Discovery Primary School, Peterborough, receives gold!

With twenty five languages spoken – the top four being Lithuanian, Polish, Urdu and Portuguese – Discovery Primary School has a multilingual staff team which is excellently equipped to support children and families from non-English speaking backgrounds. There are significant challenges as mobility is high. The English as an additional language (EAL) Coordinator, Asta Tapera, has recently completed her middle leadership course, focussing on narrowing the gap in maths between EAL and non-EAL. She has also been on a course on maths and visualisation.

Maths and EAL has been a strong focus this year as it had been identified as an area of weakness. Asta took the maths co-ordinator to visit the Beeches to observe maths teaching and to gain ideas for the interactive maths display which he then created at Discovery. Maths workshops have also been very successful with over forty parents, including many men, attending each session. Parents took home slides, and a pack of resource activities.

Asta may also take on Talk 4 Number, an intervention programme seen to be successful at another Peterborough primary school on her recent visit to Hampton Hargate.

There has also been a strong focus on reading for comprehension, with training for Teaching Assistants in guided reading, including pre-reading, text-highlighting, looking for clues in sentences and building vocabulary skills. Pre-teaching and post-teaching booster sessions are provided as well as a Year 4 EAL homework club. There are also certificates given out for promoting reading, parents’ phonics sessions in class and a parent and child reading café, all of which are well attended. The parent advisor also attends reading cafes and monitors and evaluates.

New members of staff are well supported with a booklet about EAL and an EAL file is prepared for each class teacher, using NASSEA assessment guidelines. Achievement For All targets are set weekly and the progress of pupils with EAL is described as ‘non-negotiable’.

The school environment is very welcoming for all. As you walk through the school, there are many displays celebrating diversity, such as Language of the Month, the European Day of Languages, Diwali, and the Commonwealth Bake-Off.

I met an impressive group of children who were language ambassadors for the school, and were proud to explain about their role in welcoming new arrivals. New children with EAL also receive induction certificates.

Currently, the staff can support parents speaking Polish, Czech, Slovak, Portuguese, Lithuanian, and Russian. Parents are very well supported and treated as partners in their children’s education, with interpreters provided where needed. New parents are shown reading records, dictionaries, uniform pictures, key phrases and are asked to complete a short questionnaire after four weeks to make sure everything is still ok. Staff meet with parents each term to discuss targets. In the Foundation Stage, parents are taught how to read with their children at a morning workshop, using books without words, and learning about how to talk about books. This practice is so well embedded that all staff are familiar with how to support parents new to English.

The general feeling in the school is that working with pupils with EAL is now so well-embedded that it is a given, with children at all levels being challenged and supported. This is borne out by the impressive progress of children with EAL at DPS, which is now very good compared with Peterborough and national statistics. The challenge is to keep all new staff informed and trained and to monitor practice across the school in order to continue to develop inclusive practice.

Sara Mclaughlin is a member of the EAL Academy’s team and runs The EAL Network for Primary teachers in the Peterborough area.  For more information about Sara visit – http://www.theealacademy.co.uk/team/sara-mclaughlin/

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