Edinburgh University

EAL in Initial Teacher Education

Project Aim

To improve the educational attainment of EAL learners through researching best practice in Initial Teacher Education (ITE) and developing and piloting resources with trainee educators with the long-term aim of them being adopted by education providers.

Project Partners

This project, conducted by the universities of Edinburgh and Leeds, was funded by The Bell Foundation and Unbound Philanthropy.

The University of Edinburgh – Dr Yvonne Foley, Head of Institute for Education, Teaching and Leadership (ETL) and Lecturer in Language Education undertook the research. Dr Foley teaches on a range of programmes including PGDE Secondary, MSc Education: Language – Theory, Practice and Literacy and MSc TESOL. She also co-directs the Centre of Education for Racial Equality (CERES).

The University of Leeds – Dr Jean Conteh, Senior Lecturer in Primary Education at Leeds University's School of Education, worked alongside Dr Yvonne Foley on this project. Dr Conteh worked as a teacher educator on PGCE Primary, BA QTS and MA courses for over 20 years in West Yorkshire and developed the MA in EAL and Education at the University of Leeds, designed for teachers and other professionals working in multilingual contexts.

Unbound Philanthropy is a private grant making foundation dedicated to ensuring that migrants, refugees, and their families are treated with respect and dignity; are able to contribute fully in their new communities; and can ultimately thrive in a society that is comfortable with the diversity and opportunity that immigration brings.

About the Project

With the number of EAL learners in UK schools steadily increasing, most teachers will work with children with EAL at some point in their careers. As children with EAL develop their English language skills at the same time as their curriculum subject knowledge teachers need to be aware of how this parallel learning is best supported. Despite this, learning about how to best teach EAL learners is not currently a mandatory component in all Initial Teacher Education.

To improve the ITE provision on EAL The Bell Foundation, Unbound Philanthropy and Edinburgh University delivered a project over two and half years with the following objectives:

  • Researching best practice in Initial Teacher Education (ITE) in the UK and abroad. This includes tracking current teacher trainees throughout their training and for their first 1-2 years of practice, and interviews with teacher training experts.
  • Disseminating the findings to key decision makers and stakeholders.
  • Evaluating the impact of the project.

Research and university partners