New Arrivals & EAL
At St James’s we recognise, welcome and celebrate linguistic and cultural diversity. We welcome the enrichment that linguistic and cultural diversity brings to our school community. We aim to include all pupils and parents by respecting diversity and reflecting it in our school environment, curriculum, learning resources and partnership with parents.
Pupils with English as an Additional Language form one of our largest groups within the school. Nearly a third of children are registered as speaking another language than English at home. (Integris March 2021)
Many of our children are bilingual or multilingual- speaking often more than one language at home. There are a wide variety of languages spoken by our St. James’s families such as: Albanian/Shqip, Arabic, Cantonese), Czech, Farsi/Persian, Filipino, French, German, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Konkani, Lithuanian, Malayalam, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Sinhala, Slovak, Spanish, Swahili, Teso/Ateso, , Ukranian. (Integris March 2021).
What is EAL?
The Government defines EAL learners as:
‘A pupil is recorded to have English as an additional language if they are exposed to a language at home that is known or believed to be other than English. This measure is not a measure of English language proficiency or a good proxy for recent immigration.’ (DfE Schools, Pupils and their Characteristics July 2020)
EAL learners are a very diverse group. It includes anyone who has been exposed to a language other than English during early childhood and continues to be exposed to this language in the home or in the community.
As well as difference in the language levels and use of language of the various groups of EAL learners, there is also huge variation in terms of a range of other factors, such as social class and economic status, educational background, national, ethnic and cultural background, knowledge and experience of the UK, etc.
The differences between the experiences of bilingual learners who were born and brought up in the UK to those who are from other countries are also a highly diverse group.
The terms ‘bilingual’ and ‘multilingual’ are often used to refer to those children who in their daily lives operate in more than one language; the term does not suggest equal competence or fluency in these languages.
Provision for New Arrivals
During an initial meeting between the head teacher and the parents a start date is agreed. Following the initial meeting, the family and school prepare for the induction process. Once the class teacher is informed of the start date the pupil will complete a ‘Pupil Passport’.
Those that join St. James’s from overseas are provided with a ‘Pupil Passport’ so the teacher and their peers can get to know them better. This useful pupil centred working tool is suitable for those children in Early Years and Primary settings. The resource is used to outline a pupil's key strengths, needs and the strategies and key adjustments to teaching that are needed every day.
On the child’s first day, they will be welcomed by our New Arrival Lead. The New Arrival Lead will give them a brief tour of the school, answer questions in relation to routines and show the child to their new classroom. The class teacher or New Arrival Lead will identify other pupils who speak the new arrivals first language to communicate routines and support in welcoming the child to the class. All children who are new to the school are assigned a class buddy who supports them whilst they settle into school. A ‘buddy’ is a child who will work alongside any new arrivals ensuring that they have a learning partner within the classroom environment and a friend to sit and play with at break and lunch time.
The pupil will be provided with useful resources e.g. map of school, zones of regulation chart, dual language dictionary, visual timetable, communication fan, notebook for vocabulary, Maths word book and dual language ‘phrases for school’ booklet.
Proficiency in English
Research shows that social language can take up to 2 years to acquire but academic language can take between 5 to 10 years.
An assessment is made of the pupil’s skills in reading, writing, speaking and listening in English, their mathematical attainment and their Computing skills. If the pupil is literate in their first language, a sample of writing in their first language will be obtained.
“The development of listening and speaking skills is fundamental in pupil progress to aid communication, thinking and writing. The rate of progress in listening and speaking may differ from reading and writing. Research shows that social language can take up to 2 years to acquire but academic language can take between 5 to 10 years, with some pupils never attaining age appropriate levels of academic language proficiency”.
Assessing Proficiency in English for Pupils with EAL, Hounslow Language Service
EAL pupils share many common characteristics with pupils whose first language is English. Many of their learning needs are similar to those of other children learning in our school.
Enrichment for New Arrivals
Enrichment gives children the opportunity to try new and varied activities that may not fit into the curriculum, but that develop character, resilience and motivation, and encourage them to pursue wider goals.
As a Catholic school, we are part of a multi-cultural society and a world where the ability to speak a foreign language is a highly valued skill. At St James’s, we strive to give all pupils the opportunity to learn another language and at the same time gain a better understanding of the diversity of our world.
There are a wide range of enrichment opportunities within the school for new arrivals to take part in. There are after school language clubs which many children take part in such as Spanish club and Polish club. The school is currently in the process of organising a Cantonese club for many new arrivals from Hong Kong to meet and speak in their first language.