only would it be amazing for our school to be recognised in this way, it was going to be of huge benefit to me in my role.
The Excellence Award covers 5 broad areas-
Leadership and Management
Pedagogy and Practice
Data, Assessment and Progress
Teaching and learning
Parental and Community Engagement
Using this framework (which has become an invaluable tool), I was able to make sure that we, as a school, were ensuring the provision we were offering was making the best impact on our children.
I was still relatively new to the role and will admit to initially feeling a little overwhelmed, especially as we have a high percentage of EAL pupils in our school, so when the Award was shown to me I thought it perhaps seemed a scary prospect and was concerned it may add to my work load BUT how wrong was I! I was able to clearly see what was needed in our school and how this could be achieved.
I made the decision to keep a file, breaking it down into the 5 areas. I was able to add photographs, pieces of work children had completed, assessments etc to use as evidence. Personally I like things in ‘paper’ form that are easy to refer to. Equally, I know of other schools that have done the whole Award online which has also worked well for them.
One of the things we worked hard on in school to move from Silver to Gold was to ensure we were encouraging our children to use their first language in the classroom.
Some examples of this were one of our Yr 6’s wrote a beautiful piece of work about Word War 1 which was proudly put on a class display in Portuguese. She was very proud of this and shared her work with her peers. Another child in Yr 2 sat and wrote out the numbers from 1 to 100 in Nepali which again was displayed in class on the maths working wall and became a real topic of conversation.
The use of first language is also shown around the school environment with ‘hello’ and ‘welcome’ signs written by the children in the entrance hallway in many different languages and a ‘changeable’ sign outside that at present says’ be happy’ written in Pashto and translated to English.
Using first language in the school/classroom environment not
only embeds their first language but makes the children feel included, accepted
I was offered support from EMTAS throughout the whole process whether it be asking questions by e-mail or visits to the school to help inform me of our next steps and what we could improve on to reach our ‘goal’.
When I felt we were ready to be validated, I sent all the evidence to EMTAS and was then visited by a Specialist Teacher Advisor from another area, Astrid Dineen. I shared my file and we discussed what we were doing as a school and how we were ensuring we were embedding the best practice for our EAL learners and their families.
By using the Award as such an amazing tool, we have been able to make sure we are offering best practice in all areas but most importantly making sure we continue to do so in the future. As the school's Cultural Ambassador, I now feel so much more confident to know what this ‘best practice’ looks like which helps me in my day to day role. One of the criteria was to make a three year development plan so this is now in place to refer to and also reaching Gold has made the SLT team, the named Governor and all the teaching staff aware of what we have achieved and what we need to do moving forward. I am also carrying out observations in classes and auditing what resources are needed regularly.
Obviously we are living in a very different world at present
and all our children are needing extra support to settle back in. We as a
school are finding different ways to make sure our children still thrive and
learn. Our EAL children have come back happy and ready to learn and we are
determined this will continue!
I would encourage any school to use it. Everything is so clear and laid out for you and gives you the ability to see what you are working towards to become an ‘excellent school'!
Congratulations to Dawn and Cherrywood Community Primary School for achieving the Gold Award!
The Hampshire EMTAS Specialist Teacher Advisors have been supporting schools to complete the EAL Excellence Award for over a year now. Many schools have successfully earned their Bronze and Silver awards and are already working hard to achieve the next level up. Working with schools to drive EAL practice and provision forward through the EAL Excellence Award has highlighted areas of support which the EMTAS Teacher team has been keen to address.
One particular aspect of EAL good practice which many schools have had to consider is the use of first language as a tool for learning. Whilst most could confidently say that pupils felt comfortable speaking their languages at school (a feature evidenced at Bronze level), EAL co-ordinators felt that pupils could be better encouraged to use their languages to access the curriculum in the classroom (a feature evidenced at Silver level). In response to this, the EMTAS Teachers have been working closely with their schools to introduce ideas and strategies to support this and they are now keen to share their work with the EAL community.
Discover our brand new materials which consist of a narrated animation (below) with supporting material you will find attached to this blog: a transcript, activities based around the animation and an aide-mémoire summarising key strategies. Our work is still ongoing with a brand new piece of EAL elearning currently under development – watch this space!
In their last blog article published in the summer term, the Hampshire EMTAS team concluded the academic year with a celebration of their schools’ successful completion of the EAL Excellence Award. Now feeling refreshed after the summer break, the team look forward to the year ahead.
EAL Excellence Award
Our work supporting schools to develop and embed best practice for their EAL learners through the EAL Excellence Award continues. Surgeries will be held to help colleagues get ready for Bronze level and many of this year’s network meetings will focus on aspects of the award which practitioners need to develop for the next level up. For example, many schools will want to work on planning for the use of first language as a tool for learning this year (more on this in a future blog). See the EMTAS website for more information about the Award and how you can introduce it in your school or setting.
GRT Excellence Award
Following the success of the EAL Excellence Award, we have developed a similar award to support schools who have Gypsy, Roma and/or Traveller pupils on roll. At present, we have eight schools piloting the GRT Excellence Award and working towards getting their accreditation. To find out more, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
NALDIC Berkshire & Hampshire Regional Interest Group (RIG)
NALDIC is the National Association for Language Development in the Curriculum and has an EAL remit. Part of the work of NALDIC is to run Regional Interest Groups (RIGs) across the country. Many of you may have heard that Dr Naomi Flynn is giving up her role as convenor of the Berkshire and Hampshire RIG. Whilst we are sad as this means we will see less of Naomi, we are also excited that the responsibility will now be shared between Portsmouth EMAS, Dr Anna Tsakalaki at the University of Reading and ourselves at Hampshire EMTAS! We wish Naomi all the best in her new role of Events Chair for NALDIC and look forward to working with our new co-convenors.
EMTAS network meetings are a great opportunity to meet colleagues with an interest in EAL practice and provision, to share ideas and to access input and take part in discussions on a range of EAL-related issues. These termly meetings are free to Hampshire maintained schools; staff from academies or the independent sector are also welcome to attend for a small charge. To find dates and information about how to register for a network meeting near you, see the Training section of the EMTAS website.
Our EAL E-learning has been given a complete overhaul this year to bring it up to date. The modules will now play even better in the Chrome browser and are optimised for seamless delivery over mobile devices. Check out our latest module on the ‘Role of the EAL coordinator’ and look out for new modules being developed this year.
SEAL (Supporting English as an Additional Language)
Due to popular demand, this course is running again starting in October 2019. It is a training programme for support staff and EAL co-ordinators to help them build up their knowledge of EAL good practice and pedagogy and has a strong focus on practical strategies to support pupils with EAL within their school environment. The course covers best practice in the classroom, SEND or EAL?, assessment, working with parents of children with EAL and the latest digital technology and resources to support learning in the classroom. If you are interested in signing up for this course, please check details on our website.
This year the NALDIC conference takes place at King’s College London on 16th November (easy walking access from Waterloo station). The conference title this year is ‘Inclusive practices in multilingual classrooms: assessing and supporting EAL and SEND learners in the mainstream’. The NALDIC conference always has a good variety of workshops to suit all tastes, stands from publishers/resource providers and is a great place to network with colleagues from all over the country.
As you can see there are plenty of opportunities to get involved with EAL this year. We look forward to seeing you at an event near you.
Last September we kicked off our second year of blogging with an article introducing our new EAL Excellence Award, a self-evaluation tool for schools created with a view to support practitioners in developing EAL practice and provision. As they are about to break for their Summer holiday the Hampshire EMTAS Specialist Teacher Advisors reflect on their work with schools using the EAL Excellence Award in their area.
The award was met with much enthusiasm after its
launch in our blog and during network meetings. Practitioners found it helpful
as a way of mapping out the areas where provision was already strong whilst
identifying areas for development. For example, many schools identified the
need to appoint and train an EAL Governor. They reflected on policies and the
importance of writing a stand-alone EAL policy. The self-evaluation tool also
highlighted staff training needs which we supported through bespoke sessions as
well as our e-learning. Feedback from schools indicated that they found
the self-evaluation criteria relevant and purposeful.
schools have collated evidence into folders to make the validation visit as
smooth as possible. They have used each statement from the EXA as a divider and
then placed any appropriate evidence, such as lesson plans, copies of school
policies or photos of work, into each section. This
made the validation process relatively straightforward since all the evidence
could be found in one place. For one school, the portfolio of evidence was
a piece of work which particularly impressed the Ofsted inspectors.
The validation process
Validation visits were, in most cases, carried
out by a Specialist Teacher Advisor not previously connected with the
school in order to get a fresh take on practice and provision. It has also been great
being able to meet Young Interpreters in some schools and in one school there
was even the chance to meet with the school governor responsible for EAL. This was supplemented by tours to see displays and collections of
resources in the library or in classrooms. One tip for schools thinking
about gaining their own award might be to take pictures of anything ephemeral
like a classroom display and keep them in readiness.
Since the launch of these materials in September there
has been interest from colleagues beyond the bounds of Hampshire. Schools have
already purchased licenses to use the tool within their establishment and EAL
specialists have been trained as validators to work with schools in their
own locality. If you are interested in finding out more, please contact: Chris.Pim@hants.gov.uk.
More materials will be produced to support schools
with gaining their EAL Excellence Award in 2019-20. There will also be training
opportunities to support aspects of the framework which some schools have found
trickier e.g. using first language as a tool for learning. We will also work with our current bronze schools who might be thinking
about developing their practice and provision towards silver.
Building on the success of the EAL Excellence Award,
the EMTAS Traveller Team have introduced a Traveller Excellence
Award that is currently being piloted in eight schools all around
Hampshire. We hope to present our first award early in the Autumn
term. This award helps schools audit their provision for their Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities and helps to ensure that all
staff are well informed about the different GRT cultures in their
setting. If you are interested in finding out more, please contact: Claire.Barker@hants.gov.uk.
We congratulate the following schools for their hard
work in achieving their award:
Cherbourg Primary School, Eastleigh
Cove School, Farnborough
Hiltingbury Infants, Eastleigh
Marlborough Infant School, Aldershot
Merton Infant School, Basingstoke
New Milton Infant School, New Milton
South Farnborough Infant School, Farnborough
St John the Baptist Primary School, Andover
The Wavell School, Farnborough
Weeke Primary, Winchester
Cherrywood Community Primary School, Farnborough
Harestock Primary, Winchester
Ranvilles Infant School, Fareham
St John the Baptist Primary School, Fareham
Wellington Community Primary School, Aldershot
Visit our website to find out more about the
EAL Excellence Award and contact the Specialist Teacher Advisor for
your area to book a visit:
Basingstoke & Deane: Astrid Dinneen, email@example.com
and Test Valley: Jamie Earnshaw, firstname.lastname@example.org
Fareham and Gosport: Chris Pim, email@example.com
Hart, Rushmoor and East Hants: Claire Barker, Claire.Barker@hants.gov.uk
Havant and Waterlooville: Chris Pim, firstname.lastname@example.org
Isle of Wight: Lynne Chinnery Lynne.Chinnery@hants.gov.uk
New Forest – Lisa Kalim, email@example.com
Winchester: Sarah Coles, firstname.lastname@example.org
Hampshire EMTAS Consultant Sarah Coles discusses how you can make sure you’re heading in the right direction.
EAL is a broad topic that touches on many different aspects of school life. Because of this, staff in schools, EAL Co-ordinators in particular, are given to wonder how they might know whether or not practice and provision in their setting makes the grade. Others want to identify not just areas for improvement but also ideas as to how they might achieve these improvements. This is where the EAL Excellence Award comes in.
The EMTAS Specialist Teacher Advisor team devised the EAL Excellence Award as a way of enabling schools to evaluate both strategic and operational aspects of their EAL practice and provision. It is an online, interactive tool that covers 5 core strands:
- Leadership and Management
- Data, Assessment & Progress
- Pedagogy and Practice
- Teaching & Learning
Parental and Community Engagement.
On screen, it looks like this:
© Copyright Hampshire EMTAS 2018
Within each strand is a series of statements at Bronze, Silver and Gold levels. Progression is clarified as the statements are linear and there is help with the supporting evidence element in the form of a list of possible examples. Practitioners click on the statement they feel most closely reflects current practice in their school and type into a text box the evidence they have to support their judgement.
This is an example of statements at Bronze, Silver and Gold from the first focus within Leadership and Management, together with examples of where the evidence might be found to support the school’s judgement:
© Copyright Hampshire EMTAS 2018
Once all the statements within one strand have been completed, practitioners can see the overall awarding level for that area, Bronze, Silver or Gold. Once all 5 areas have been completed, they can see the complete picture for their school with the overall awarding level being the lowest of the 5 strands.
© Copyright Hampshire EMTAS 2018
For example the school above is asserting they are at Gold level for Leadership & Management, Data, Assessment & Progress and Parental & Community Engagement, Silver for Teaching & Learning and Bronze for Pedagogy and Practice. For this school, the overall awarding level would be Bronze. The outcome, presented pictorially, means the EAL lead can readily identify areas of strength and places where some developmental work might not go amiss. In the example above, they might choose to focus on Pedagogy and Practice through their EAL Development Plan for the year, using the Excellence Award tool to support them to develop this area. Thus the tool enables EAL Leads in schools to work in a focused way, achieving a balance of strategic and operational tasks within their role, thereby ensuring they make best use of the time they have available for their EAL work.
When the EAL Lead has completed all statements in all strands of the EAL Excellence Award, they can submit their work to EMTAS. A validation visit will be arranged and if successful, a Bronze, Silver or Gold certificate, valid for 2 years, will be awarded to the school to acknowledge the work they do for their EAL learners.
The EAL Excellence Award includes access to resources such as model EAL Policies, suggestions on where evidence might be found and links to sources of further information and guidance. It links with the EMTAS suite of e-learning modules too, which practitioners can dip into to improve their knowledge of EAL Pedagogy or to find out more about the role of the EAL Co-Ordinator.
To find out more about how to get hold of the EAL Excellence Award to use in your school, or to talk about how you can be trained as a Validator to use the tool in schools outside of Hampshire, please contact Sarah Coles, email@example.com.