EAL Provision

Historical background to EAL provision in England

The start of EAL provision in England can be traced back to 1966, when Section 11 of the Local Government Act made funds available to meet the needs of people of Commonwealth origin. This was known as ‘Section 11 funding’ and was used to support the education of learners who used English as an Additional Language (EAL). In the beginning much of this support took place in separate language centres or through withdrawal of learners using EAL from mainstream classes. In 1986, a Commission for Racial Equality report into provision in Calderdale Local Education Authority found this practice to be discriminatory and this led to the closure of language units. Funding for language support was subsequently used to provide additional specialist staff to work in mainstream classrooms.

In 1999, the Ethnic Minority Achievement Grant (EMAG) replaced the Home Office Section 11 funding. This new grant was distributed to local authorities on a formula basis relating to the number of learners using EAL and the number of pupils from ‘underachieving’ minority ethnic groups, combined with a Free School Meals indicator. The grant was intended to 'Narrow achievement gaps for those minority ethnic groups who are underachieving and to meet particular needs of pupils for whom English is an additional language'. Most of the money was devolved to schools and monitored by the local authority, whilst a percentage was held back to pay for advisory teachers and consultants centrally.

In 2011, the EMA Grant was mainstreamed into the Direct Schools Grant and was no longer ring-fenced. However, local authorities were still able to retain some funding to provide services to support schools in narrowing achievement gaps for underperforming ethnic groups and meet the specific needs of learners who use EAL.

From April 2013, an 'EAL' factor limited to bilingual pupils who have been enrolled in English schools for a maximum of three years can be included in local funding formulae for schools. Under this system, there is still no accountability mechanism regarding use of funding.

For more information on funding and an analysis on local authority spending on EAL see Language Development and School Achievement: Opportunities and challenges in the education of EAL students.

For an analysis of pupil funding allocations 2021-2022, see reports from The Education Policy Institute.

EAL in the mainstream

The approach to EAL provision in England is that all teachers should plan and resource lessons suitable for learners using EAL within the class or subject curriculum. Additionally, funded provision at local level may be used to provide training and support to teachers or provide direct support to pupils in order to reduce barriers and increase access to mainstream learning. The National Curriculum for England 2014 makes it clear that all teachers are responsible for ensuring that learners using EAL make progress in line with their peers.

The Equality Act (EA) 2010 and the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED)

The EA 2010 refers to nine protected characteristics (age, disability, gender, gender reassignment, race, religion and belief, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, and sexual orientation). The EA also places a general equality duty on all public bodies, including schools. This replaces the previous race, gender and disability equality duties. The PSED requires schools to pay due regard to the need to:

  • Eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation
  • Advance equality of opportunity between persons who share a protected characteristic and those who do not
  • Foster good relations between persons who share a protected characteristic and those who do not

The Bell Foundation has commissioned several research projects in the area of EAL provision in schools in England:

Local authority provision

Prior to 2012, many local authorities provided a central support service specifically to help improve the educational outcomes for children and young people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) and Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) heritages, including those learning English as an Additional Language (EAL).

However, consolidating the EMAG into general school revenue funding, has led to most local authorities having to cease or significantly reduce their support for schools. This abolition of dedicated resourcing and specialist support means there is no longer any national oversight or provision of professional qualifications, staff development and specialist roles for teachers and other school staff working with learners who use EAL.