The intensive programme Tudor Primary has put in place has transformed the English language skills of a significant number of its new EAL learners.
Tudor Primary is a school in Southall in west London. It has a particular need to focus on English-language teaching: every year, the school welcomes around 55 new international arrivals who are new to English, arriving at varying points throughout the year. Overall, the school population speaks around 12 different languages – for many learners, English will be their third language, as they’ve spent time in schools in intermediate countries before settling in the UK.
The new students who arrive have often had disrupted schooling. Many have no literacy skills in their first language and limited literacy support at home. In the Early Years stage, as the school’s 2018 OFSTED report states: “almost all children speak English as an additional language and are not proficient in either English or their home language when they start school.” The challenges are evident.
In January 2016, on the recommendation of an EAL consultant, the leadership team of Tudor Primary decided to use the Learning Village to support new EAL learners. They drew up an intensive support programme, in a project running for a total of 18 weeks.
Let’s take a look at two of the pupils who participated in the programme.
Pupil N, aged 9, came from India, where she had been at school for two years. Her spoken Punjabi seemed developed, but she was not literate in the language. Her English was very limited and she struggled to engage in lessons, showing poor concentration.
Following participation in the programme, improvements were evident almost immediately. After six weeks of support, N could speak in full sentences to her class teacher, compared with just two or three words previously. She was able to write simple sentences and to follow basic instructions in English. Perhaps most importantly for N, she had much more confidence when speaking in English to her peers.
Over the course of the intensive programme, N’s reading and comprehension age rose by 6 months. Her phonics score increased from 9/40 to 25/40 and her high frequency word spelling score from 89/158 to 137/158.
Another pupil at the school, H, began the intensive programme when he was 10. His mother tongue was also Punjabi: he was fluent in this (including in reading and writing). He was understandably frustrated on arrival in England, because he couldn’t understand English and couldn’t access his class work. He frequently walked out of class.
H participated in the programme for a total of 12 weeks. Again, rapid improvements were made in sentence construction, grammar and confidence. Over the 12 weeks, his reading age jumped from 7 years, 1 month to 8 years, 2 months. His comprehension age rose from 6 years, 11 months to 8 years, 1 month. His high frequency word spelling score increased from 135/158 to 158/158 and his phonics score from 19/40 to 38/40.
The Learning Village transforms English-language teaching in schools – and it transforms the lives of children like N and H who participate in the programme.
“H is now able to speak confidently with adults and other children in English and has been getting involved in after-school clubs, making friends and [is] generally happy. His writing and grammar have improved.”
– Ragini Patel, HLTA, Tudor Primary