It can take an EAL learner anywhere between 5-10 years before their competence in English enables them to perform academic tasks equivalent to their English speaking peers. For this reason it is essential that their progress is tracked and monitored on a separate scale from the National Curriculum as this looks at age-related expectations.
Pupils new to English will need to have a baseline assessment so that progress can be measured. Any initial assessment should take account of pupil’s prior experience and knowledge in their home language and should therefore not just assess what they are able to do in English. Many pupils will have developed high level skills in their home language and these will be an asset when learning English.
Initial assessments include looking at the four skills areas (speaking, listening/understanding, reading and writing) as well as knowledge and ability in Maths.
The EAL Service will assess pupils once a referral has been received. Examples of materials that may be useful in assessing pupils new to English can be found here.
The English as an additional language service uses the Solihull Profile of competence. This is a framework developed by professionals in the borough and now used extensively throughout the UK. The framework covers the four areas of language and is linked to the five point scale which was introduced by the Department for Education in 2016 . There are two documents, one for primary schools (key stages 1 and 2) and one for secondary schools (key stages 3 and 4). Children in Early Years should be assessed using the EYFS profile. The Service collects and collates Proficiency in English codes at the end of each term for all pupils in schools at Key Stage 1 and up who are identified as having English as an additional language.
All pupils referred to the Service will be assessed on the framework to provide a baseline. The Service recommends that this is updated termly. Pupils in schools who have not been referred but who are at the early stages of learning English or who are a cause for concern should also be assessed and tracked using the Profile. A Proficiency in English code is usually gathered from the writing score – this is often lower than the other skills and a better measure of proficiency in English for academic purposes.
Pupils who are a cause for concern and who may have other needs may be assessed in their first language. This is done in agreement with the school and would normally involve an interpreter where the Service is unable to provide a bilingual member of staff. First language assessments often enable staff to ascertain if there is a difficulty with language per se as opposed to a difficulty with learning English; it can help to unpick the nature of possible additional needs. The EAL Service will work with other agencies and is able to use a range of tests (both standard and non-standard) to assist with the process. See our SEN/EAL page for more information.