Lockdown support for pupils with English as an additional language

Written by: Pete Henshaw | Published:

Schools are being reminded that learning loss during national lockdown is exacerbated for pupils with English as an additional language (EAL).

This is because EAL pupils face both learning loss and language learning loss or regression during periods of remote education.

Charity The Bell Foundation, which works to support the education of EAL pupils, is offering advice, resources and support to schools to help lessen the impact of the lockdown.

It points to research last year from Ofsted and others after the first national lockdown which shows that some EAL pupils have struggled more than others with aspects of language and communication skills and a regression in oral fluency.

Furthermore, pupils and their parents may experience language barriers when accessing remote learning, particularly if they are new to English or have low levels of English language proficiency.

In a bid to head off any problems this time around, Diana Sutton, director of The Bell Foundation, is urging schools to be aware of the specific problems these pupils may face.

The charity has published a list of practical strategies that teachers might use. It is also offering a wealth of free resources and support online. The strategies include:

Parental communication: Consider how to involve, and communicate with, parents as they may lack the English language skills, confidence or understanding of the education system to support their child’s learning. In addition, they may experience additional barriers, for example, their working patterns, childcare responsibilities, and facilitates or space at home.

Language focus: Highlight the value of bilingualism, multilingualism, and home language maintenance. Research shows that the maintenance of the first language has been found to accelerate the process of learning a second language. To support this, let parents know that pupils can still learn the curriculum content in their first language, and that the school encourages this.

Resources: Provide parents with key information about curriculum topics and up-to-date teaching approaches.

Provide translations: Do this, if possible, by using a member of staff who shares the same language, or an interpreter to help translate key messages both verbally and in written form.

Multiple media: Use extra audio or video messages as well as written information to ensure those families who are new to English do not miss out on key messages.

Digital divide: Around 1.6 million pupils do not currently have digital access so it is important to check if learners are able to access the learning materials, equipment and technology they need.

Lessons demands: Consider the language demands made by the activities set, create talk-based activities where possible, and use visual and concrete support when setting work.

Differentiate support: Teachers are encouraged to continue to use the resources and strategies that they know work well, and to ensure that work included in home learning packs for EAL pupils is always linked to the curriculum.

Exposure: Provide opportunities for extensive exposure to spoken English through, for example, using the screen recording, audio and video recording functionality built in Microsoft PowerPoint, using Zoom or similar software, getting pupils to use the Microsoft Word Read Aloud function, which enables them to listen and read at the same time, or encourage learners to access additional online lessons and tutorials, e.g. TED talks or educational television programmes such as on the BBC.

Additional information on supporting the home learning of students who use EAL can be found on The Bell Foundation’s website, including guidance documents, blogs, webinar recordings and short guidance videos.

There is also a section on parental involvement with flyers available in the 18 most commonly used first languages in UK schools which teachers can print and share with parents.


Please view our Terms and Conditions before leaving a comment.

Change the CAPTCHA codeSpeak the CAPTCHA code
Sign up SecEd Bulletin