New report published: English as an Additional Language and Initial Teacher Education

The Centre for Education for Racial Equality (CERES) at the University of Edinburgh, The Bell Foundation and Unbound Philanthropy have today published an executive summary of the report ‘English as an Additional Language and Initial Teacher Education.

The Centre for Education for Racial Equality (CERES) at the University of Edinburgh, The Bell Foundation and Unbound Philanthropy have today published an executive summary of the report ‘English as an Additional Language and Initial Teacher Education’¹.  This research was undertaken to develop an understanding of how, and to what extent, English as an Additional Language (EAL) is taught in Initial Teacher Education (ITE) programmes.  The research surveyed student teachers at nine sites, encompassing different routes into teaching qualifications, different types of institutions and different English regions.

Teachers’ Standards (2012)² state that it is the responsibility of all teachers, whatever their subject, to ‘adapt their teaching to the strengths and needs of all pupils including those with English as an Additional Language’. The report found that over three quarters (75.9%) of respondents, who were in the late stage of their training, identified class teachers of subjects other than English as having a large responsibility to support EAL learners.  However, it also identified that at the same time around a fifth of student educators still had little confidence in their ability to support EAL learners and 13% felt they still had very little or no understanding of the needs of EAL learners.

The report provides a solution through adopting a ‘dual’ approach to developing EAL practice within teacher education programmes³. One element is to provide a number of sessions which would give a grounding in knowledge and strategies. Then the bulk of input and the requirements placed on students for reflection and action would then be ‘infused’ throughout individual subjects, e.g., drama, mathematics, and across all the core concerns of a teacher education programme, such as diverse classrooms, feedback, assessment, group work, etc. Such a ‘permeation’ of EAL throughout a teacher education programme would ensure that EAL is given a central place where the focus is on making all lessons accessible.

Dr Yvonne Foley, one of the report authors, highlights one of the key findings of this research: “It is important to view Initial Teacher Education as only the first stage in a career-long process of professional development and enhancement of practice.  Rather than viewing EAL as simply a specialised area of expertise the accent could be on assisting all teachers to make lessons more accessible to the multilingual, multicultural classes that they will encounter in many English schools.”

Diana Sutton, Director, The Bell Foundation said, “As there are now over 1.5 million EAL learners in English state funded schools (18% of the school population), it is likely that the majority of teachers will, at some point in their career, be teaching in a multilingual, multicultural school.  Therefore, there is a need not only for teacher educators in universities and training providers to be adequately prepared to guide student teachers to meet the needs of EAL pupils but also for this preparation to be extended to teachers within schools who have key mentoring and training responsibilities.”

The next stage will be the publication of research-informed professional development resources designed to extend the knowledge base of both teacher educators working in Initial Teacher Education settings and their student teachers in relation to meeting the language and literacy needs of pupils with EAL. These resources aim to:

  • Sensitise teacher educators to the experiences that pupils learning EAL often face in school contexts, where deficit views of them as language learners may limit their opportunities and potential for achievement
  • Enable teacher educators to re-think the language and literacy needs of EAL learners as issues of diversity and as a mainstream concern, and reframe their own practices accordingly
  • Equip teacher educators to prepare student teachers for meeting the needs of learners in linguistically and culturally diverse classrooms

These new resources will complement the Foundation’s existing tools (EAL Assessment Framework and Support Strategies for Schools) and resources (EAL Nexus).

On 27 June 2019 a webinar, hosted by Dr Yvonne Foley, CERES, and Dr Jean Conteh, University of Leeds, will examine the report findings. To sign up for updates on the EAL Programme, including details of forthcoming webinars, please complete the Contact Us form.


Notes to Editors

  1. Foley, Y., 2018, English as an Additional Language and Initial Teacher Education, University of Edinburgh
  2. Department for Education, 2012, Teachers’ Standards: guidance for school leaders, school staff and governing bodies
  3. Anderson, et al., 2016, p.183, How are we training our mainstream teachers to meet the needs of EAL learners? The case of two University Schools of Education in Scotland

About The Bell Foundation

The Bell Foundation is a charity which aims to overcome exclusion through language education by working with partners on innovation, research, training and practical interventions. Through generating and applying evidence, we aim to change practice, policy and systems for children, adults and communities with English as an Additional Language in the UK.

The EAL Programme aims to improve the educational outcomes of children with English as an Additional Language in the UK to benefit the individual child and society as a whole. The Foundation works in partnership with a range of organisations across the education system, to provide training and resources in order to build capacity, develop and evaluate models of good practice, and provide thought leadership.

Media enquiries regarding this announcement should be directed to Julia Shervington, Communications Manager,  or 01223 275503

About the Centre for Education for Racial Equality (CERES)

CERES is an interdisciplinary research Centre for the study of ‘race’, ethnicity, languages, culture and migration.  Associates and partners of CERES draw their conceptual base from critical social justice theories and approaches.  While respecting individual forms of prejudice, Centre members focus their research on the cultural and institutional process which impact on the life-changes of marginalized individuals and groups.

CERES’s main objective is to contribute the processes that enable people to be treated with respect, fulfil their potential and have equitable experiences by:

  • Progressing and embedding issues of social justice, rights and anti-discriminatory practice in society and its institutions.
  • Working with children, families and communities to contribute towards participation and self-emancipation.

About Unbound Philanthropy

Unbound Philanthropy is an independent private grant-making foundation that works to ensure that migrants and refugees are treated with respect and engage with their new communities. We support pragmatic, innovative, and responsive approaches to immigration and immigrant integration in the United States and United Kingdom.