Lessons to be learnt – How much trust should we give EAL TAs?

Lessons to be learnt How much trust do we give EAL TAs?

After observing some planning and teacher training in London last week the following occurred to me not as way of criticism but more as reflective practice and moving learning in the classroom along.

Clearly we should not give any teacher or TA (Teaching Assistant) 100% trust until we have assured ourselves that they are giving 100% correct instruction. As no teacher is a super teacher i.e.  never needing support, mentoring or guidance then why should we give EAL TAs (English as a second language Teaching Assistants) this trust and change policies to suit them?
Don’t  get me wrong I think TA’s and EAL TA’s in particular are great but we should not implicitly trust them to guide our youngsters in the ETHOS of the school, the teaching of academic concepts and language and assessment without having an overview of their abilities and skills ourselves as senior managers and governors.
I watched a situation recently where a group of excellent teachers were planning and talking about the use of technology available to support maths teaching. They were thinking really creatively about how they could teach in their classrooms (and not looking at a withdrawal group) a mathematical concept that the rest of the year were  learning. For me it was brilliant they were marrying their skills with technology to save time for them when planning and delivering, but increasing the children’s learning ability whilst making it interesting.

All went well until the TA that supports them became part of the discussion and within no time suddenly the TA had convinced them the group needed to be withdrawn and that it could take time for the children to learn it. What struck me most as an observer was that I had been in that situation many times but could see now that the TA  was steering our teaching. Today seeing it this way made me wonder what made these excellent practitioners take another persons word and run with it?

Why didn’t they question or try out their theory and review it if it didn’t work? They had built a translation requirement in, their practice was excellent, their topic was interesting, their own personal understanding of the concept was excellent and yet they let someone without the same or better credentials influence them and their decisions.

Something worth pondering on.

bilingual students with proficiency in both mother tongue and English outperformed students who were proficient in only one of either mother tongue or English, even when the bilingual students came from less-resourced schools

An interesting report about bilingualism in South Africa. Here are the highlights.

However, “multilingualism as a pervasive feature of the South African identity is something yet to be realised and, although learners are expected to be able to use English as the official language of learning, many are excluded from it”,

“According to the Caps [new curriculum] document, the first additional language is used for certain communicative functions in a society, meaning it is merely a medium of learning and teaching in education,” he said. The home language, on the other hand, is a tool of cultural preservation and articulation.

Ultimately, South Africa should transform through encouraging bilingualism in all levels and spheres of society, Dampier said. “If we are to proclaim a truly multilingual South African identity, we must stop viewing English as a tool for communication in the global village, business and education,” he said. It should rather be seen as an essential part of South African identity.

The Gauteng strategy aims to improve reading and writing and to change teacher practice. But, said Botha, “we have had a plethora of policies and curricula, and yet reading and writing remain a problem”.

She identified three factors that impede progress: the morale of teachers; the lack of teaching and learning programmes for them; and the new curriculum

http://mg.co.za/article/2013-03-22-tongue-tied-on-language-policy

Welsh children should all have a chance at bilingualism

Further to my post last week I see this press report from Wales Online again about ESTYN’s findings and the writer supports my belief that we should encourage bilingualism but the policy and strategy for ensuring this including the training of teachers with the level of Welsh needed to be more fluent in English-speaking Welsh schools.

As a parent I for one was pleased that Welsh schools were embraced and that I had the choice of sending my child to a Welsh-speaking school even though English was our main family language. Just as important for my other family members was the choice not to send their child to a  Welsh school but to and English school that taught Welsh. I am sure this is still a really good compromise for most of the Welsh people.

This is just food for thought unless everyone just speaks Welsh in Wales then dual language and the balance between the two must always be measured against the needs of the children and society and not a group that wishes just to promote the language.  Whilst there is a place for this they can alienate if they try to impose their wish. My family members are mainly happy that they speak English and have no wish for their children to learn Welsh apart from an awareness of it and an acceptance of bilingualism.

The report finishes on these notes to which I totally agree.

Whatever action the minister decides to take on the basis of the findings, he  needs to ensure that the excellent work done by his Government doesn’t slip  between the cracks.

 

The Welsh-Medium Education Strategy is a case in point, as are the powers in  the School Standards and Organisation Bill. At long last, the framework is in  place to hold local authorities to account in terms of their Welsh education  strategies – so please, let’s not abandon ship now.

 

For those still young enough to soak it up, to those of us a little more  advanced in our years, including all school staff, the support needs to be in  place to give everybody the opportunity to grasp bilingualism with both  hands.

Read more: Wales Online http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/education-news/2013/01/31/all-must-have-chanceto-grasp-bilingualism-91466-32713956/#ixzz2JdY5Kj5I

 

 

138,000 speak no English – census UK

Following on from the last blog it seems that the question of movement and more children arriving in classrooms with another language and little or no English is going to be an upward trend.  Todays census information has ben revealed and suggests:

The number of Polish-born people living in England and Wales has risen by almost 900% since the last census and they now make up 1% of the population – more than Irish-born residents.

Pete Stokes, census statistical design manager for the Office of National Statistics. says most of the Polish migrants tend to be younger, and more prepared to move for work.

“Polish migrants are driven by economics and they are going everywhere. People from Poland are in every local authority in the country, they are not clustering,” he said.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-20713380

Furthermore the statistics show that:

The number of people living in England and Wales who could not speak any English was 138,000, latest figures from the 2011 census show.

After English, the second most reported main language was Polish, with 546,000 speakers, followed by Punjabi and Urdu.

Some 4 million – or 8% – reported speaking a different main language other than English or Welsh.

Of those with a main language other than English,

1.7 million could speak  English very well,

1.6 million could speak English well, and

726,000 could speak English, however not well. The remaining 138,000 could not speak English at all.

On the plus side there are lots of people and probably teachers arriving with Polish as their first language so maybe we should look at a curriculum which promotes Polish as an MFL and not French? On the negative side schools need to look at how they communicate with parents, children and community to engage them in schooling otherwise our stats as a world leader in education will keep going down and then how they ensure the curriculum is taught and academic language achieved in order that they can partake of formal examinations and receive a grade/number relevant to their true potential.  A hard one but something we must look at, at National and local level to make sure we are not failing our children.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-21259401

Finally when I first started teaching I remember people would say there were geographic areas which attracted new arrivals from overseas again this is borne out by the census as is my recent blogs that more and more schools are now witnessing challenging learning requirements to make sure all the pupils reach their potential.

The greatest numerical change has however been in London. In 2001, almost two million people in the capital were born abroad. Today it is almost three million. If anyone doubted that London was now a world city, rather than just the capital of the UK, the figures say different.

Only 44% of people in London now describe themselves as white British. In the east London borough of Newham, fewer than a fifth of the population described themselves so.

Four out of every 10 people in London in 2011 were foreign-born – up from three in 10 in 2001.

Overall, four London boroughs – Newham, Brent, Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea are now home to a majority who were born outside of the UK. Three other parts of the capital are not far off.

LEAST BORN ABROAD

  • Blaenau Gwent 1,500 (2.2%)
  • Redcar and Cleveland 3,000 (2.2%)
  • Staffordshire Moorlands 2,200 (2.2%)
  • Knowsley 3,400 2.3%
  • Caerphilly 3,400 2.3%

MOST BORN ABROAD

  • Brent 171,000 (55%)
  • Newham 165,000 (54%)
  • Westminster 117,000 (53%)
  • Kensington and Chelsea 82,000 (52%)

The history of migration was once the story of cities: We had very distinct communities in specific places – an African-Caribbean community in London or Birmingham, for instance, and Indian or East African Asian people in Leicester.

Large historic communities remain – but there is also greater geographic spread among newcomers. For instance, some 90% of the Poles in the UK are spread across England and Wales in community after community.

So overall, increasing change, rapid change and increasing diversity.

Today, almost 10,000 people born abroad call Boston home – 3,000 of them from Poland, more than any other local authority outside of the South East.

We will need to create teaching resources using all the ICT and non-ICT resources we have available to make sure that these children grow up as world or global citizens, available for work in more than one country, yet achieving at the best level they can regardless of language/s.  It is our duty to make sure through our unwillingness to change or change our practice that we hold these new world citizens back

I have a constant change of new arrivals with limited or no English.

Last week I was asked this proverbial question.  It comes up time and again and is increasing as children and society becomes more mobile schools who have had few or non EAL learners are now experiencing a different type of school day.

I left the question for open discussion during the training so that everyone could support the question. 

What came out was a lot of common sense and also positive affirmation that they are not alone. Many schools now find this a termly discussion and those with children from the travelling children experience it more.

Advice ranged from remembering that:

  1. We are teachers and every child that comes into our classroom has the right to an education (not always easy, but we must do our best to achieve this even with limited resources)
  2. You need to assess what they know and move from there otherwise they could present behavioural challenges
  3. When meeting the parent/ ask where they last went to school – if in the same country you maybe able to get some previous records even if limited it will support you a little more in finding resources that match the child’s ability to move them forward.
  4. When talking to parents create an atmosphere that says I am caring and am not prying re. e.g. previous records but I want to help your child. Some do respond.
  5. Invite the parents in, some teachers report creating ICT workshops for parents to meet together and allowed them to email relatives in their previous country or county. One teacher loved sewing so encouraged a sewing and natter group it really improved the parents perception of the school, the teacher has proper time to do some sewing that she could use with the children, the parents English improved and little molehills of problems were discussed and so mountains were reported less and less as the group gelled. It was agreed that if you choose to set up a club starting with something you are interested in then it will work.
  6. Where groups are running well and the people are secure you may pick up titbits that actually when shared help in the school or in your classroom.

If you have any further ideas please feel free to share them with us.

 

 

Children in Wales are making progress in developing their Welsh Language skills

A report out today says that at Foundation stage the children in Wales are acquiring Welsh language skills but the focus now needs to be on improving reading and writing skills.

The report says that

 In the best schools, teachers are highly skilled, passionate and plan fun and stimulating activities that engage and excite the children, but in a minority of schools and settings staff are not devoting enough direct teaching time to developing the Welsh language and there are gaps in practitioners’ knowledge and skills that are inhibiting the children’s learning and development.

This is a difficult one if the teacher’s do not speak Welsh fluently then the school will be unable to move further forward without either employing more natural Welsh speakers or up skilling the teachers level of Welsh knowledge. This leads me to wonder about EAL teaching how often do we as teachers/inspectors/observers assume the support assistant has the skill set but they also need up skilling not only in English but in their home language as well? ….  Just as valid is the next question that follows should we ensure we are up skilling these practitioners to support our children to get the best education?     Just an observation open for your ideas and comments.

For the full report see http://www.estyn.gov.uk/english/news/news/children-in-wales-are-making-progress-in-developing-their-welsh-language-skills-in-the-foundation-phase/ or the whole piece below.

Children in Wales are making progress in acquiring Welsh language skills, but more needs to be done to continue the upward trend in their reading and writing skills, according to Estyn, the education and training inspectorate for Wales.
In a report published today, Welsh Language Development in the Foundation Phase, the inspectorate found that in the majority of English-medium schools most children are making good progress in speaking and listening to Welsh in the Foundation Phase, but their reading and writing skills are less well developed.
Ann Keane, the inspectorate’s Chief Inspector said,

“Welsh Language is one of the seven Areas of Learning in the Foundation Phase Framework for Children’s Learning.
During the last two years, we have seen progress being made in Welsh Language Development in the majority of schools and settings. Children are enjoying learning the language of Wales in innovative and fun ways.
In the best schools, teachers are highly skilled, passionate and plan fun and stimulating activities that engage and excite the children, but in a minority of schools and settings staff are not devoting enough direct teaching time to developing the Welsh language and there are gaps in practitioners’ knowledge and skills that are inhibiting the children’s learning and development.”

The inspectorate also found that children’s progress in Welsh Language Development is a concern in over a third of English-medium non-maintained settings. In these settings, children lack confidence in using Welsh outside short whole-group sessions such as registration periods or singing sessions and they do not use the Welsh language in their play or learning without prompts from adults.
Ann Keane continues,

“Schools and settings need to review, evaluate and plan engaging and effective ways for children to speak, read and write Welsh across all areas of learning.
In the best schools, teachers use real life experiences for children to use their Welsh language skills such as making shopping lists or writing party invitations. In these instances, children are highly engaged and are making good progress in writing Welsh.”

The inspectorate outlines a number of recommendations for schools and settings, local authorities and the Welsh Government, to address the issues highlighted within the report.
For example, schools and settings should evaluate planning to make sure that there are enough opportunities for children to use the Welsh language in other areas of learning and outdoor activities and monitor and evaluate how well children are doing in developing their Welsh language skills. In addition, local authorities need to be providing better access to Welsh Language support and training for practitioners as well as sharing good practice.
Ann Keane concludes,

“Every child in Wales has the right to access the best quality Welsh Language education. This report provides a number of best practice case studies illustrating how schools have successfully developed children’s skills in Welsh. I would encourage all practitioners to read this report and use the case studies to assess their own practice and develop new ways of improving the provision of Welsh Language Development.”

Supporting language acquisition through Literacy

These are a few ideas for teaching learners who are learning English and have to read for meaning.

Before reading a book give the children the words needed to understand the important parts of the text. Where appropriate allow the child to revert back to prior language via internet machine translators to access their prior learning.  Give them the time needed to answer allowing them to process in their mind.

Their process could include reading it in English, reverting back to previous language understanding what is meant in prior language and then finding the words to explain this in their first language and then back into English.  All this can take time so try not to get too impatient as they practice. Think about when you try to translate in a language you know, what process do you go through?

By allowing this to happen it develops the pupils minds and they have a clear understanding of what the written word is conveying.  In turn this allows the child to develop a secure understanding of the text and characters.

When the child falters allow them to read a sentence and then encourage them to read it again this time more fluently to help them practice and develop their fluency. Keep a regular check on each child’s comprehension to ensure they are fully understanding the new words. Where possible put them into context so that when the child next sees the same letter formation they feel confident at reading it aloud.

Then ask each child in a the group to read part of the story.  Question them to ensure understanding and also check their fluency but importantly make it a secure environment where they can try out new sound sensations.

When questioning develop their sentence level via a game e.g. put their hand in a  bag and pull out a word related to the new text they are reading.

  1. Ask them to find a word e.g. beach
  2. Read out the word
  3. Then ask them to create a sentence e.g. I went to the beach
  4. and finally extend it by asking them what they did e.g. I went to the beach and swam in the water.
  5. Review and repeat the sentence to ensure concrete understanding.
  6. Above all make it enjoyable.

ESTYN – Good practice bilingualism

Team teaching and the pivotal role of the Welsh co-ordinator to implement the clear shared vision has ensured a school in Aberystwyth has developed bilingual practice according to ESTYN.

In 2012, as a result of prioritising bilingualism in the Foundation Phase…the school can now offer pupils a realistic choice of bilingual secondary education as they enter key stage 3 and parents realise the benefits of their children being bilingual in our community.

link to the original report : http://www.estyn.gov.uk/english/docViewer/257739.3/welsh-second-language-comes-first/?navmap=33,53,158,

Ysgol Plascrug is situated in the town of Aberystwyth which lies on the coast of Ceredigion. Approximately three-quarters of the pupils are white British while a quarter of pupils are from a wide range of ethnic backgrounds, originating from 38 different countries. Less than 1% of the pupils come from homes where Welsh is the main language. Thirty-five per cent of pupils live in disadvantaged areas and approximately 12% are entitled to Free School meals.

English is the main medium of teaching. Nearly all pupils learn Welsh as a second language. For many minority ethnic pupils, Welsh is a third or even fourth language for them to acquire. The school’s provision and comprehensive professional development programme for all staff in the development of Welsh is judged as sector leading. As a result, pupils’ standards in Welsh second language are deemed excellent.

The school has a firm, clear vision to prepare pupils to become inclusive members of the bilingual society of Wales and nurture pride in the language, heritage and culture of our country. The introduction of the Foundation Phase curriculum also highlighted the need to improve pupils’ bilingual skills at a very early age.

Description of nature of strategy or activity:

This vision is shared with all staff and over recent years has become a high priority in the school improvement plan. In order to fulfill the vision of creating fully bilingual pupils in a natural Welsh ethos, the school is committed to offering excellent provision to its pupils and exceptional opportunities for staff to improve their professional skills in Welsh language provision.

As part of the school’s strategy for raising standards in Welsh, the school improvement plan gives particular emphasis to the continuing professional development of staff.

The Athrawes Fro service provides effective support for Welsh language development on a weekly basis. It complements a team-teaching approach and offers helpful guidance on planning and resources. This allows the school to implement a ‘target group’ teaching approach at key stage 2.

The Welsh coordinator has a pivotal role in planning and integrating the teaching of Welsh.

The governing body recognises the benefits of releasing this member of staff to model good teaching approaches, monitor planning, provision and standards, and provide suitable resources and appropriate guidance and support to colleagues. The enthusiasm and passion of the coordinator is evident as Welsh is increasingly becoming the everyday informal language of the school.

In recent years, the school has focused upon developing bilingualism in the Foundation Phase. Welsh is now used as a medium of teaching for 40% of the timetable. As this progresses throughout the school, there is a direct impact on standards in Welsh and at key stage 2, pupils are able to access more subjects through the medium of Welsh. For example, physical education, art, design and technology and music can now be taught through the medium of Welsh.
In 2012, as a result of prioritising bilingualism in the Foundation Phase, 85% of pupils achieved Outcome 5+ in Welsh second language.
The school can now offer pupils a realistic choice of bilingual secondary education as they enter key stage 3 and parents realise the benefits of their children being bilingual in our community.

Suffolk: Judge left frustrated as translator’s absence delays justice

Is this fair to the victim? is this fair to companies that could do a better job? Is this fair to the judge?  When will the government intervene?

A JUDGE has expressed his frustration with a court interpreter system after a hearing had to be adjourned when a translator failed to attend a Suffolk court.

Ipswich Crown Court judge David Goodin said he was “astounded” at the non-attendance of a Bengali interpreter who had been booked by the court to act as translator for a 27-year-old man accused of attempting to rape a woman in an alleyway in Newmarket in August.

“Astonishingly and disgracefully for justice, no interpreter has appeared and in these circumstances we can’t make any progress with the case today,” said the judge. “This is yet another example of interpreters failing to appear.”

Judge Goodin was forced to adjourn the plea and direction hearing until today after court staff were unable to ascertain the whereabouts of the translator.

The case is the latest example of problems courts around the country have had in getting interpreters since Applied Language Solutions took over a Government contract in January.

Earlier this year the Ministry of Justice accepted there had been problems with the court interpreter system in the first few weeks of the contract but claimed the situation had improved.

Before Ipswich Crown Court yesterday was Jakir Hussain, of Bahram Close, Newmarket, who is accused of attempting to rape a 24-year-old woman in an alleyway between the High Street and Rowley Drive in August.

http://www.eadt.co.uk/news/suffolk_judge_left_frustrated_as_translator_s_absence_delays_justice_1_1734842