EAL: Our Calls for Change and the Evidence

With an increasing number of children speaking English as an Additional Language (EAL), schools and teachers need to be better equipped for the realities of their multilingual classrooms, so that all pupils have the opportunity to achieve their full potential.

The context

  • Over one in five children in state-funded schools in England speak English as an Additional Language (EAL) – 1.77 million pupils.
  • This number has more than tripled since 2000 and multilingual classrooms are now the norm in most schools.
  • There is a vacuum of policy designed to integrate EAL learners. This has been accompanied by a removal of systems and support previously available, leaving an expertise gap. 
  • Teachers tell us that they don’t feel prepared or supported to teach in them. Only 37% of Early Career Teachers reported that their teacher training prepared them well for teaching in multilingual classrooms.
  • The ability to speak English well has the greatest impact on EAL children’s attainment. Our research shows proficiency in English for this group explains between four and six times as much variation in achievement as gender, free school meals and ethnicity combined.
  • The research also shows an attainment gap for some EAL pupils, with those who are new to English, arrive late into the school system, or are from certain language groups at particular risk of low attainment.

Our calls for change

Our latest policy briefings

My experience was my teacher made me feel good... they were helping me with catching up with stuff.

EAL learners

Since 2012, we have seen the decimation of support services resulting in a loss of expertise in the sector. With many schools reporting increases in learners arriving as refugees, key changes are needed to ensure that schools are equipped for the realities of the classroom.

Diana Sutton, Director

Teacher in an orange jacket stood in front of a board and clock speaking to a class of six children seated at a desk.

Relevant blogs

The research evidence