It is estimated that there are now one million EAL learners in UK schools and government research in 2013 found that teaching these students is the area that NQTs feel least equipped for.
Entitled EAL Nexus, the project is being run by the British Council and The Bell Foundation and it involves a new website hosting a database of materials designed for EAL learners. It is thought to be the first site of its kind for UK teachers and the materials follow the different school curricula of the home nations and come with teacher notes.
The project will also see a series of workshops and seminars taking place, developed in collaboration with The Bell Foundation and the National Association for Language Development in the Curriculum.
Parents and members of migrant communities are also being encouraged to sign up to the website, which includes a section for parents with information on the UK education systems and how to support their children through school in the UK.
The project is now to work with teachers and school staff in 24 pilot schools to improve understanding of the needs of EAL teaching and improve school provision for EAL learners. It is hoped this work will result in EAL teaching toolkits and modules of teacher development being produced for schools, as well as a series of workshops for teachers on best practice for educating EAL learners.
Melanie Griffin, EAL Nexus co-ordinator at the British Council, said: “With over one million EAL learners in UK schools, it is important that projects like EAL Nexus are in place to ensure these learners and their teachers are well supported.
“It is fantastic to be sharing our expertise in English language teaching to bring this programme to EAL learners and their teachers across the UK. Our hope is that in creating quality online teaching materials and providing support through the wider EAL Nexus project, teachers across the country will feel better prepared to teach EAL learners in their classrooms.
“Not only should the project allow us to make strong progress in developing the UK’s EAL sector, but it will also help ensure that EAL learners feel included within the educational setting and wider community.”
Diana Sutton, director of The Bell Foundation, which works to overcome exclusion through language education, added: “Having a one-stop-shop for EAL learners and teachers is an important step forward, making it easier for good practice to be shared between schools and communities.”
The EAL Nexus site is accessible at http://eal.britishcouncil.org/