Analysing teachers’ understanding of and use of assessment for pupils with English as an additional language
Numbers of pupils with English as an additional language (EAL) in schools have risen year on year since 2006 so that 20% of children in primary school have EAL and 16% of those in secondary school. This rise in pupils with a need to learn English has been concurrent with a reduction in funding for EAL at Local Authority level which has made provision uneven and support for teachers who need to develop their skills for teaching EAL learners patchy. The Department for Education (DfE) recently introduced a set of proficiency scales for measuring the English language and literacy development of EAL learners and schools must report to the DfE annually on their EAL pupils’ English proficiency as part of schools census data. This mixed picture means that teachers are using a national assessment scale but with varying levels of support for and understanding of their purpose. Furthermore, the scales were introduced with no guidance for their implementation and with no clear picture of how the data related to them are to be used either nationally or locally. Historically the assessment of EAL learners has been mixed; some schools were using local authority designed measures while others would use only the assessment criteria realed to the National Curriculum which is written for monolingual learners of English. To date there is no research tracking the use of either the DfE proficiency scales as an assessment tool, or of schools’ use of other assessment scales. There is a need to examine to what extent teachers understand how to measure English language proficency and to explore with them how they use assessments of English proficiency to inform targetted approaches to the teaching of EAL learners. This project is an exciting opportunity to analyse the enactment of new intended policy for EAL and to create an evidence-base that can potentially impact the profession’s response to EAL as a teaching and learning issue.
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Applicants to this project would need prior experience of working with teachers in school and, ideally, prior experience of/interest in children with EAL. Applicants would also be inclined towards either a qualitative or a mixed methods approach to data collection and analysis.
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