Findings 1 what are the leadership challenges in a

This preview shows page 6 - 8 out of 17 pages.

Findings (1) What are the leadership challenges in a school that has refugees, asylum seekers and migrants? UK Local education authorities In the context of primary schools, learning English is dominated by the literacy hour where the whole class participates in language-related activities including phonic skills. We observed that a teaching assistant was asked to work intensively with a group of students who needed additional English language support. There were instances of students being withdrawn from the class for extra help outside the classroom. We did not come across any mainstream class teacher who was bilingual. One Year Two teacher had spent six years teaching English to EAL learners and felt confident to share her worksheets and lesson plans with us. Teachers did not feel that professional development for language support was very high on the school’s agenda. They were nevertheless expected to Language Support for Immigrant Children 169
keep themselves informed of the latest developments in the field. Reduced funding also had an impact on the resources available to teachers. In two schools where there were 40% EAL learners, a language support teacher was provided to each school. We observed that these teachers designed their own teaching materials for language support. Where previously language teachers may have gone to the local multicultural centre, this resource for social and cultural interaction with other teachers in similar situations had disappeared. In terms of leadership, we found that the responsibility for looking after the day- to-day linguistic needs of EAL students was mostly delegated by the principal to the Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO). This implied that EAL lear- ners’ needs were seen not as an asset but as requiring special needs help. Attitudes of the headteachers and the SENCOs were influenced by policy changes. The dis- mantling of language specific Section Eleven funding was blamed for the unsatis- factory realities facing teachers in state-funded schools. One head teacher was supportive of language learning, but she lamented the fact that her school was not succeeding in keeping language teachers for long because of the rising house prices in the south of England in 2003 and 2004. Given the low teacher salaries, she felt that well-qualified and experienced teachers moved out of the area within two years, making it extremely difficult for the school to feel stable and plan ahead. Community leadership Two out of three schools were located near a mosque, where there was occasional provision for extra help with homework for students. Students went there mainly to learn Arabic for religious instruction. They were also able to communicate with each other in their first language (Punjabi / Sylhetti) in a pedagogical setting. This was something they were not encouraged to do at their normal school. We were told by the language support teacher that this type of instruction was either done on a voluntary basis or the local

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture