User blog: Astrid Dinneen
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.
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.
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.
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
By Hampshire EMTAS Bilingual Assistant Eva Molea
In Diary of an EAL Mum, Eva Molea shares the ups and downs of her experience bringing up her daughter, Alice, in the UK. In this instalment, Eva tries to understand ability grouping in secondary school settings.
Imagine it was July,
and you were sitting in the garden on a sunny afternoon, with your cup of tea
and a lovely book, engrossed in your reading. Everything was great, and you were
looking forward to an idle couple of hours until you had to taxi your child to
their afterschool club. Hold on to this dream as long as you can…
My dream couple of hours vanished as I straightened up on my chair and tried to make sense of what Alice was telling me. It seemed that, from Year 8 onwards, the school would be grouping children according to their abilities, and that some subjects would be bundled together. Therefore, if a child happened to be brilliant in one subject, but not so shiny in the other one, they would be put in the group (= set) of the less shiny subject.
My first reaction was: This is crazy! One of us must have not understood correctly. Check again.
My second reaction was: This is unfair and penalising – with all the self-confidence and self-esteem consequences, especially after the pandemic – whereas the children should be praised for their abilities and efforts.
I tried to think of the information in the school prospectus, of all the things that my friends with older children at the same school had told me, looked at the school policies but could not find an answer, so I decided to write to the school.
I blamed poor Alice because “she certainly had misunderstood what she had been told and it would not be fair to penalise her in Spanish because of her results in Maths”. Spanish and Maths sounded like a strange matching.
Anyway, less than 2 hours later I received a phone call from the Head of Maths (!) who had kindly made time to talk to me about my email. He explained that for the first time, the following academic year, the school would be trying a different type of subject association which saw Maths with MFL, and English with Science. He also explained that to be in the highest set, Alice would have needed high marks at the last tests. Before calling me, he had discussed Alice’s attainment with the Head of MFL, who had confirmed her being an able linguist, which is often the case with bilingual children. Even so, she might have gone down a set because of her attainment in Maths. My understanding was that there were also some timetabling issues involved.
I was very confused. Like many EAL parents, I had been educated in a different system, where children are taught in mixed abilities groups from Year 1 to Year 13, classes are up to 30 children, every child has favourite subjects or is confident in some areas more than in others, and children learn from each other, and from each other’s mistakes as well. Therefore, I was not prepared for this kind of grouping, and wished I had known before, as it would have given us the chance to put in place some support for Alice so that she could feel more confident with her Maths.
I did ask why parents, especially the EAL ones, were not informed about the grouping system and it seemed that nobody had ever raised the issue. So far. The lovely gentlemen said that he would discuss with the SLT how to communicate more clearly with parents.
Needless to say, I was none the wiser after this conversation, because even if I could in part understand the school’s reasons, I still felt that the children were not being treated fairly.
A lot of questions sprang to my mind: would Alice be able to move from one set to the other if her attainment improved? And would she be able to move from one set to another during the academic year or would she need to wait to be in Year 9 to be in the higher set? Would moving up in Maths automatically mean that she would move up in Spanish too? And what if she moved down? And what if she wasn’t appropriately challenged in a lower set?
At this point, my curiosity had been ignited, so I did a little research about different types of grouping in secondary school.
I looked at the EMTAS Position Statement on the placement of EAL learners, which clearly explains that the language barrier might not allow students to demonstrate their full knowledge or abilities and, funnily enough, Maths is the only subject in which Alice still thinks in Italian.
The position statement highlights that EAL learners might understands ideas or concepts in first language, including those which are more abstract and complex, and be confidently able to demonstrate this understanding in their first language. However, when asked to demonstrate this understanding in English, they might lack the necessary language of instruction to fully understand the task they are being asked to complete. Equally, they might not have a sufficient command of English vocabulary or language structures to be able to convey their understanding to school staff or peers.
According to the Position Statement, a thorough EAL assessment would be needed to find out the knowledge and ability of a child in first language and it would be good to discuss any decisions about grouping/setting/streaming with the learner and their parents/carers, who might not be familiar with the UK education system and how decisions on grouping are taken.
I did further research on setting and streaming and the outcome will be part of an new piece of work EMTAS is doing on EAL Parents FAQ.
Fortunately, a few days after my conversation with the Head of Maths, I received an email saying that Alice had done really well in her last Maths test and, therefore, she would be placed in the highest sets in both subjects. I was very pleased for her. She was safe for this year but would have to work very hard in Maths to remain in the highest set. Obviously, I set Dad on a mission to find the best maths revision guides and exercise books, so that Alice could have a little extra practice every now and then, and kindly asked him to patiently instil his love for Maths in our daughter (after all he is an engineer, offspring of a Maths teacher). Patiently being the key word here, I can see a Maths tutor coming our way. 😉