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EAL Policy

EAL Policy

(English as an Additional Language)

Scoil Mhuire, Tullamore




In Scoil Mhuire we strive for an inclusive school environment, which reflects values and affirms linguistic, ethnic and cultural diversity. It is the aim of this policy to promote and facilitate the integration of all children into this school. As of September 30th 2014, 45% of the children on the current roll of 375 are international pupils mainly from Eastern Europe and the continents of Asia, Africa and Americas. The following countries are represented in our school: Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Ukraine,  Slovakia, Greece, Nigeria, South Africa, Sudan, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Philippines, China, Russia, Syria and Brazil.


This document has evolved from previous policy and practice in EAL in this school. Areas for development have been identified through consultation with the Principal and staff. We will continue to meet the demands of the newcomer children from other countries and will endeavour for more involvement for parents of such pupils in the coming year.



In the past seven years our mainstream classes have become increasingly diverse in terms of the cultural and linguistic backgrounds of children attending. For many children the language of instruction is not the language, which the child uses, in the home environment. This has led to a need to consider and meet the learning needs of these children. This has created in the school a need to focus on what the learning needs of these pupils are and on how to address them.



All children should be enabled to access all of the subject areas in the Primary School Curriculum. The child for whom English is an additional language should have access to appropriate support structures and resources, which will enable him to engage to his fullest potential with the curriculum. In setting out this policy we hope to provide guidelines for the teachers and the school, for those pupils in the classrooms for whom English is an additional language. It will enable us to support the learning of these children and allow them to participate to a fuller extent in the curriculum.



Scoil Mhuire is commited to creating an inclusive school environment, to promoting parental involvement, and to providing equality of curriculum access. Pupils are encouraged and facilitated to maintain a connection with their own culture and language through curricular activities and displays.



The principal aim for Scoil Mhuire in introducing the policy is:

  • To provide support for those pupils whose mother tongue is not English
  • To build on students’ linguistic and cultural identities in order to foster their confidence and motivation
  • To integrate the pupil as quickly as possible into all mainstream learning and activities of the school.
  • To recognise that these pupils have a large contribution to make to the life of this school also.



The policy is addressed under the following headings

·       Role of the language support teacher

·       Collaboration between the language support teacher and the class teacher

·       Organisation of language support

·       Identification of pupils requiring language support

·       Assessment of language proficiency

·       Programme planning

·       Recording and monitoring of pupils’ progress

·       Communication with parents

·       Individual teachers’ planning and reporting



The primary responsibility of the language support teacher is to promote the pupil’s development of English language proficiency so that he/she can gradually gain access to the curriculum, ultimately achieving the same educational opportunities as English-speaking peers. It is our intention that the roles and responsibilities of the EAL support teacher will be clearly defined and understood by all.


In collaboration with parents and mainstream class teachers the EAL support teacher will

  • Identify pupils requiring additional language support
  • Assess pupils’ proficiency in English using the assessment materials and class teachers’ observations and records.
  • Devise appropriate language programmes
  • Deliver the programmes and record and monitor pupils’ progress


It is our policy that the EAL teacher will share her expertise with the mainstream class teachers and advise parents on how to support the development of the students’ English language proficiency.



There will be collaborative planning between the class teacher and the language support teacher. Purposeful liaison between class teacher and language teacher about forthcoming themes, units, etc. will make it possible for the child to gain access, even in part, to what is planned for the class. It is arranged that this liaison time will occur during monthly cluster meetings which are part of the Croke Park hours.






The objectives of such planning are to

  • Ensure that the newly arrived pupil can understand and use the basic language of the classroom.
  • Equip the pupil with knowledge of the rules and procedures of the school so that he does not unwittingly infringe them.
  • Help to build the confidence and self-esteem of the pupil who may feel different, excluded and less able than those around him.
  • To allow information to be passed about how the pupil is reacting in class, coping with classroom language, interacting with peers etc..
  • To prepare the students for upcoming topics eg. maths by giving them the required language before class teacher begins.
  • To help the senior students who have had their two years support to cope with the academic language of subjects like history and geography by withdrawing pupils on occasions and /or providing class teachers with simplified texts such as the Irish History EAL lessons prepared by Rosemary Ryan.




Strategies which may be used by mainstream teachers of EAL students


  • Team up a new student, if possible, with another student from the home country.
  • Ensure students have dictionaries and encourage and support use of same.
  • Allow students an opportunity to write some pieces, creative or factual, in their own language.
  • Encourage students to create topic vocabulary lists, personal dictionaries…
  • Encourage use of full sentences. (all students)
  • Use ‘Think, Pair, Share’ when getting feedback from class. Also barrier games  in English.
  • Use simplified versions of history and geography classes such as those from the site http://irishhistoryeallessons.com 
  • Where teacher feels its appropriate allow students to research /study history, geography and science in own language on the computer before teacher teaches the class.
  • In geography, home countries of our international students have been prioritised as those to be studied. (See geog.policy)
  • When introducing a class use lots of oral language, engaging the pupil, modelling the language and if possible using visual aids. At the end of class differentiate activities for the EAL student.
  • Make sure EAL teacher is aware of upcoming new topics so as to prepare students beforehand.
  • Allow EAL students an opportunity to talk about their home country and make sure to highlight their special occasions such as the Chinese New Year.







With regard to newcomer pupils our standard procedures apply. (see enrolment policy)


  • The EAL teacher will have opportunity for early collaboration with class teacher and parents to gain information and to identify what assistance is needed.
  • After a newcomer’s arrival from another school, the EAL teacher will check records and if necessary contact the former principal/EAL teacher to ascertain child’s levels of performance and any pertinent background knowledge of pupil.




In Scoil Mhuire it is our policy

  • To combine both models of support in our organisation of language support ie pupils being withdrawn from class coupled with in-class support/team teaching.
  • That the models of support organised will be based on the needs of EAL pupils for whom English is an additional language.
  • That information relayed between teachers about forthcoming themes and units of work will allow opportunity for collaborative teaching.
  • To recognise and celebrate the cultures of students and to draw on the international children’s experiences and traditions. (See our Multi-Cultural Policy )



Identification of pupils requiring language support and assessment of the language proficiency of pupils for whom English is an additional language


On arrival at the school, a  newcomer’s support will be based on any information available relating to the child’s prior learning experiences, including language and literacy learning. Initial contact will be with the child’s parents and also with the previous school’s EAL teacher in the case of a student transferring from another school.


Achieving an accurate assessment of a pupil shortly after arrival is sometimes problematic. It is our policy to allow a ‘settling down’ period before attempting this. During this period the teacher makes an informal assessment of the child’s English Language capabilities and competencies. Following this the teacher recommends, if necessary, further screening, which is conducted by the EAL teacher. From here support is organised.



  • Initial interview assessment for new pupil
  • Review of records/test results from previous school
  • First feedback from class teacher shortly after arrival of newcomer
  • Feedback from class teacher on progress of language after ‘settling down’ period
  • When established that student requires support, the most appropriate period for the child’s class each day is identified taking into account the age, class, and English language proficiency of the pupil.
  • A period of months is allowed to elapse before any formal assessments are carried out.

Note: The first two above do not apply in the case of Junior Infants.




The curriculum framework for language support is based entirely on the language needs of the primary curriculum. These are specified as the English Language Proficiency benchmarks for non-English speaking pupils at primary level. They consist of thirteen Units of Work which represent the strands of the primary curriculum:


  1. Myself
  2. Our School
  3. Food and Clothes
  4. Colours, Shapes and Opposites
  5. People who help us
  6. Weather
  7. Transport and travel
  8. Seasons, holidays and festivals
  9. The local and wider community
  10. Time
  11. People and places in other areas
  12. Animals and Plants
  13. Caring for my locality



Each unit is described at three levels



Lowest Level



For pupils entering with no English, this represents the first learning targets

Pupils progress into this level

When pupils are able to carry out the activities described in this level, without any help, they should be capable of full integration into the mainstream classroom.




The tests in the kit are based on IILT’s English Language Proficiency Benchmarks and assess pupil progress through the 3 levels of A1 Waystage, A2 Breakthrough and B1 Threshold. When a pupil has achieved level B1 in all language skills i.e. the receptive language skills of listening and reading and the productive skills of spoken interaction, spoken production and writing then he has achieved the minimum proficiency to access the curriculum in the mainstream classroom.


In Scoil Mhuire it is our policy to use the PSAK as a tool

  • To determine the initial language proficiency of each pupil and
  • To evaluate how well pupils are progressing with their language skills in English.


The tests will help us to

  • Establish a pupil’s level of English. (Generally administered late in Term 2 but in the case of a student arriving from another school with no test results available it is administered after an appropriate settling in period.)
  • Monitor progress over time in language support
  • Identify the point at which a pupil no longer requires additional language support
  • Seek additional support beyond the two year period for pupils who have not reached level B1 in all language skills by including results of PSAK in application.


Test is administered yearly and copies of test materials and results are kept in each pupils file.



It is our policy that newcomer pupils will be excluded from the test if in the view of the school principal, their level of English is such that attempting such a test would be inappropriate.


Exemptions can be granted in Irish for those children who just arrive in this country and are entering a senior class having no English. However, in Scoil Mhuire it is our policy to allow the child in as far as possible to participate in Irish class and to enable and facilitate him/her in learning Irish if he/she so wishes. (see policy on Irish exemptions)



  • In Scoil Mhuire we will use a collaborative approach between class teacher and language support teacher when communicating with parents whose mother tongue is not English.
  • We recommend that parents, if possible, bring along an English speaking translator.
  • Our text a parent messaging service also gives us the option of communicating in Polish/Lithuanian (when a translator is available).



Recording and monitoring of pupil’s progress

·       As per circular 0015/2009 it is the policy in Scoil Mhuire that all documentation in relation to the adminstration of PSAK tests will be retained by the school for audit /inspection purposes.

·       Each child receiving support has an individual folder for all test materials and results and other relevant documents eg Parental Consent Form.

·       As is the case for every other student in the school there is an individual folder for documents including the registration form, report booklet, individual progress card, etc. which is passed from class teacher to class teacher and is filed away on the child’s departure from the school. When EALsupport is ended the EAL student’s records are put into this folder.

  • Within the EAL group each pupil has an individual file of his/her work.




  • There is an agreed template for fortnightly planning and an agreement to plan language support programs twice yearly.




2009 - 2011  EAL in-service training was attended by the Principal, Language support teacher and others.


2009 – Seminar Day - provided an overview of language acquisition and effective EAL teaching. An opportunity to explore the English Language Proficiency Benchmarks in relation to Listening and Speaking and to define and illustrate assessment in the context of EAL was also provided. The Principal attended this course.


2010 – Module in Laois Education Centre on Administrating the PSAK Test.


2012 – Module in Laois Education Centre on Testing and on EAL in the Mainstream Classroom.


We continue to upgrade our professional development in this area as and when courses become available.




Language materials and resources include:


‘Intercultural Education in the Primary School. Guidelines for Schools’. Available from NCCA. 2006

‘Up and Away. A resource book for English language support in primary schools’. Available from IILT.

‘Toolkit for Diversity in the Primary School’. Available from ILLT.

Primary School Assessment Kit. Department of Education & Science/IILT 2007

Early Language Learners – Basic Vocabulary Building

Jump Aboard – English Lang. Series.

Tempo – English Lang. Series for senior students

Numerous Grammar Books

Key Word Series

CDs, posters, flash cards, card games etc…























Ms. M. Conway has had particular responsibility for co-ordinating this policy, which was worked on by the EAL team and other members of staff.



The operation of the new procedures will be reviewed at the end of the year as per planning processes for this school, and if necessary, amended.



Ratification and Communication


Ratification by Board of Management


It was approved by the Board of Management on ______________________.






Reviewed and amended as necessary in March 2014


Next review  - March 2016