From education to employment

Continuing the Report on Training for Teachers in EAL to Improve Access to Training

The report that addresses the issues faced in offering English as an additional language (EAL) training for teachers and teaching assistants forms a part of the skills gap battle.

The provision of language training to improve social inclusion is laudable; however, given the emphasis being placed upon skills for the economy, the need that must be most urgently met is for sufficient training in languages to be available to both sides in education. In the first article on the subject, the background to the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) pilot programmes and the Ofsted inspection was explained. Now it is time to discover just what worked and what could be improved upon.

General Findings

The report concerns itself with the evaluation of the courses for teachers and teaching assistants separately. As has been mentioned previously, certain features were equally valid as contributory factors in all courses. One such factor was the need for experienced tutors and teachers, with the learners benefiting from experienced and knowledgeable tutors. Whilst those who had relevant classroom experience were better able to apply theory to practice, many of the tutors concerned were not suitably experienced and trained.

The indications that were highlighted by the report included the fact that experienced tutors had sufficient time to fulfil their role and kept detailed records of observations / feedback. Further, the report found that the recruitment for the course represented a wide range of the community, including good representation of mainstream and Ethnic Minority Achievement Grant (EMAG)-funded staff, many of whom were bilingual. The report notes that a successful communications strategy is vital to the course. To create successful partnerships between the affected course organisers, schools and local authorities an effective communication with schools, including pre-course briefings for students, line managers, tutors and mentors, and opportunities for regular review and evaluation are all needed.

It All Comes Down to Attitude?

The report goes on to note that the application of theory in practice was important. The best of the tasks in the programmes attempted to apply theory to classroom practice and were able to be flexible enough to take account of students” differing contexts and phases. The students also appreciated and responded to the proper provision of support and mentor figures.

The importance of ensuring the quality of delivery was also commented upon. The assurance of quality made certain that both tutors and mentors were effectively monitored, and their roles and actions were amended suitably following feedback from the learners. Classroom foundations for assignments were more effective in improving EAL provision, and the higher quality of the course materials were praised by all sides.

Jethro Marsh

Stay here for the final instalment at FE News!

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