Explore our policy recommendations for breaking down language barriers
in schools, adult education, and the criminal justice system.
Nearly half of all teachers in England are teaching pupils from diverse backgrounds, and superdiversity in schools is becoming the norm. Therefore, ensuring that student teachers are prepared to meet the needs of pupils with English as an Additional Language (EAL) as part of their initial teacher education (ITE) is essential, due to the need to ensure that their teaching practices are fully reflective of diversity, equity and inclusion.
The ITT Core Content Framework defines the minimum entitlement of all student teachers, and does not set out the full ITT curriculum. It ‘deliberately does not detail approaches specific to particular additional needs’ (2020:6), devolving responsibility to individual providers for designing appropriate curricula for their student teachers in the contexts in which they will be teaching. The framework also stipulates that student teachers ‘will continue to be assessed against the Teachers’ Standards only’ (ibid.). Of particular relevance to EAL pupils is Standard 5 of the Teachers’ Standards (DfE, 2011), which specifies that teachers must ‘have a clear understanding of the needs of all pupils, including […] those with English as an additional language’ […]; and that they must ‘be able to use and evaluate distinctive teaching approaches to engage and support them.’ (2011:11-12). It is therefore important to take this requirement into account when designing new ITE curricula, and to include content regarding approaches that are particularly impactful for teaching and assessing the learning of multilingual pupils in diverse classrooms.
The Bell Foundation has created a guidance document to support ITE programme leads and tutors as they review and redesign their organisation’s ITE curriculum in line with the DfE’s ITT Core Content Framework (DfE, 2020) with a focus on preparing student teachers to work in diverse multilingual classrooms and to meet the learning needs of their current and future EAL pupils.
The guidance offers evidence-informed content recommendations related to EAL for inclusion in ITE curricula. The content included should be considered as minimum core content that enhances the generic statements included in the ITT Core Content Framework with reference to EAL and is by no means exhaustive. ITE programme leads and tutors are encouraged to engage with it critically and to add to it where necessary or desirable to ensure that their curricula address the specific features of the contexts in which their student teachers will be working.
The guidance draws on recent research on EAL and ITE including the following research funded by The Bell Foundation and Unbound Philanthropy, ‘English as an Additional Language and Initial Teacher Education’ (Foley et al., 2018). The executive summary can be found here.
The Bell Foundation has developed evidence-informed, free to download teaching materials for ITT providers with a focus on preparing student teachers to work in diverse multilingual classrooms and to meet the learning needs of their current and future EAL pupils.