Ethnic Minority Achievement (EMA) – Partnership teaching to develop sustainable practice for new arrivals
What is being done?
- Date: Oct 2008
- Programme: Ethnic Minority Achievement (EMA)
- Focus: Partnership teaching to develop sustainable practice for new arrivals
- Number in series: 4
- Phase: Primary
- Key stage: Key Stages 1 and 2
- Ref: 00758-2008DWO-EN-04
- Audit and planning with local authority Ethnic Minority Achievement (EMA) guidance and support.
- Quality-first teaching in mainstream classes enabling curriculum access and language development. This was embedded in staff planning.
- A system of monitoring and reviewing impact of continuing professional development for all staff.
- English as an additional language (EAL) and mainstream staff working in partnership more effectively, sharing expertise.
- Support systems such as buddies, befrienders, playground pals and trips to create shared experiences.
As the school welcomed an increasing number of pupils from Eastern Europe, many of whom were new to English, the senior management team (SMT) decided it was essential to develop a sustainable programme of support. The first step was working with the local authority EAL consultant to conduct an audit of the provision the school was currently offering. From that, a Raising Achievement Plan was developed, articulating a step-by-step process based on raising the capacity of staff to support language development, curriculum access and pastoral support of new-to-English children.
The school quickly made the decision that they couldn't let funding – or lack of it – create any barriers to the strategies they planned and how they carried them out. The goal was to create a sustainable culture within the school for pupils new to English.
The school also realised that sustainability meant that they couldn't be dependent on a 'quick fix from outside'. But they recognised the value of drawing upon the expertise offered by the local authority. This came at a time when the local authority was taking a more strategic approach to supporting schools, looking at how it could develop capacity as well as provide teaching support. This was in line with the direction the school wished to take, combining the practicalities of day-to-day support with developing the capacity of staff to work with pupils new to English. Strong links were forged between the school and the local authority EAL consultant, with the deputy head taking on the responsibility of overseeing the implementation of the plan and monitoring its impact. The school also benefited from its literacy coordinator being an Advanced Skills Teacher (AST) for EAL.
This is a school with high expectations and aspirations for its pupils and, despite the challenges being faced by the new arrivals, particularly children new to English, expectations remained high. These high expectations were centred not only on the attainments and achievements of the pupils, but also on the work of the teaching staff and senior management.
This school believes that achievement is based around access to the curriculum and participation. This was another key element in moving the school forward in supporting its new-to-English children. Any structure put in place had to be based around this principle.
The school recognised that high-quality teaching is one of the keys to achievement and that professional development was essential to ensure that all staff could support new-to-English pupils. They also recognised that part of creating sustainability was to track the impact of any training provided. The school therefore:
- identified key priorities for professional development such as language across the curriculum and speaking and listening
- ensured that all staff, teachers and teaching assistants received training
- set up work shadowing for teaching assistants and peripatetic staff as another form of professional development
- used planning as one method to monitor the impact of professional development, expecting teachers to identify key strategies, vocabulary and language structures within a lesson
- talked with pupils about their experiences as a form of monitoring.
The SMT wanted to ensure that staff were involved in the decision-making process of how additional support was allocated and delivered. They therefore consulted with class teachers in order to come up with models of support that would meet the needs of both teachers and pupils.
Key Stage 1 teachers felt that the best model was to provide additional support for newly arrived children in the mainstream classroom. This was done through:
- a level 3 teaching assistant providing in-class support for pupils new to English in Key Stage 1
- weekly meetings set up between the EAL teacher and this teaching assistant to discuss approaches to support and issues around individual children.
A more varied approach was set up in Key Stage 2 through:
- partnership teaching with the EAL teacher and a class teacher jointly planning, delivering and evaluating lessons
- partnership teaching with the EAL teacher taking the class so that the class teacher could observe how EAL learners were responding to particular teaching approaches
- time-limited, curriculum-related induction sessions
- training targeted towards developing the skills of all staff in working with pupils new to English
- stronger communication links being established between classroom teachers and EAL staff to ensure two-way communication
- EAL staff and mainstream staff attending weekly planning meetings
- EAL staff being monitored in the same way as other staff, so communicating the value and status the school ascribed to EAL staff, both school-based and peripatetic
- observations of EAL staff being carried out with the literacy coordinator, an AST for EAL
- the deputy headteacher holding half-termly meetings with EAL staff to review their targets, planning and assessments
- the EAL team developing a newsletter containing information on specific children, which they circulated to class teachers.
The school also realised that there was more to catering for new arrivals than developing children's English and ensuring access to the curriculum.
In the areas of care, guidance and support the school developed support systems. They:
- made a Polish-speaking teaching assistant more available to children and parents
- provided a buddy for new arrivals to help them out during their first few days in the school
- provided a tour of the school when the new arrivals first arrived
- provided new arrivals with a special activity to welcome them to the class on their first day
- set up a 'befrienders' scheme in Key Stage 2 where children with problems could meet with a 'befriender' and discuss their problems
- set up a 'playground pals' scheme for children in Key Stage 1 to look after any children who might be feeling lonely or upset
- looked for opportunities to bring children's experiences into school, both in the classroom and in assemblies
- created shared experiences through visits and outings.
The school recognised that it needed to develop strong partnerships with parents and look for ways to provide support for them. One of the first steps was to set up coffee mornings where parents could meet one another, but also where information about the curriculum and their children's learning could be shared.