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Our Approach

#931 The Inclusivity of EAL families within our School Community. – St Margaret’s Primary School Ipswich

What did we do?

As a Learning behaviour lead, I have undertaken the comprehensive training programme based on the Educational Endowment Foundation guidance and the 5 pillars of ‘Learning Behaviour’ framework. These sessions included Metacognition, Social and Emotional Learning, improving behaviour within schools, parental engagement, putting evidence to work and process evaluation and impact evaluation.

I then discussed with key leaders within the school what our identified barriers to accessing learning would be. We discussed behaviour of individual children and targeted groups such as specific EAL groups who perhaps were not engaging as much as we would have hoped and these were identified.

I used the appropriate evidence and observation methods to gain a holistic picture of what the school demographic looked like before any changes were implemented. I knew early on that the pillar of learning most appropriate to this case study would be the parental engagement learning pillar and guidance.

I then wrote a securing Engagement Action Plan, this outlined how the school would support the engagement of this group of children. This plan “unlocked” an inclusion grant that we could use to provide funding and resources for these children/groups. This was then sent to my Project lead and the plan was redrafted so that feedback was acted upon from the Ipswich Opportunity Area.

It was then time to start the action phase of the project, during this time I was made a key person for the specific children identified, I would hold meetings with relevant members of staff to create a plan of action that I could act upon. The school employed a Romanian Translator to build a bond with our Roma parents who seemed to be one of our areas that we wanted to improve. It was important that this bond was consistent and regular from the same individuals each time.

It then became clear that communication due to the language barrier seemed to be the most prevalent factor in these parents not engaging. From then on, all communication via school was translated into Romanian in the format of phone calls, translated letters and text messages. It suddenly became clear that cultural expectations were different and so it was important to establish ground rules so that both the school and the parents understood the expectations. An example of this would be that the children would not attend school and would not have a reason, chasing the parents to find the reasons meant that the parents became more open and communicated issues with the school more, meaning that we could access the appropriate help for them.

We then discussed with senior leaders’ important days in the cultural calendar, this meant there was opportunities for children and parents to feel included and valued within our school community. For example, within Roma culture, Mother’s Day, Easter Sunday and Gypsy, Roma, Traveller history month are all important celebrations that need to be acknowledged within school and differ from the English calendar which we did not know originally.

It had been such an important aspect within our school for developing this area fully that it was essential for Senior leaders to undertake EAL training. Within this, we developed our admission process to make it easier and a smoother transition for our parents and children and enabled us as a school to gain relevant information for key staff such as teachers, inclusion and pastoral team and the office staff who were made aware of any issues that could affect their communication or attendance.

We are continually aiming to reduce this barrier and we have now set up coffee mornings that include stay and play for children under 4 to highlight the importance of education from an early age. It also enables parents to learn English in a safe space and offers the opportunity for parents to discuss any concerns they may have, both within school and at home. We have listened to the children and set up a club for them to play afterschool, this allows traveller families to gain early years development that they may have missed due to not being able to access toys or books.

We have made parents evening’s accessible with the use of a translator, this allows parents to be more involved with their children’s learning.

We have made staff more aware of cultural differences between different communities meaning that more staff can pick up on issues as they arise and they can be resolved quicker. We have also employed an EAL coordinator who is within school full time and can promote best practice within EAL communities and strengthen the relationship between parents, school, and the children.

“Thank you so much for all you do for us, we are moving house soon but we are never moving schools, we love St Margaret’s”

“I love school because they can help with everything, they always have time to listen to me.”

“I love that the school have time to help us, I’ve never been to parents evening because I can’t understand or read and write, but now I can start to help my children.”

“I feel valued and accepted at this school, at my old school I hated it.”

Summary of impact

The expectations of our EAL families have improved.

Staff are more confident in around asking questions and dealing with situations that involve EAL families. They have more strategies in dealing with unexpected or unfamiliar situations.

EAL families have better communication with the school, this has led to improved attendance and less unauthorised absences. EAL families will share their culture with us at school, children are to feel proud of their roots, they do not shy away from discussing their culture with peers and they know who to come to when they need support for themselves or their family.

Transition process for new arrivals is much smoother, children seem more settled within school quicker.

Steps taken

• Identified the problem

• Selecting relevant cohort of pupils including families.

• Selecting appropriate interventions that would work for our barriers within the school environment.

• Planning how we would go about delivering interventions/communication.

• Planning how to measure success – observations of children and families, attendance of families to events.

• Looking forward to the long term, how can we improve on this again.

What would we do differently

We learnt that improvement would sometimes be small but not to give up, it takes a long time and lots of effort to build a strong bond but once the families and children are on board, they are so valued within our school community.

We learnt that being open and honest with parents and children enabled all families to be on the same page. They were much more comfortable in being included when they fully understood what they needed to do.


£5000 grant for resources that we need

Cost to release LBL for 2 hours each day over the whole year. 10 hours per week

Access to laptop and internet.

School Mobile phone and calling credit to contact parents

See how others have implemented this Big Idea

Sensory Circuits - St Marys Catholic Primary Ipswich

Supporting Behaviour and SEMH to reintegrate into the classroom - Grange Primary School

Identifying Emotions and Managing Self-Regulation - St Joseph's Catholic Primary

Maths Interventions for Inclusion and SEND - The Willows Primary

Ready to Learn - The Beeches Primary

Philosophy Sessions - Harwich Community Primary School & Nursery

Supporting anxiety in children and parents - Spring Meadow Primary School

Securing Engagement Through SEL - Clifford Road Primary

Securing Engagement - Spring Meadow Primary

The Learning Behaviour Lead role - Ravenswood Primary School

Putting EEF "Learning Behaviours" guidance into action - Halifax Primary School

Securing Engagement - Alton Park Junior School

Removing the literacy barrier to learning - Clacton County High School

Wellbeing Workshops - Westbourne Academy

1-1 Support to Improve Engagement and Grades - One Sixth Form

Improving Behaviour with Projection Education - Trimley St Martin Primary School

Establishing a nurture space - The DEN at Trimley St Martin Primary School

EAL Parental engagement at Northgate High School

Being a Learning Behaviour Lead - Ipswich Academy

Improving Handwriting - Clacton Coastal Academy

Reading and Phonics at Dale Hall

"Club Aspirations" improving self esteem and confidence at Rushmere Hall Primary

Improving learner confidence in handwriting and spelling - Clacton Coastal Academy

Improving behaviour and engagement in a nurture group - Alton Park Junior School

Tackling lunchtime dysregulation and classroom focus - Castle Hill Primary School

Finding the right intervention to support engagement - Murrayfield Primary Academy


St Margaret’s Primary School