Tags: Curriculum Manager | English as an additional language | SEN – Special Educational Needs | SENCO | Teaching & Learning Coordinator | Teaching and Learning

Too many schools are not providing bilingual students with enough of the right support to help them succeed in their learning, according to the findings of a new report from Ofsted.

While many bilingual students were able to demonstrate good understanding of learning in practical work in the classroom, they experienced many difficulties in expressing themselves in written English. Curriculum managers need to be aware of this to ensure that the extent of the problem is not being masked for teaching staff.

Given one in 10 students have English as an additional language, with 300 different languages being spoken by pupils across London schools, and 200 by young people throughout the rest of the country, this is an issue that cannot be ignored.

Could do better Two out of three schools are failing to fully understand the barrier to success that the complex language used in exams is causing for bilingual pupils. To be successful, these students need to be given opportunities to develop predictive, analytical and lateral thinking skills, say the inspectors. Only one-fifth of subject teachers in the schools and colleges inspected used inclusive teaching and learning strategies that took account of the language and literacy needs of these students, indicating that curriculum managers need to be doing more to ensure all subject staff are being inclusive in their approach.

Other areas where schools were found to be negligent included not analysing students’ linguistic backgrounds or the impact bilingualism had on their academic achievement. Schools that did do this were then able to provide appropriate resources to help these students to achieve.

In too many schools, the use of the EAL or language support teacher was ineffective. Also, the transfer of information on students’ language and literacy profiles was poor, which meant that pupils would have to undergo further linguistic screening when transferring at 16. Subject teachers should also be doing more to make use of these language profiles to inform their teaching strategies to ensure they are providing for the specific needs of these students.

Good practice The report includes a number of examples of good practice, which will give curriculum managers ideas of strategies that might be successful for their own bilingual students. Some of these are listed in the box right.

Download the report Raising the achievement of bilingual learners – background information via: www.ofsted.gov.uk.

This article first appeared in Curriculum Management Update – Dec 2005

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