Inspecting Provision for Children and Adult Learners Who Use English as an Additional Language

Policy briefing

This briefing covers the inspection of the provision for learners who do not have English as their first language:

  • In primary and secondary schools: English as an Additional Language (EAL);
  • In further education and skills (FES) provision: English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) for 16+ adult learners (including provision for 14–16-year-olds in colleges);
  • In prisons: general education provision for speakers of English as a Second or Additional Language (ESL), including English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) education.

Many learners who need to learn English while attending school and FES provision experience educational, social and economic disadvantage.

While the Education Inspection Framework in principle provides a good basis to inspect EAL and ESOL, the focus on this type of learner needs improvement. The proportion of learners whose first language is not English in education and training provision is high. This means that all inspectors are likely to encounter second language speakers on a regular basis. Yet most inspectors do not have the tools, knowledge and skills to evaluate the quality of EAL and ESOL provision.

Ofsted has a key role to play in ensuring that the quality of EAL and ESOL is good, that learners make good progress and thrive in education and training; and that they progress to further education and employment and are able to play an active part in society. We argue that an improved inspection focus with appropriate subject expertise will bring dividends to individuals and society.