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by Astrid Dinneen - Thursday, 22 September 2022, 2:06 PM
Anyone in the world

By the Hampshire EMTAS Specialist Teacher Advisors


Welcome to this new academic year. In this blog you will find out what’s in store for 2022-23, starting with a staffing update and news of fantastic heritage language GCSE results. We also share ideas and resources to celebrate World Fun Fair Month and details of upcoming training opportunities. Finally, we have news of our continued support for refugee arrivals and celebrate the achievement of schools on their EAL Excellence Award.


Staffing

To kick off, we have some news about our staffing. We are delighted to welcome new Bilingual Assistants this year, Olha Herel (Ukrainian), Jenny Lau (Cantonese) and Kubra Behrooz (Dari). 

From our Teacher Team, last term we bade farewell to Specialist Teacher Advisor Jamie Earnshaw, who worked with schools in Eastleigh, Fareham and Gosport. In his place, Lynne Chinnery is now covering Fareham and Gosport districts in addition to Havant & Waterlooville and the Isle of Wight. As a temporary measure whilst we wait for our new recruit to join the EMTAS Teacher team, Claire Barker is back on the team and covering Eastleigh and East Hants whilst Kate Grant has added Hart to her brief. Helen Smith is covering Rushmoor and all things GTRSB – that’s Gypsy, Traveller, Roma, Showmen and Boater in case you are wondering about the new nomenclature there, following the lead of the Traveller Movement and ‘The Pledge’. 

Finally, Michelle Nye, the erstwhile Team Leader, left EMTAS at the start of this term to take up the role of Executive Head of the Virtual School for Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. In her place, Sarah Coles is currently acting Head of Service with Claire Barker as her trusty sidekick, acting up into the Deputy Team Leader role.


GCSE results

2021-22 was a bumper year for Heritage Language GCSEs. In the summer 2022 exam series, EMTAS Bilingual Assistants supported 106 students in schools across the county with their Heritage Language exams. Students took GCSEs in 11 different languages, with Persian added to the list thanks to Sayed Kazimi, our Pashto, Dari and Farsi-speaking Bilingual Assistant who supported our first ever Persian candidate. Our Admin team gathered in the results from schools as soon as we started back in September; the full list is now on the EMTAS website, but we are thrilled to be able to report that 60 of those students achieved Grade 9, with another 25 being awarded Grade 8. Our congratulations go to all those students.



World Fun Fair Month

September is dedicated to celebrating our Showmen children and families. World Fun Fair Month was started by Future 4 Fairgrounds which is a community organisation set up by 6 Showmen women to celebrate the Showmen community as well as raise awareness of the challenges they face. Our team is proud to have supported WFFM by collating ideas and resources for schools to use throughout September to celebrate this important month for our Showmen families. There is still time to share children’s work with us so we can display it on the EMTAS website and Moodle. You can share anything from your school’s celebrations by sending it via email to EMTAS@hants.gov.uk with ‘World Fun Fair Month 2022’ in the subject line, ensuring it includes no photos or names of children (only the names of the schools the children attend will be published).

 
For your diaries - upcoming training opportunities

Back by popular demand this term are our online network meetings which will be co-delivered after school by different members of the EMTAS Teacher Team. There are three dates for a session focussing on catering for the needs of refugee arrivals: September 22nd, October 11th and November 8th. We also have three dates for a session focussing on the needs of new to English arrivals on September 27th, October 20th and November 16th. There are details of how to join these meetings on our website.

This half-term we also recruit for our Supporting English as an Additional Language (SEAL) course. This course is suitable for teachers, EAL co-ordinators and support staff in both primary and secondary phases. This is a two-year course: it comprises of six units taught over 6 days. It is held in Winchester and starts in November 2022 and ends in May 2024 therefore it can be budgeted over three academic years. The benefits of sending a member of staff on this course are far-reaching. Not only does it upskill a member of your staff in becoming an expert in English as an Additional Language (EAL) but it also leads to raising EAL standards at your school. Through the course colleagues will explore different cultural practices, learn how to confidently assess pupils with EAL including whether a child’s needs are SEN or EAL, discover the latest technologies to help support pupils with EAL and become more aware of how to support parents of children with EAL. The course also helps towards gaining the EAL Excellence Award. For more information about SEAL, please visit our website

Plans are already underway for our not to be missed EMTAS conference which will take place in the Autumn of 2023. Keep an eye out for save the date information which will be sent out this Spring term. We look forward to seeing many of our blog readers at this event which promises to be as thought-provoking as ever. 


Refugee arrivals 

EMTAS referrals for refugee pupils are continuing to arrive and we are pleased to see many school colleagues book on our network meetings to find out more about how to cater for this group of children and young people. We are also delighted to see schools make good use of our resources centre by borrowing dual language stories, translated texts and devices such as talking pens.

Some schools in Hampshire and on the Isle of Wight have been receiving requests from Ukrainian parents for patterns of attendance/provision that differ from full time attendance at school/participation in mainstream lessons every day. In many cases families are looking to return to Ukraine once it is safe to do so and it is therefore understandable that they may want their child(ren) not to miss out on the Ukrainian curriculum. In a recent School Communication also available on our Moodle we share some considerations and points to bear in mind which may help with the decision-making around such requests as well as alternatives to explore.

Later this term we look forward to adding a new blog to our refugee series where we will unpick the differences and similarities between refugees arriving from Afghanistan and those arriving from Ukraine. Later this academic year we will also be sharing cultural information about these countries on our website.


EXA news

In our previous blog we celebrated the achievement of schools on their GRT and EAL Excellence Awards. As we begin this new academic year, we congratulate even more schools on achieving their EAL Award. A huge well done to Endeavour Primary, Shakespeare Infants, Chalk Ridge Primary and St Matthew's CE Primary School for all their hard work and dedication in improving their practice and provision for their learners with EAL. 

Those of you who are currently on your journey to achieve an EXA award may have noticed some changes to the criteria we use to validate. We hope this will further improve standards and that you find it more user friendly. Any schools currently in the process are invited to submit their evidence using either the old, new or a mixture of criteria. As always, if you have any questions regarding the EXA award, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with your Specialist Teacher Advisor. 


Heritage Honours Award

Would you like to encourage your learners from BME, EAL and GTRSB backgrounds and reward them for their hard work and perseverance? The Heritage Honours Award was created to celebrate the achievements of these learners and is open to all Hampshire and Isle of Wight schools. Learning a new culture and/or English as an additional language can be a long and difficult path so why not recognise this by nominating them for a Heritage Honours Award? Relevant areas of success could include exceptional progress in acquiring EAL, overcoming adversity, first language achievements eg use of first language as a tool for learning, active involvement in the EMTAS first language pupil training program, storytelling, writing in L1, Heritage Language GCSEs, etc. and promoting linguistic, religious and cultural awareness in school. For more information and details of how to nominate please go to the Heritage Honours section on our Moodle


Finally... 

We are all looking forward to continuing working with you and to sharing more blogs written by different members of our fabulous team. Come back next week to read Lynne Chinnery's Memoirs of a Travelling Teacher.


[ Modified: Tuesday, 27 September 2022, 12:10 PM ]
 
Picture of Astrid Dinneen
by Astrid Dinneen - Thursday, 30 June 2022, 12:53 PM
Anyone in the world

By the Hampshire EMTAS Specialist Teacher Advisors


1077 pupils, 60 languages, 70 countries of origin; 2021-22 has been a year like no other. In this blog, we reflect on the highlights of a very busy academic year and share some of the things schools can look forward to after the summer. Notably we discuss our response to our refugee arrivals and Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Children, review our SEND work, examine how our research projects are progressing, feedback on our GTRSB work, give an update of developments around the Young Interpreter Scheme, ECT programme and Persona Dolls and celebrate the end of support for Heritage Language GCSEs for this academic year. EMTAS Team Leader Michelle Nye concludes this blog with congratulations, farewells and an update around staffing. 


Response to refugee arrivals

As we post this blog, 275 refugee arrivals have been referred to Hampshire EMTAS in 2021-22. These pupils predominantly arrived from Afghanistan and Ukraine with a small number coming from other countries such as El Salvador, Pakistan and Syria. EMTAS welcomed new Bilingual Assistant colleagues to support pupils speaking Ukrainian, Dari/Farsi and Pashto and a lot of work went into supporting and upskilling practitioners in catering for the needs of new refugee arrivals. We delivered a series of online network meetings where colleagues from across Hampshire joined members of the EMTAS Specialist Teacher Advisor team to find out more about suitable provision. We launched a new area on Moodle to share supporting guidance and resources. We published two blogs – Welcoming refugee children and their families and From Kabul to a school in Basingstoke – Maryam’s story. And we added two new language phonelines to our offer, covering Russian and Pashto/Dari/Farsi. 

In the Autumn term you can look forward to further dates for network meetings focussing on how to meet the needs of refugee new arrivals. There will also be sessions where we will explore practice and provision in relation to catering for the needs of pupils who are in the early stages of acquiring English as an Additional Language (EAL). In addition to this, we are planning a blog in which we will interview our new Ukrainian-speaking Bilingual Assistant to share with you the specificities of working with Ukrainian children. The team is also working alongside colleagues from HIAS and HIEP to collate FAQs from queries and observations related to asylum seekers and refugees who have recently arrived into Hampshire.  


Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Children (UASC)  

It’s been a busier than usual year for UASC new arrivals too, with 11 young people being referred to us having made long and dangerous journeys to the UK on their own. They have travelled from countries such as Sudan, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and Eritrea and speak a variety of languages including Arabic, Kurdish Sorani, Tigrinya and Pashto. The majority have been placed in schools outside of Hampshire and so have been profiled remotely, but some are now attending Hampshire schools meaning that we have been able to visit them in person. There is lots of advice available for schools receiving UASC onto their school roll on our website. This includes detailed good practice guidance and Welcome to Hampshire (an information guide written for the young people) translated into several key languages with audio versions also available. 


SEND work  

The SEND phone line run by Lisa Kalim continues to be well used by schools as their initial point of contact with EMTAS when they have concerns about a pupil with EAL and suspect that they may have additional needs. There have been almost 100 calls made on this line to date this academic year. After school tends to be the busiest time so if you can ring earlier, it may be easier to get through first time. It is helpful to have first read the information on our website about steps to take when concerned that a pupil with EAL may also have SEND and to have gathered the information suggested in the sample form for recording concerns before calling. In many cases advice can be given over the phone without the need for a teacher advisor visit to the school.  However, for others a visit by one of our Teacher Advisors can be arranged. This year, our Teacher Advisors have been especially busy with this aspect of our work and have completed over 60 visits since September. These have focused on establishing whether individual pupils may have additional needs as well as EAL or not and also on the enhanced profiling of those for whom a school will be submitting a request for assessment for an EHCP. 


Ongoing research 

It’s been a catch-up sort of year for Sarah Coles, with a delayed start to her data collection due to Covid affecting the normal transition programmes schools have for children due to start in Year R in September. Through the Autumn, Spring and Summer terms, Sarah has made visits to schools to work with the eleven children who are involved in her research. The children are either Polish or Nepali heritage and they were all born in the UK. This means they have not experienced a monolingual start to life, hence Sarah’s interest in them and their language development.   

The children have talked about their experiences of living in two languages – although as it turns out they’ve had very little to say about this. Code-switching is very much the norm for them and having skills in two languages at such a young age seems to be nothing remarkable or noteworthy in their eyes. They’ve also done story-telling activities in their home languages and in English, once in the autumn term and again in the summer. This will enable comparisons to be made in terms of their language development as they’ve gone through their first year of full time compulsory schooling in the UK.  
Early findings suggest big differences between the two language groups. The Nepali children tend to prefer to respond in English and most have not been confident to use Nepali despite all demonstrating that they understand this language when it’s used to address them. This has been the case whether they are more isolated – the only child who has access to Nepali in their class - or part of a larger group of children in the same class who share Nepali as a home language. In contrast, the Polish children have all been much more confident to speak Polish, responding in that language when it’s used to address them as readily as they use English when spoken to in that language. This has been the case whether they’re more isolated at school or part of a bigger cohort of children. 

The field work ends in the summer with final interviews with the children’s parents and teachers. Sarah then has a year to write up her findings, submit her thesis and plan how best to share what she’s learned with colleagues in schools. 
 

Young Interpreter news

This academic year Astrid Dinneen launched the Young Interpreter Champion initiative. Young Interpreter Champions are EAL consultants outside Hampshire who are accredited by Hampshire EMTAS to support schools in their area in running the Young Interpreter Scheme according to its intended ethos. Currently 6 Local Authorities are in our directory with more colleagues enquiring about joining.

Established Young Interpreter Champions met on Teams in the Summer term to find out how the Young Interpreter Scheme is developing in participating Local Authorities and to plan forward for 2022-23. They also heard more about Debra Page’s research on the Young Interpreter Scheme under the supervision of the Centre for Literacy and Multilingualism at the University of Reading and with Hampshire EMTAS as a collaborative partner.  

The aim of Debra’s research is to evaluate the scheme’s impact on children’s language use, empathy and cultural awareness by comparing Young Interpreter children and non-interpreter children. Her third and final wave of data collection took place during the Autumn term 2021. This year is dedicated to analysing her data and writing her PhD thesis. Her chapter on empathy and the Young Interpreter Scheme is complete and she will soon write a summary about this in a future Young Interpreters Newsletter. She also looks forward to sharing results of what is found out in terms of intercultural awareness and language use.   


GRT update 

It has been a very busy year for the GRT team. Firstly, we will be moving towards using the more inclusive term of Gypsy, Travellers, Roma, Showmen and Boaters – GTRSB when referring to our communities. 

As usual our two Traveller Support Workers Julie Curtis and Steve Clark have been out and about supporting GTRSB pupils in schools. The feedback they receive from schools and families is very positive. The pupils look forward to their opportunity to talk about how things are going and they value having someone listen to them and help sort out any issues. Our Traveller team lead Helen Smith has been meeting with families, pupils and schools to discuss many issues including attendance, transport, exclusions, elective home education (EHE), relationships and sex education, admissions and attainment.  

Helen, Sarah Coles and Claire Barker have also been working on an exciting project to help schools support their GTRSB pupils with the Key Stage 1 and 2 compulsory relationship curriculum. The team have created two books that follow Mary-Kate and Jesse as they navigate their way through the issues surrounding growing up safely. The book has been written in consultation with members of the Romany, Irish Traveller and Showmen communities and is currently with an artist who is working on the book’s illustrations. 

Helen has been lucky enough to work with some members from Futures4Fairground who have advised us on best practice when including Showmen in our Cultural Awareness Training. Members of the F4F team also attended and contributed to our schools’ network meeting and to our GTRSB practitioners’ cross-border meeting. 

The team was busy in June encouraging schools to celebrate GRT History Month. We devised activities and collated resources around the theme of ‘homes and belonging’. Helen attended an event to celebrate GRTHM at The University of Sussex. It was aimed at all professionals involved in working with members from all GTRSB communities in educational settings. It was encouraging to see so many professionals attending. Helen particularly enjoyed watching a performance of Crystal’s Vardo by Friends, Family and Travellers. 
Sarah and Helen have been making plans for celebrating World Funfair Month in September. We have already put some ideas together for schools on our website and hope to develop them further with help from our friends at Future4Funfairs. 

Looking forward to next year, as well as reviewing our GRT Excellence Award, we will be looking at how best to encourage and support our schools to take the  GTRSB pledge for schools  - improving access, retention and outcomes in education for Gypsies, Travellers, Roma, Showmen and Boaters. Schools that complete our Excellence Award should then be in a position to sign the pledge and confirm their commitment to improving the education for all their GTRSB families.  
 

Early Career Teachers (ECT) programme

The Initial Teacher/Early Career Teacher programme that Lynne Chinnery is preparing for next academic year is really coming together. After a large proportion of student teachers stated they were still uncertain how to support their EAL learners after completing their training programmes (Foley et al, 2018), the EMTAS team decided to do something about it. 

Lynne has collated a set of slides to train student and early career teachers on best practice for EAL learners by breaking down the theory and looking at practical ways to implement it in the classroom. The sessions cover such areas as supporting learners who are new to English; strategies to help students access the curriculum; assessing and tracking the progress of EAL learners; and information on the latest resources/ICTs and where to find them.

The programme has been made as interactive as possible in order to reinforce learning, with training that practices what it preaches. For example, it provides opportunities for group discussions that build on the trainees' previous experiences. The trainees can then try out the strategies they have learnt once they are back in the classroom.  

Lynne Chinnery has already used the slides on a SCITT training programme and the feedback from that was both positive and useful. One part the students particularly enjoyed and commented on was being taught a mini lesson in another language so that they were literally placed in the position of a new-to-English learner. This term, Lynne and Sarah Coles have met with an artist who is designing the graphics for the training slides - once again demonstrating a feature of EAL good practice: the importance of visuals to convey a message. The focus in the autumn term will be a reflective journal for student teachers to use alongside the training sessions. 


Heritage Language GCSEs

This has been a particularly busy year for us supporting students with the Heritage Language GCSEs. We received 136 requests from 32 schools. We provided support for Arabic, Cantonese, German, Greek, Italian, Mandarin, Polish, Portuguese, Russian and Turkish. For the first time this year, we also supported a student with the Persian GCSE. 

The details of the packages of support we will be offering next year will be shared with you in the Autumn term. You can also check our website. Remember to get your referrals in to us in good time! 

We wish all students good luck as they await their results! A big thank you to Jamie Earnshaw for leading on this huge area of work. Sadly Jamie is leaving at the end of the Summer term. Claire Barker returns from retirement to take over the co-ordination of Heritage Language GCSEs from September. 


Persona doll revamp

Persona Dolls are a brilliant resource which provide a wonderful opportunity to encourage some of our youngest learners to explore similarities and differences between people and communities. They allow children time to explore their own culture and learn about the culture of someone else. The EMTAS team currently have around 20 Persona Dolls, all of which come with their own identity, books and resources from their culture to share and celebrate.  

Now some of you may have noticed that our Persona Dolls have been enjoying a little hiatus recently. What you will not have seen is all the work that is currently going on behind the scenes in our effort to revamp them. Within our plans we aim to provide better training for schools so that you as practitioners feel more confident in using them within your classrooms. Kate Grant is also looking at ways to incorporate technology so that you can have easier access to supporting guidance, links to learn more about the doll’s heritage and space to share the experience your school has of working with our Persona Dolls.  EMTAS know that our schools recognise the value of this wonderful resource and look forward to seeing the positive impact they will have on their return.  


Finally, a conclusion by Team Leader Michelle Nye

The last time EMTAS topped 1000 referrals was 7 years ago so it has been one of the busiest years we have experienced in quite a while. This was due to the exceptional number of refugee referrals and to a spike in Malayalam referrals whose families have come to work in our hospitals. On top of this we had over 120 new arrival referrals from Hong Kong; these children are here as part of the British Hong Kong Nationals Overseas Programme.    

EMTAS recruited additional bilingual staff and welcome Sayed Kazimi (Pashto/Dari/Farsi), Tsheten Lama-North (Nepali), Kubra Behrooz (Dari), Tommy Thomas (Malayalam), Jenny Lau (Cantonese) and Olha Herhel (Ukrainian) to the team.   

We are delighted that schools have been committed to improving their EAL and GRT practice and provision and have achieved an EMTAS EAL or GRT Excellence Award this year.  Congratulations to St Swithun Wells, Bramley CE Primary, St James Primary, Marchwood Infant, New Milton Infant, St John the Baptist (Winchester District), Bentley Primary, St Peters Catholic Primary, Swanmore College, Poulner Junior, Grayshott CofE Primary, The Herne Primary, Wellington Community Primary, Marlborough Infants, John Hanson, Fleet Infants, Fairfields Primary, Swanmore CofE Primary, Brookfield Community School, Fernhill School, New Milton Junior Elvetham Heath and Red Barn Primary.  

We say goodbye to Jamie Earnshaw, Specialist Teacher Advisor, who has been with EMTAS since 2012.  During his ten-year tenure, his work has included producing the late arrival guidance on our website, developing our Accessing the curriculum through first language: student training programme now available for pupils in both primary and secondary phases, and for leading on our Heritage Language GCSE work.  His are big shoes to fill and we will miss him immensely; we wish him every success in his new venture.   

Enjoy your summer holiday and see you again in September.  
 
 

Data correct as of 30.06.2022 
Word cloud generated on WordArt.com 
[ Modified: Monday, 4 July 2022, 3:06 PM ]
 
Anyone in the world

Written by Helen Smith, Lynne Chinnery and Sarah Coles, all of the Hampshire EMTAS Specialist Teacher Advisor team, this blog presents the latest addition to the suite of EMTAS e-learning modules, 'Developing Culturally Inclusive Practice in Early Years Settings'. The new module is aimed at practitioners working in Early Years settings with children and families for whom English is an Additional Language (EAL), or who are from Gypsy, Roma & Traveller (GRT) or Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) backgrounds. 



The EYFS Statutory Framework states that “providers have a responsibility to ensure positive attitudes to diversity and difference. Not only so that every child is included and not disadvantaged, but also so that they learn from the earliest age to value diversity in others and grow up making a positive contribution to society”.  The themes of inclusion and diversity pinpointed in this statement form the foundation on which the EMTAS Early Years e-learning module sits.


Why Early Years e-learning?

Practitioners in Early Years settings often wonder if what they’re doing for the EAL, GRT and BME children in their care is good practice, as inclusive of the needs of all children and their families as possible.  Elsewhere, in settings that don’t have any children from these backgrounds – few and far between these days - work in this area is recognised as equally important.  Yet it can be a challenge to find affordable guidance and training to help develop practitioners’ knowledge and understanding of their inclusion brief, without which they may not feel entirely confident when it comes to delivering fully inclusive practice in settings.

There are many questions practitioners might have about their contributions towards the diversity and inclusion agenda.  For instance, what advice should they give families whose home language is not English?  Should they tell them to carry on speaking their home language(s) to their child or swap to English instead?  The answer to this one is that parents/carers should carry on using their strongest language with their child.  It really doesn’t matter what that language is; young children can cope with more than one language from an early age and for parents to continue using the home language whilst their child gained exposure to English in an Early Years setting would be one way of raising a child bilingually (there are others).  It is also the best way of ensuring that the child develops secure language skills whilst at the same time staying in touch with their cultural and linguistic identity. 

For some children, coming into an Early Years setting can bring many new experiences they have to learn to manage.  For GRT children used to an ordered, uncluttered home environment, the setting might seem chaotic and overwhelming with its bright colours, numerous toys and messy play.  GRT children may have played outside a lot and may therefore find being indoors sitting still at an activity very challenging.  The e-learning explains this and other aspects of GRT cultures so that practitioners can grow their understanding of how best to support GRT children attending their setting. 

Other children may come with limited or no experience of being in an English-speaking environment.  Accustomed to being spoken to in Urdu or Dari or Polish at home, this can be disconcerting and can result in some children becoming silent in the setting, especially at the beginning – which in turn can be a cause for concern to practitioners and parents alike.  The e-learning will help staff better understand things like the ‘silent period’ as well as know what to do to support a child through it.

The term “Black and Minority Ethnic” is more comprehensive and generally encompasses a much broader sweep of children and families, not all of whom will speak another language or have lived in another country.  The issues around diversity that staff in settings need to consider in relation to BME children may arise out of language differences, cultural differences, religious differences and/or differences relating to ethnic identity.  Images on display in a setting should positively reflect diversity, especially so in settings where the majority population is white.  Think also about the books used for story telling; do they include pictures of different kinds of families or of children of different ethnicities?  Have you thought about choosing stories that don’t focus on pigs if you work with Muslim families?  Or stories that reflect some of the home experiences of your GRT children?  If this all seems a bit overwhelming, take heart; the e-learning will help guide you through the diversity maze and empower you to make some carefully considered choices when it comes to provision in your setting.


Towards a more holistic view of the unique child

Cultural and/or language barriers can mask what children are able to do, hiding their interests, skills, abilities and home experiences from staff in settings.  Yet it’s really important that practitioners make efforts to find out what children bring with them to the setting.  This can help staff better tailor provision so each child receives the best experience from their attendance. 

Completing the e-learning will support practitioners to explore and understand what the features of a truly inclusive setting are. This will in turn help them develop their own practice so they give the best start to all their children.

 
Getting started

Try doing a learning walk around your setting with another member of staff.  Ask yourselves if what you see reflects the diversity that exists in the wider world.  Do the books you share with children include different languages and images of people from diverse backgrounds?  Do you have cooking utensils from other cultural traditions in your home corner?  What about the clothing in the dressing-up box? 

If you’re not sure where to begin with a learning walk like this, the EMTAS Early Years e-learning can help.  It presents guidance and information about a range of issues related to inclusion and diversity using images, short pieces of text and interactive activities like the one shown below. 



Screen shot of an interactive activity from the Early Years e-learning module

Included in the module is a checklist practitioners can use to evaluate practice and provision in their setting.  It will support you to develop an action plan appropriate to your own children, staff and setting, so any developmental work you undertake will be focused and meaningful, delivering positive change.  It also signposts you to further sources of guidance and to resources you might use with children in your setting, many of which are free.

Contact EMTAS to discuss how to gain access to the Early Years e-learning for staff in your setting.  The price varies according to the number of registrations you need.

 
Further reading/resources

Free guidance for EYFS from The Bell Foundation:
https://www.bell-foundation.org.uk/app/uploads/2019/01/Guiding-principles-for-EYFS.pdf
 
Food for thought plus signposting available from Entrust:
Reflecting on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in the Early Years | Entrust (entrust-ed.co.uk)
 
Suppliers of multicultural books:
Multicultural Diversity Children's Books - Letterbox Library
Mantra Lingua UK | Dual language books and bilingual books and resources for bilingual children and parents and for the multi-lingual classroom.
 
Free comprehensive guidance pack from Hampshire EMTAS:
Guidance for Early Years/Year R settings | Hampshire County Council (hants.gov.uk)



[ Modified: Monday, 14 March 2022, 10:18 AM ]
 
Anyone in the world

By Steve Clark, Hampshire EMTAS Teaching Assistant for Travellers


Hampshire EMTAS is pleased to announce the release of a new e-learning module for all school staff who support children and families from GRT backgrounds. This module - which complements existing EMTAS cultural awareness training - aims to offer CPD in a way, and at a time, which fits in with practitioners’ busy work schedules. It offers an insight, through self-driven exploration, into the linguistic and cultural aspects of several GRT backgrounds. There are phase-specific examples of how best to support children and families from GRT heritages and an opportunity to build an action plan to support your work with your GRT communities. 


So what does it look like?

The GRT e-learning course takes approximately 40 minutes to complete. The objective is to provide a general awareness of several GRT cultural groups, their languages, their history and from where these groups originated. It is designed to enable the learner to explore various aspects to the support offered by a school to its GRT pupils and their families.


Who should take this course?

This unit will be relevant for class teachers, Governors, TAs/LSAs, the GRT coordinator and any home-school link workers. It is particularly relevant for any trainee teachers and those at an early stage in their teaching career. It is also a useful addition to the training programme of any agency that supports children and families from GRT backgrounds, whether they are within or outside of Hampshire.


What does it include?


Find out interesting facts about GRT cultures around the world and listen to four podcasts about Roma, Irish Travellers, English Gypsies and Showmen. In addition, you can have a try at a language activity which will introduce you to Romany. There are interactive school maps where you can access phase specific information about catering for GRT families. You can learn more about the benefit of ascription for GRT pupils, their families and the school and there is helpful advice about attendance issues, dual registration, distance learning and how and when to use the ‘T’ Code appropriately. The unit culminates with the creation of an action plan to support your role as GRT Lead.
 
How can I access this module?

This module is available free of charge to Hampshire LEA schools and Academies that have bought into the Hampshire EMTAS SLA. There is a charge for other institutions to access the unit. Please contact emtas@hants.gov.uk for details.


Where can I find out more about GRT?

Read our blogs

Visit our website and use the tabs to find out more about GRT resources, how to access support for a Traveller child, effective distance learning for GRT pupils, the GRT Excellence Award and Kushti Careers

Guidance for schools regarding attendance

A Study Into the Use of the T Code

Find out more about our suite of e-learning modules, including The Culturally Inclusive School


[ Modified: Tuesday, 4 January 2022, 12:14 PM ]
 
Picture of Astrid Dinneen
by Astrid Dinneen - Thursday, 30 September 2021, 2:54 PM
Anyone in the world

By Claire Barker


At long last we bring you the good news that the EMTAS conference will take place on 15th October 2021 at The Holiday Inn, Winchester. We are delighted that this will be an in person event; over the last eighteen months, the conference date has been moved several times because we really wanted to be able to meet and greet you face to face. This is, at last, possible and we look forward to welcoming practitioners who work in any phase of education from EYFS to KS4 to the long-awaited event.
 
The Conference is titled ‘All in this together – going from strength to strength’. This reflects the post pandemic fatigue felt by many of us and how we now need to move forward together to support our EAL and GRT children who have maybe struggled with their education during the pandemic. Many EAL and GRT children will have lost skills they’d acquired in English and will now be playing catch up. Many will have missed out on peer-to-peer interaction and the opportunities this provides to develop social language and interpersonal skills. On the positive side, some will have improved their first language skills as a result of spending more time living in that language. Others will have increased their ICT skills and their digital literacy and this will be a focus of one of our workshops, how to use ICT programmes to support literacy in the classroom. 

We are very fortunate to be able to welcome Eowyn Crisfield, who is a well know name in linguistic communities. Eowyn is a Canadian-educated specialist in languages across the curriculum, including EAL, home languages, bilingual and immersion education, super-diverse schools and translanguaging. Her focus is on equal access to learning and language development for all students, and on appropriate and effective professional development for teachers working with language learners. She is author of the recent book ‘Bilingual Families: A practical language planning guide (2021) and co-author of “Linguistic and Cultural Innovation in Schools: The Languages Challenge” (2018 with Jane Spiro). She is also a Senior Lecturer in TESOL at Oxford Brookes University.

Our very own Deputy Team Leader, Sarah Coles is currently studying for her PhD. Sarah’s longitudinal study, now in its fourth year, focuses on children with Nepali or Polish in their backgrounds. These two languages represent the greatest number of referrals made by schools to Hampshire EMTAS, hence the relevance of the research to the Hampshire context. In her presentation, Sarah will consider some of the features of the linguistic soundscape experienced by UK-born bilingual children. Drawing on findings from her pilot study, she will discuss the use of the Multilingual Assessment Instrument for Narratives, drawing attention to some points of note for mainstream practitioners with an interest in language development. 

Our third keynote speaker of the day is Leanda Hawkins.  Leanda is from a Hampshire Romany family with a long history of culture and heritage. She went on to Higher Education, and has carved a career supporting children with special educational needs. Her motivation is to help all children progress and thrive through education. Leanda will share her experiences of education as a child, student and artist now working as Behavioural Lead and HLTA in a federated school in Hampshire. 

The workshop offer will include a session with Eowyn looking at 'Language and literacy development for multilingual learners: What do we know and what can we do?'. There will be an interactive IT session looking at OT programmes to support literacy in the classroom led by Lynne Chinnery.  Jamie Earnshaw will lead a workshop focusing on the 'New Hampshire EMTAS first language support programmes'. Helen Smith will host a session on 'Literacy for GRT pupils and breaking barriers in the school community'. Sarah Coles will lead a session on ‘MAIN - Multi-Lingual Assessment Instrument for Narratives'.

The Conference promises to be exciting and informative.  Delegates will have the opportunity to participate in two workshop sessions as well as time to visit the stalls that will promote and highlight resources to help support EAL and GRT students.

If you would like to continue your studies in EAL best practice the new Supporting English as an Additional Language(SEAL) course begins later this term. If you are interested in this course please contact HTLC to book a place or email: Claire.Barker@hants.gov.uk for more information. 

We are looking forward to seeing you at our future events.


References
Language and learning loss: The evidence on children who use EAL (bell-foundation.org.uk)
Languages in lockdown: Time to think about multilingualism | LuCiD

[ Modified: Thursday, 7 October 2021, 1:21 PM ]
 
Picture of Astrid Dinneen
by Astrid Dinneen - Tuesday, 7 September 2021, 11:44 AM
Anyone in the world

By the Hampshire EMTAS Specialist Teacher Advisors 


Welcome to this new academic year. The EMTAS team is feeling refreshed after the summer holiday and looks forward to continuing their work. We’re particularly excited to support more schools this year as they work towards achieving an EAL or GRT Excellence AwardIn this blog you will find out what’s in store for 2021-22 to support your professional development as well as your award submission. You will also learn more about our Heritage Honours Award, find out about staff changes in our team and catch up with important research projects.


Network meetings 

The dates of our EAL network meetings can be found on our websiteWe will also be holding specific network meetings for Early Career Teachers, the details of which can be found on the same page of our website. The termly GRT-focused network meetings will continue to be held online this year. Like our EAL network meetings, they are free to attend for Hampshire-maintained schools. To find out when the next ones are, check the Training section of the EMTAS website.


EMTAS conference 

We are very much looking forward to the EMTAS Conference on Friday 15th October at the Holiday Inn in Winchester. It promises to be an enlightening day with Eowyn Crisfield as one of our keynote speakers. She is an acclaimed expert in languages across the curriculum and has a wealth of knowledge in this field. Sarah Coles will be sharing her research findings on ‘Pathways to bilingualism: young children’s experiences of growing up in two languages’ and Leanda Hawkins will speak of her experiences of education from the perspective of belonging to the Romany community. There will also be a selection of cross phase workshops for delegates to take part in and stalls to see some of the latest resources available to support EAL and GRT pupils in education. Everyone who signs up will receive a free set of the latest EAL Conversation Cards valued at £45. There are limited spaces so please sign up as soon as possible. For further information and online booking please see our flyer attached to this blog. 


New e-learning 

We are pleased to announce that we have new E-learning modules now available: 

- Supporting children and families from Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) backgrounds

- Developing culturally inclusive practice in Early Years settings

- The appropriate placement of learners with EAL in groups, sets and streams.

Our e-learning modules are free to access for Hampshire-maintained schools. To find out how to obtain a login, please see our Moodle.



Awa

Heritage Honours Award

The EMTAS Heritage Honours award, launched last academic year, celebrates the achievements of children from BME, EAL and GRT backgrounds at school and within the home/community. Children and young people can be nominated for an award by the school they are currently attending. More than 60 successful nominations were received last year. Reasons for nomination variously include success in heritage language examinations, practical and creative use of first language within the school environment, sharing cultural background with peers, acting as an empathetic peer buddy, success in community sporting events and excellent progress in learning EAL. Nominations are now open for this year. To find out more about how to nominate a pupil, see our Moodle


Research 

Debra Page is entering the third and final year of her PhD researching the Young Interpreter Scheme. Data collection happened online due to the pandemic and the first and second wave of data collection with 84 children across 5 schools is now complete. The third and final data collection will be in November and all the data will then be managed and analysed. In her last update, Debra shared a YI diary and additional training resource she created. She delivered this virtually with each school during their YI training session and initial feedback has been very positive. It is hoped that these extra resources will form part of the YI training in the near future. The children are excited to complete their diaries about the work that they do as a Young Interpreter. If the diary is something that you are interested in, please get in touch. We look forward to finding out results of what is learnt about the Young Interpreter Scheme. 

diary

Sarah Coles will update us on her own PhD in a separate blog very soon. Her PhD is part time and she’s just embarking on her fourth year of study. She’ll mainly be involved in data collection this year and a number of schools with children from Polish and Nepali families starting in Year R have agreed to support this. Sarah is hoping the families she and members of our Bilingual Assistant team approach will be similarly willing to be involved. 


Staffing

At the end of last term, we wished Chris Pim a happy retirement and welcomed back Astrid Dinneen following her maternity leave. As a result, we have made some changes to the geographical areas the specialist teacher team will be covering:

Sarah Coles – Winchester

Lisa Kalim – New Forest

Astrid Dinneen – Basingstoke & Deane

Jamie Earnshaw – Eastleigh, Fareham and Gosport

Claire Barker – Hart, Rushmoor and East Hants

Lynne Chinnery – Havant, Waterlooville and Isle of Wight

Helen Smith – Test Valley

Sarah, Claire and Helen will also cover GRT work across the county.

We also welcome Abi Guler to our Bilingual Assistant team. He will be working with our Turkish families. We are delighted to have also newly recruited Fiona Calder as our new Black Children's Achievement Project Assistant. 


We are all looking forward to continuing working with you. In the meantime, be sure to subscribe to the blog digest and visit our website.


[ Modified: Friday, 10 September 2021, 11:29 AM ]
 
Anyone in the world

By Hampshire EMTAS Traveller Teaching Assistant Steve Clark


The big leap from Year 6 to Year 7

First steps into secondary school can be difficult for any pupil. Secondary schools are usually much bigger environments with more pupils and staff than most primary schools. The differences are noticeable: pupils move between lessons rather than staying in the same room all day and there is a complex school layout and timetables to negotiate. Pupils for whom English is an Additional Language (EAL) and pupils from a Gypsy, Roma, Traveller heritage (GRT) find the transition challenging. Rather than making the leap into the unknown, some GRT pupils withdraw from mainstream education and opt instead for elective home education (EHE).

This year more than any other year it will take a concerted effort from EAL and GRT children, parents, carers and schools to support their transition. The Coronavirus has led to a long absence from school for most pupils and many will find adjusting to the routines of the school day and entering a new learning environment particularly challenging.

Many EAL families may have experienced high levels of anxiety about Covid-19 and isolation especially where they have not been able to go and visit relatives or, in some cases, have any contact with them at all. Some families will have suffered bereavement and their children may benefit from bereavement counselling and/or ELSA support. EMTAS can also offer first language support for schools and families, mentoring for pupils and cultural advice for staff.

Many of our GRT families are fearful of the impact of the virus on their children and their communities and may be very reluctant to allow their children to return to school for this reason. If this is the case, schools can ask for EMTAS support for staff and the GRT communities affected. 

Many GRT families are self-employed and due to the nature of their work may be experiencing high levels of anxiety due to the impact of the lockdown on their ability to continue working.  Some families may be trying to off-set this by travelling further afield to secure work.

Hampshire EMTAS is, as always, ready to support all concerned with transition. Usually, we offer a transition programme for GRT pupils and EMTAS staff visit pupils in person to support and facilitate their journey from primary school into secondary. However, this year, because of social distancing, EMTAS staff are instead offering this support via telephone and can liaise with EAL and GRT parents and carers this way to answer any questions they may have and to support them with the transition. In October, after the child has started in their secondary school, an EMTAS member of staff will arrange a follow-up visit to see them to check they are settling in.


What EAL and GRT pupils, parents and carers may want to know

Lunch systems - Many schools are cashless and operate a fingerprint recognition system to pay for lunches. It is important to stress to GRT and EAL pupils and their families that their fingerprint will not be used for any other purpose.

Mobile phones - It is important to communicate to GRT and EAL pupils, parents and carers, the school’s expectations around the use of mobile phones during the school day and to clarify how they can contact each other in exceptional circumstances.

Homework - Starting a conversation between school staff and GRT and EAL pupils, parents and carers can prove highly effective in ensuring that any potential problems with completing homework are identified early on and flexible solutions found.

Uniform and equipment - It is recommended that schools have a full and clear conversation with GRT and EAL parents and carers prior to the child starting in Year 7 about what equipment the pupil will need and what is acceptable uniform including jewellery and hairstyle. This may give school staff an opportunity to address any concerns the family may have regarding cost.

Cultural factors should be considered e.g. clarification about the provision of separate changing facilities for PE and modesty -related issues to do with PE kits etc. These are particularly relevant to Muslim students and their families.

Religious observance - Sikh boys may wear a patka (head covering) or other hair covering and may, for religious reasons, not have their hair cut; hijabs may be worn by some Muslim girls. Many Muslim pupils, especially once they are in secondary phase, will observe fasting throughout Ramadan followed by Eid, a day they may request permission to take off school for religious observance.

Attendance - Communication between GRT and EAL pupils, parents, carers and school staff is vital to ensure a good level of attendance (96% or above) is maintained. Clear guidance should be given to GRT and EAL pupils and parents on how to report any absence. Maintaining a good relationship with the GRT and EAL families will help to continue the conversation and to help identify any problems with attendance.

Art, Design & Technology, Food Tech and Science – Discussions between school and parents and carers about funding and the supply of ingredients and materials for these subjects can help avoid any potential misunderstandings or disruption to the pupil’s learning.


Ideas for schools to build confidence from Day One in September

The better prepared a pupil is for their transition, the more smoothly it will go. It is a good idea for the primary school to show pupils a timetable from a secondary setting and explain to them what it means. If the secondary school can provide a digital tour of the school this year to help ease anxieties about what the new environment looks like, this would help pupils gain a little knowledge about what to expect to see on their first day. A short film introducing key staff and the Year 7 Tutor team would allow the pupils to recognise these people more readily. 

Communication with EAL and GRT parents and carers in the next few weeks will help identify and hopefully answer any questions the child and parent may have.

Schools running the Young Interpreter Scheme or New Arrivals Ambassador Scheme will be able to guide pupils into supporting their peers’ transition into school.

Hopefully all our EAL and GRT children will transition successfully in September and settle back into the learning environment quickly, making new friends and picking up with old ones. Give them time to think and process as the language and pressures of a new setting may take time to build up their confidence and to participate.


For further advice and guidance please visit the Hampshire EMTAS website and the Guidance Library for EAL and GRT.

Also see our dedicated pages for: 

- GRT Advice and Guidance

- EAL Advice and Guidance

- Distance Learning including Covid-19 advice and guidance

For further information please contact Sarah Coles at sarah.c.coles@hants.gov.uk or the EMTAS office at emtas@hants.gov.uk. 


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[ Modified: Monday, 29 June 2020, 9:19 AM ]
 
Anyone in the world

By the Hampshire EMTAS Traveller Team


Due to current circumstances and the impact on schools of the lockdown, we have decided it would be a good idea to move our celebration of Gypsy, Roma, Traveller History Month (GRTHM) from its traditional month of June to October so no one will miss out on our planned events. 

To this end, we are putting on three roadshows across the county.  The roadshows will be in Basingstoke, Winchester and the New Forest and there will be something for everyone from talks to exhibitions to Stepping with FolkActive.  The roadshows promise to be lively, entertaining and informative and will give our audiences a chance to see how Hampshire EMTAS works with its schools and GRT communities.

The roadshows are drop-in events with talks taking place between 4pm and 5pm after which people will be invited to take part in a stepping activity.  Stepping is a traditional form of dance that was initially a type of sport for working class men in the north of England and for Travellers.  Each dance is created by the individual dancer and does not follow any set rules – it is energetic and is often described as tapping or drumming with your feet.  It requires no previous experience or expertise and when the live music is playing, it is impossible not to move your feet.  Come along and join in. 

There will also be an exhibition of the Life of Showmen displaying the rich history of Showmen in Hampshire through the decades and a display of all the entries to the a postcard competition (details below). 

These promise to be lively events with lots of interaction, music and dance so save the date! The EMTAS Gypsy Roma Traveller History Month Roadshows will take place on:

1st  October: The Discovery Centre, Winchester, 3.30 – 6.00pm

8th October: The Discovery Centre, Basingstoke, 3.30 – 6.00pm

22nd October: Applemore College, Hythe, 3.30 – 6.00pm

We hope lots of you will be able to attend a roadshow near you.  We will soon be sending out a Schools Comm with further details and we’ll be advertising the roadshows on our website as well as issuing personal invitations to all the schools, families and agencies we work with.  We look forward to welcoming you to one of these events and to getting to know you while you enjoy the exhibitions, talks and dancing. We hope to see you there!


The EMTAS GRTHM postcard competition

As part of our GRTHM celebrations, we are also holding a postcard competition.  It’s open to all GRT children and there are three categories: KS1, KS2 and KS3/4.  We are launching the competition in June and need lots of support from our schools to make this a big success.  The winning postcards are going to be printed and, in liaison with schools, sent to GRT children all over Hampshire in recognition for their improved attendance and/or attainment throughout the year.  The winners in each category will also receive a prize and both winners and runners-up will see their postcards included in a full-colour calendar, something they can share with their families and feel really proud of.  We will be in touch about the competition and how you can support your GRT children to take part in it very soon.


Meet the Hampshire EMTAS Traveller Team

The EMTAS Traveller Team consists of

Strategic Lead:

Sarah Coles (EMTAS Deputy Team Leader)

Operational Lead:             

Claire Barker (Specialist Teacher Advisor)

EMTAS GRT Officer:

Sam Wilson (Attendance, Admissions and Transport)

Traveller Teaching Assistants:

Julie Curtis with responsibility for ELSA

Steve Clark

Our work always has an education focus and comprises working in partnership with schools to support Traveller children and families.  At this time of year, we are heavily involved in transition work, supporting the move from infant to junior school for younger GRT children and from Year 6 to Year 7 for older ones.  New for 2019-20 is our GRT Excellence Award, a self-evaluation framework that can support schools to develop and embed best practice in relation to their work with GRT communities.  Also popular is our new GRT Reading Ambassador Scheme which is having a positive impact on children’s progress in reading in the pilot schools where it has been running.  We can also support with attendance, admissions and transport applications and we can provide cultural awareness training to school staff.


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[ Modified: Wednesday, 3 June 2020, 9:49 AM ]
 
Anyone in the world

By the Hampshire EMTAS Traveller Team


The objective of this article is to talk about Distance Learning for Traveller pupils and how to produce quality resources for your pupils who would normally be off travelling from April until November. However this year every teacher across the country, if not the world, has been producing good quality distance learning packs not for the few but for all their learners. This is a bonus for us as a service because it means teachers will all now know how to create Distance Learning materials. Alas this time will pass and fade from memory so to help support the creation of Distance Learning packs for GRT children in the future we have produced this easy to follow guide.

Learning at home

Home learning can cause many worries and concerns for Traveller families. The living conditions of many of the families are not conducive to learning. If a Traveller family comprises more than one child of school age all wanting to do written work or work on a tablet, computer etc. and the family live in a trailer, space can be an issue. Many Traveller families have difficulty with internet access depending on their living conditions as many sites do not have broadband or internet connectivity. The families may say they have internet because they have 3G or 4G on their phones but they don't have the ability to download and do work in a meaningful, straightforward way. It is therefore very important to offer the work in a paper format that can be collected safely from the school.

Some parents, not exclusively Traveller parents, have trouble with literacy and this can create a barrier to them being able to support their child’s learning. Some Traveller parents may not have attended school at all or may have had a shortened school experience or erratic school attendance. These factors can lead to them having poorly-developed literacy skills that prevent them from being able to act as parent teachers in the home following a school based curriculum. Some Traveller parents may say no to the packs telling schools they are managing fine. This can be borne out of fear of not being able to meet the school’s expectations. It helps to talk through with the parent what they are doing with the child at home and to look for learning opportunities in what they are comfortable with. This can be as simple as when they are out for a walk counting the cars or finding flowers and saying what letter they begin with. The children can collect stones and write letters or numbers on them to help them practise counting and letter-sounds.

Most Traveller families follow the rule of Mochadi. This is a cleanliness code that is strictly adhered to in the dwelling place whether it is a house, trailer or chalet. This code does not allow messy play with pens, pencils, glitter, glue, play dough, etc. inside so it is good to look for activities the children can do outside like scavenger hunts, making bug dens, making bee hotels. Many of the Traveller children will be getting educated in their culture during lockdown. Many will be given responsibilities around the home and work with the father. Often the children have animals to look after and girls will be taught cooking and homecraft.

Hampshire Ethnic Minority and Traveller Achievement Service (EMTAS) have created a Distance Learning page to signpost available free resources that may be useful. The EMTAS page is constantly growing and we would love to hear from you if you have made or found a brilliant resource that we can add - and we'll credit to you for submitting it.

The Traveller Times have also created a page of resources that may appeal to some of your Traveller learners and their families.

Fears and coding absences

Many Traveller families had great fears of Covid 19 before the government issued guidelines for schools and this resulted in many families removing their children from education either as an extended absence or to electively home educate them. Some Traveller families did go travelling and asked the school to use the ‘T’ code as they would be working as they travelled. The ‘T’ code can only be used for very specific circumstances and travelling to avoid Covid 19 would not be a legitimate reason to use the code. This link explains how to use the ‘T’ code accurately.

The absence coding of Traveller children who went off school before the government closure is at the discretion of the Headteacher who may wish to seek advice from their local EMTAS or Inclusion service.

The Traveller Times team recognised early on that many of their members and families had a great fear of this illness and they produced a simple factual video made by Lisa Smith, a Traveller and one of the editors of the Traveller Times, to help allay the fears of Traveller communities.

Challenges ahead

Once this is over and schools go back to some semblance of normality, the challenge of getting Traveller children to return will begin. Many families have fought battles with elders to have their children in education and now these battles will begin again. Many Traveller children who are due to transition to junior, secondary or further education may find the emotional stress and worry too much and opt instead for elective home education and work. It is vitally important to keep in contact with the Traveller parents of children in Years 2, 6 and 11 to reassure them and offer transition support. Schools should contact their local EMTAS for help and guidance with this.

Life will return to normal and our Traveller children will slowly come back into education and challenge us with their learning and sometimes their behaviour but all credit to you, when they come back through your doors – this demonstrates education is valued by our Traveller communities and that they trust you with their child; there is no greater reward than this.


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[ Modified: Monday, 4 May 2020, 9:37 AM ]
 
Anyone in the world

By Hampshire EMTAS Traveller Teaching Assistant Helen Smith

During the summer and autumn terms the EMTAS Traveller Team is always busy supporting pupils through the transition period. Historically, transition was focused on the transition from Year 6 to Year 7 and although this still remains the bulk of our work, we have now developed programmes to support Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) pupils from Year 2 – Year 3 (when a child is moving from an Infant school to a Juniors) and into Year R.

The period between Year 6 and Year 7 is the time when high numbers of GRT pupils are withdrawn to be Electively Home Educated (EHE); on average we lose about 30% of our pupils to EHE during this time. We are working hard with pupils, families and schools to reduce this number. During the spring term we meet to review the data and identify pupils that may be at risk of not successfully transferring to secondary school.  There is a variety of identifiers for such pupils, which include:

  •  no application for a secondary place made

  •  low or erratic attendance

  •  older siblings that are already EHE

  •  children whom we have previously supported who we know have reservations about secondary school

  •  SEND issues.

We then begin transition work by contacting schools that have pupils on roll who have not made secondary applications and we offer our help.  We may ask school to chase up the application and find out from parents if they need help or we may meet with school and the family to talk through any issues and barriers. Our position on school applications is always to make the application, even if you are not sure your child will be staying in school, then give it a go even if it’s just for a term.

Our transition programme is for GRT children who have secured a secondary place. It takes place during the summer term and can be delivered over a period of between 2 and 4 weeks.  It includes a follow up visit in the child’s new school in the autumn term. The aim of the programme is to encourage the children to want to start thinking more positively about secondary school and the opportunities it can give them. The programme focuses on post-16 aspirations, necessary school equipment, timetables and routines and any worries, questions and concerns. The follow up can sometimes just be a phone call to the school to check that the child has transitioned and make sure there aren’t any problems. Ideally this would then be followed by a visit to talk to the child and help with any issues they may raise.


Last year we piloted a programme to help transition from Year 2 to Year 3 where children are transferring from an infant school to a junior school, i.e. it is not aimed at children who are attending a primary school. Due to time restraints, we target this offer at children who we think may struggle to settle into their new junior school. This can be because:

  • they have already attended several schools

  • they have only recently settled into their current infant school

  • there are SEND issues

  • they are an anxious child or parent

  • they have low or erratic attendance.

The Year 2 – Year 3 programme comprises three sessions in the infant school and two sessions in the junior school. The programme centres around similarities and differences between the two schools and is aimed at reassuring the child about any worries they may have about their new setting.


In 2018-19, we piloted a transition programme for children transferring from pre-school to Year R, or into Year R having not attended a pre-school. Again, these will be children who have been identified by us, the school, pre-school or parent as needing extra help to settle into school. This may be because:

  • the child has not attended any pre-school setting

  • the parent is anxious about the child starting school

  • the attendance of siblings has been erratic or low

  • there are SEND issues

  • extra support has been recommended by an outside agency.

The bulk of the programme takes place once the child arrives in the infant school, but ideally begins with a meeting with school/pre-school and parent in the summer term to discuss any issues and help with ideas for making sure the child is school ready. The programme involves one of the EMTAS GRT persona dolls.  The doll and I visit the school during the first couple of weeks.  The children show us around their school and share some of their school activities and routines. Our visits are recorded in the doll’s journal using photos and the children’s work. The persona doll and I will then visit again in the spring and summer terms and check on the child’s progress.


The aim of the transition is to make the experience as positive as possible to help aid retention in all phases, especially secondary.  As a team, we believe the better the experience our GRT children have early in life, the more positive an influence this can have on their attitude to school and education, which can pay dividends in the secondary phase.  The majority of Year 6 GRT pupils with whom we have worked over the last 4 years are still in school and about to enter their GCSE year.  This is testimony to the dedication, flexibility and perseverance of our team, the GRT children, their families and in no small part the schools.

If you have a GRT pupil that you think would benefit from EMTAS transition support, please use the website to make a referral in the normal way, ideally by the beginning of the Summer term. Additional information pertaining to GRT support and staff training can also be found on our website.


Meet Helen Smith and persona doll Jesse at the next Basingstoke network meeting on March 23rd at Marnel Infant School. Booking essential. Further details on our website's training tab. 

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[ Modified: Friday, 13 March 2020, 11:06 AM ]