Welcome to the latest report on NALDIC’s Regional Interest Groups (RIGs), where more than 140 dedicated practitioners and professionals gathered to discuss and learn about critical topics in the world of English as an additional language (EAL). These meetings have become a crucial platform for sharing insights, exploring innovative ideas, and fostering a sense of community in the EAL space.
In the Autumn Term, we ran six engaging RIGs, each one delving into essential discussions on refugees, mental health, networking, and creative arts. NALDIC’s technical experts, Nandhaka and Lee, ensured a smooth virtual experience, while RIGs Coordinator Dianne provided unwavering support in the facilitation of the groups. By the end of 2022, an impressive 430 attendees had participated in twenty RIG meetings.
Check out upcoming RIG meetings and events: EAL Events – NALDIC.
Table of contents
- South London RIG Report
- Yorkshire and the Humber RIG Report
- East Midlands RIG Report
- North and North East London RIG Report
- North East RIG Report
- West Midlands RIG Report
- Convenor News
Making connections: networking opportunities for those working with multilingual children and families (13th October 2022, convened by Moira Brazil)
A diverse group of 33 RIG members, both new and returning, gathered to delve into the dynamic world of multilingual learners across various settings. These dedicated individuals exchanged innovative ideas and practical initiatives as part of the “Making Connections” theme.
Dr. Virginia Lam from the University of Roehampton kicked off the event with a captivating overview of the ongoing Growing Up Bilingual (GUB) project. This research investigates the cognitive and social benefits of attending complementary language schools for preserving and nurturing children’s home languages and cultures. Dr. Lam shared examples of GUB events, and you can find more information at Beginnings for bilingual bridges | BPS.
Ruth Durant, CEO of the Richmond EAL Friendship Group, captivated the audience with her presentation on language education for EAL adults. She highlighted the vital role of social inclusion and the provision of social and recreational facilities and activities. For over 20 years, the charity has been creating opportunities for social inclusion and learning for adults developing English as an additional language. Ruth’s examples demonstrated the power of forging social connections through the charity’s activities. Discover more about the Richmond EAL Friendship Group.
To conclude the session, RIG members revisited last year’s discussions on supporting newly arrived pupils from countries like Afghanistan and Ukraine. Katherine Solomon and Sheila Hopkins from the Bell Foundation presented the latest guidance on Building Vocabulary, EAL Assessment, and Planning for ‘Talk,’ showcasing invaluable “great ideas” resources for classroom practice. Learn more at News & Blog – The Bell Foundation.
Yorkshire and the Humber
31st Yorkshire and the Humber RIG: Supporting Refugees and Asylum Seekers (20th October, convened by Dianne Excell)
In this insightful meeting, 30 practitioners came together to explore support strategies for refugee and asylum-seeking students. The discussion covered a variety of topics, including the Ukrainian education system, understanding trauma, and fostering connections between EAL and ESOL.
Emily Bowerman and Mariia Donets from Refugee Education UK shared their expertise in assisting refugees from Ukraine. Mariia, an Education Welcome Project Officer, highlighted the contrast between the UK and Ukrainian education systems, emphasising that 70% of pupils are accessing Ukrainian education online due to the temporary nature of their situation. This results in an increased workload for these students. Mariia also shed light on the impact of the resettlement scheme, which has led to divided families, with only women and children in the UK, often grappling with anxiety and trauma. Emily concluded the session by outlining practical strategies teachers can employ to help address these challenges.
Dr Skander Hussain, Educational Psychologist for Rotherham MDC, delved into the psychological aspects of supporting new arrivals and unaccompanied minors. Skander began by clarifying essential terminology related to individuals’ legal status before providing an in-depth analysis of trauma from a clinical psychology standpoint. He reminded us of the potential culture shock that pupils may encounter as well as illustrating how events such as Halloween or Bonfire Night celebrations could be triggering for those with trauma.
Additionally, Skander touched upon the potential impact of psychological needs on school attainment, which can sometimes fall below expectations for refugee pupils. He emphasised that even though pupils may have shared similar experiences, their responses can differ greatly, underscoring the importance of personalised approaches. Skander then introduced a valuable tool to help children craft their own narratives: the Tree of Life narrative therapy. This creative technique allows pupils to express themselves using the drawing of a tree where they can add what is important to them on the leaves, showcase their achievements as fruit, and share their hopes for the future on the branches.
Sally Hall and Stephanie Puissegur, Learning Improvement consultants for Leeds City Council, engaged the audience by sharing their insights on supporting schools in welcoming refugees and asylum seekers, along with strategies to assist both pupils and parents. They emphasised that migration is not a new occurrence in Leeds and highlighted the importance of dispelling media stereotypes. Furthermore, they introduced famous refugee role models, recommended books featuring refugee stories, and provided a wealth of online resources, such as:
- Leeds for Learning, which offers valuable resources for supporting EAL learners in primary schools,
- The Bell Foundation‘s webinars, advice, and guidance,
- A collection of seven free short films about refugees, endorsed by human rights educators at Amnesty International.
Lastly, Declan Flanagan, ESOL teacher in Northern Ireland, discussed the links between ESOL and EAL for refugees and asylum seekers in Belfast. He emphasised the need for coordinated support for parents and children, suggesting that a unified approach could lead to more effective policies.
Good classroom practice principles to start the new school year (3rd November, convened by Caroline Bruce and Annie Kershaw)
It was a delight to witness 23 practitioners come together for the 13th RIG meeting. With classrooms across the region welcoming an increasing number of EAL learners, the timely focus of this gathering centred on classroom practices for the new academic year.
Caroline Bruce from The Bell Foundation started the discussion by sharing information about the growing diversity in East Midlands schools, with a rise in families from Ukraine, Afghanistan, and Hong Kong. She shared valuable resources such as the UKHK website and newsletter, which warmly welcome Hong Kong residents and highlight best practices for supporting their transition into new schools.
Our first guest speaker, Stuart Scott from Collaborative Learning, engaged the audience with strategies, ideas, and resources that empower teachers to plan and facilitate collaborative activities in the classroom. He emphasised the benefits of such approaches for EAL pupils.
Following this, Lizzie Mansbridge from Kingsmead School, Enfield, presented her research on the impact of grouping on the progress, attainment, behaviour, and well-being of EAL learners. She demonstrated how pupils were assessed before and after the study while discussing the challenges and advantages of avoiding ‘sets’ in certain subject areas. Lizzie’s findings revealed that the proposed approach of using mixed-ability sets led to better assessment performance, improved behaviour, and significantly boosted self-esteem for EAL learners.
To conclude the meeting, participants were directed to the Bell Foundation’s “Great Ideas” supporting documents and links, providing them with resources to further enhance their own best practices.
North and North East London
New Arrivals and Action Plans (16th November, convened by Emilia Onoszko and Jette Rayner)
The meeting commenced with 10 participants sharing their successes in their EAL practice since the last RIG. These included ideas such as breakfast and lunch clubs for storytime to expand vocabulary, ways to engage in speaking and listening activities, understanding accents, grouping students by ability, teaching presentation skills, and employing customizable games adaptable to various topics and learners.
Convenor Emilia Onoszko from Greig City Academy launched the session with an insightful presentation titled “Considerations for Supporting New Arrivals.” She began by exploring the key factors in welcoming new arrivals and presenting the pathways new EAL students may follow. Emilia delved into the support provided at each stage, from meaningful data collection to induction, transition, and integration. She emphasised the importance of utilising students’ languages and providing staff with relevant information, including the languages spoken by new students and their literacy levels. New students are assigned buddies for support both in and outside of school, and connections with families are established. Additionally, new arrivals are encouraged to participate in tailored clubs and other school-wide activities. The school also organises annual events such as the International Christmas Bake Sale and EAL End of Year Celebration.
In the second presentation, Convenor Jette Rayner from Rhodes Avenue Primary detailed the structure of a comprehensive Action Plan designed to ensure support and progression for EAL students. Jette carefully reviewed and matched her school’s chosen goals with the broader school improvement plan. She centred on methods for ensuring progress: monitoring from initial assessment; underlining the effectiveness of personalised learning; learning walks, and celebrating EAL students’ successes when all colleagues understand and follow the action plan’s importance. At Rhodes Avenue, this document remains a focal point throughout the year, ensuring EAL students make significant progress.
Regrettably, the meeting concluded with the announcement that Emilia and Jette would be stepping down after four years of service, and the North and North East London RIG would be seeking a new convenor.
Mental Health and Well-being of New Arrivals (17th November, convened by Diane Embley and Rashda Salamat)
In this dynamic blended session, 30 colleagues had the opportunity to connect face-to-face while also providing online access for those at a distance. The first guest speaker, Katherine Jessett from Northumberland EMTAS, delved into the topics of Homework clubs and well-being. She underscored the profound effect of displacement on children’s mental health and emotional well-being, highlighting the necessity for EAL learners to receive time, space, and adult support to relieve stressors and equip them with tools to self-regulate. Additionally, she emphasised the crucial role of fostering relationships with peers and staff and promoting, celebrating, and sharing their home languages within schools. Katherine’s Homework Club, comprising mixed-aged new-to-English and advanced EAL learners, fostered a sense of belonging during transitional moments and presented aspirational positive role models.
Shallu Duggal from Education North Tyneside EMTAS delved into Mental Health and Trauma by sharing a thought-provoking video titled “The Boy,” which portrayed the challenges encountered by new arrivals. Shallu outlined the signs of trauma and suggested ways schools can support learners in need. She advocated for the “Healing Classrooms” Training, which offers a valuable booklet of resources for mindfulness and self-regulation.
Isa Wilson from Newcastle City Council showcased how PowerPoint Live can support EAL learners using online Office 365. By generating a QR code, presentations could be accessed on personal devices, enabling translations into various languages to appear beneath the original text. While setting up with the QR code scanner takes some time, the benefits in supporting pupils’ understanding are substantial. Isa reported that user feedback had been positive.
Lastly, Koli Begum, a Minority Ethnic Health Development worker from North Tyneside VODA, discussed Cultural Diversity and Health. Recently appointed to consult with communities to understand health inequalities and barriers to accessing services, Koli shared her insights and experiences in this crucial area.
Creative Arts approaches to language teaching and learning from two speakers (24th November, convened by Justine Dakin)
At the 12th RIG meeting, sixteen practitioners gathered to learn and share ideas. Dr. Jane Andrews from the University of West England delved into the captivating Arts & Humanities Research Council-funded project, “Bringing Together Creative Arts and EAL Learning and Teaching.” This innovative initiative aimed to foster creative collaborations between EAL teachers and artists. Teachers participated in immersive arts workshops, discovering diverse techniques and strategies to support pupils from various linguistic and cultural backgrounds. The project championed the arts as a means to enhance inclusivity, promote multiple modalities, and celebrate cultural diversity. Schools implemented exciting projects such as multilingual announcements, films highlighting pupils’ diverse languages, and creating a welcoming multilingual banner at the school’s entrance. EAL pupils benefited from inclusive practices acknowledging their languages, cultures, and communities, fostering social inclusion and recognising their multilingual skills as strengths and assets.
Dr. Justine Dakin from REAL Learners introduced the successful primary school project, “Writing Bilingual Stories: Developing Children’s Literacy Through Home Languages.” This inspiring project engaged a group of bilingual pupils, including some newly arrived refugees. Children worked in pairs or individually to retell a familiar story, writing it first in either English or their home language before translating it. This process led to discussions about bilingual writing and facilitated exploration of various words and phrases within their stories. One Polish speaker, with nascent literacy skills in both languages, created a photographic guide for other newcomers and their parents. With the support of Justine, a multilingual assistant, and his mother, the child crafted a bilingual text to accompany his photographs. The project fostered creativity and collaboration, involving parents and family members in helping children translate their texts beyond the school setting.
The success of the RIGs is rooted in the dedication and generosity of volunteer convenors and practitioners who graciously share their skills and knowledge at no cost. Regrettably, four RIGs—Berkshire and Hampshire, Greater Manchester, Southwest, and Kent—were unable to convene during the Autumn Term due to a shortage of volunteers. Moreover, we have yet to find volunteer convenors for Cumbria and Lancashire, Oxfordshire, and South Wales. If you believe you can lend a hand, please reach out to RIGs Coordinator Dianne Excell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Exciting discussions are underway regarding potential RIGs to support practitioners in Wales and Northern Ireland in the future. In the Autumn Term, three RIG Convenors made the difficult decision to step down from their roles. North and Northeast London Convenors, who have served since 2018, feel that new responsibilities within their schools prevent them from continuing. Moira Brazil, South London Convenor since 2019, retired at the end of the Spring Term, and Krisztina Fogarasi has taken over as convenor. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to them for their unwavering dedication to sharing best practices and inspiring other practitioners to contribute.