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English as an Additional Language

We endeavour to provide well designed and accessible communications as these are an important way of involving the parents of EAL pupils in understanding and supporting their children’s learning and progress. We are also aware that whilst our parents and carers of EAL pupils will undoubtedly want to support their child’s learning they may lack the English language skills, confidence or understanding of the education system in England to do this. Therefore we try to ensure that all school communications and messages are delivered as clearly and comprehensibly as possible.

This page has been put together to give you some basic information about the education system in England and what you should expect. It will hopefully answer some of your questions and help you and your children settle quickly and happily in our school. Please also feel free to come in and ask about things – even if your understanding of English is limited, we will do our best to help you.

How does the English education system work?

Children in England start school at the beginning of the year in which they turn 5, when they enter "Reception". Before this, they may go to a pre-school or a nursery, if parents choose. At Wallace Fields Infant School & Nursery we have a nursery for children aged between 2 to 4. In the nursery and reception year children follow a nationally agreed "Foundation Stage Curriculum", which identifies what children should learn at this age.

Children stay at our school and nursery for a maximum of 5 years - up to Year 2. Years 1 and 2 are called "Key Stage One". At the end of Year 2, at age 7, children leave our infant school and go to Junior (Primary) from the age of 7 to 11 and this is called “Key Stage Two”. Thereafter they go to Secondary school, until the age of 16 or 18. This is called “Key Stage Three”.

All Primary schools in England follow a National Curriculum, which consist of "core subjects" – English, Maths and Science – and "foundation subjects" – art, music, physical education (PE), history, geography, design technology and personal, social, health and citizenship education (PSHCE), religious education (RE) and ICT. At Wallace Fields Infant School & Nursery, we have a large number of laptops, iPads and other ICT resources. All computers have internet access.

At Wallace Fields Infant School and Nursery we have a themed or topic approach, where the learning across different subjects is linked. This makes learning more meaningful and gives children more opportunities to practise skills they have learned. We greatly value the diverse backgrounds, beliefs and cultures of our children and hope that children will grow up to understand and appreciate beliefs different from their own. Children of all faiths are often able to share their practices with their classmates, which enriches the experience of everyone.

We believe that children should be actively involved in their own learning. This increases their motivation and makes learning more memorable and secure. Children are therefore encouraged to ask questions, to challenge (in a polite way!) others' opinions and to engage in discussion and debate. Children do not sit passively absorbing what the teachers say but are active partners in the learning. Conversation between pupils is encouraged as learning is consolidated when children talk about it. This philosophy is in contrast to that of some other countries where children are expected to be quiet and to learn by rote.

When will my child do tests?

Children in English schools are not as regularly tested as in some countries. A child's "level of achievement" is recorded and reported at the ages of 5, 7 and 11 in Primary schools and at the ages of 14 and 16 in Secondary schools. At the age of 5, teachers make a judgement about a child's achievement against national expectations based on classroom observation. This information is shared with parents, both verbally and in writing.

There are no other official tests but teachers make assessments of children's levels of achievement regularly in order to plan their next steps in learning.

How will I know how well my child is doing at school?

There are a number of ways that we inform you of your child's achievements and next "targets":

1. Parent/teacher consultations. Twice a year you will be invited to meet with the teacher to discuss the teacher's assessments of your child and what your child needs to do next. Appointments only last about 10 minutes but if you have concerns you wish to discuss in greater detail you can ask to see the teacher after school one day – just pop in and arrange it.

2. Annual written reports. In March you will receive a written report from the class teacher detailing how your child has achieved against the expectations for that year group. Levels of achievement are not reported but it should be clear whether your child is achieving in line with expectations for their year group. You should also be aware of how you can help your child with their next steps in learning. For Reception children the report is written in July at the end of the Early Years Foundation Stage.

What about homework?

Parents from other countries have often expressed anxiety about the lack of work sent home from school! We do expect children to continue their learning at home but with the younger children this will be daily reading and lots of conversations about incidental things at home to improve their speaking and listening skills. As children get older, they may be given maths homework, spellings and may be asked to research information for their class topic. Children often use the internet for this so if you do not have a computer at home, you may need to go to the library or come and ask if you can use the computers in school.

How can I help my child at home?

Your child will benefit if you can do any of the following:

1. Sit quietly and read to or with your child each evening.

2. Make sure you know what your child's class topic is. You can then collect some books or information so that your child can become familiar with the English vocabulary relevant to that topic alongside these words in their first language. This will enable them to feel more confident in class and able to take part in class discussions.

3. Chat about things you do, places you go, including as much English vocabulary as possible.

4. Learn some English songs or nursery rhymes – depending on the age of your child.

5. Count in English whenever you can – in the street, going upstairs, anything you see. Make sure your child is confident with number bonds or times tables if they are older.

Who can I ask for help?

Hopefully you will feel comfortable asking any member of staff for help. The class teacher can answer your questions about the work your child is doing and about homework. It is always best to see the teacher at the end of the school day as the early morning is always a busy time.

Office staff can help with any administrative problems or general advice. They can tell you dates of events and school holidays or give you addresses or phone numbers for contacts. They can also assist with uniform queries.

Hopefully this information will be useful to you and help you to understand how our education system may be different from the one you are used to. Please do not hesitate to come in and ask for extra explanation. We want you and your children to be happy and successful at Wallace Fields Infant School & Nursery!

Please click here for short, easy to understand guides for parents of children with English as an additional language, available in the 19 most commonly used first languages in UK schools. They provide guidance for parents on how to get involved in school life and to help their child to learn.