Silver EAL Quality Mark Award for Prendergast Ladywell School

The EAL team at Prendergast Ladywell, a secondary school in Lewisham, is led by Tuba Bauhofer, a long-standing member of staff who originally joined the predecessor school (Crofton Secondary School). She knows the local community well, having held several roles in the school over the years. This was true of other colleagues I met during my visit, including the SENCO, Anna Bachurska, who had previously worked as a Learning Support Assistant and then later, as Head of EAL at the school. The professional cooperation and communication between the SEND and EAL departments is of huge benefit when staff are seeking to determine how best to support pupils who have a range of needs. Both leaders prefer the ‘helicopter’ approach to the classroom deployment, where they work with pupils learning English, those with special educational needs or disabilities, and those who are more able.

Headteacher Mr Hand explained that he was proud that more experienced and advanced bilingual learners are amongst the highest performers in the school. He notes that there are fewer complete beginners and mid-term starters at the school than previously, but nevertheless, they make excellent progress.

Following a short induction, the EAL team summarises new students’ needs and abilities, circulating a list of support strategies for mainstream teachers to use. The team supports focused language development through in-class support across the curriculum, but also though targeted withdrawal. For example, the EAL support option at KS4 concentrates on preparing students for GCSE English Language papers 1 & 2, as well as addressing other aspects of cross-curricular academic language.

The EAL team also arranges many high quality extracurricular activities. For example, five girls recently visited the House of Lords to meet Baroness Meral Hussein-Ece and Dame Floella Benjamin: Rehan Khan, author of ‘A Tudor Turk’, visited the department to discuss the creative writing process with the pupils; and BBC Africa reporter, Anne-Marie Dias Borges spoke to Year 7 pupils about the importance of having a broad language repertoire.

The last word should go to the students to whom I spoke. They were full of praise for the structured support they received. They commented on how the EAL staff enriched their school experience by providing spaces for private study encouraging reading for pleasure.

Chiaka Amadi

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