While the number pupils who use English as an additional language (EAL) continues to rise (DfE, 2018), the availability of specialist EAL expertise in schools is decreasing. This can be attributed to a variety of factors including the reduction or loss of funding for central EAL support within local authorities (Hutchinson, 2018) following the removal of ringfenced funding and the overall pressure on schools’ budgets (Perera et al, 2017).
An important challenge for school leaders is to build long-term sustainable capacity and appropriate provision for EAL pupils who now form 21.2 per cent of the state primary school population within the context of fewer resources to support this work. Although headline figures published by the Department for Education (DfE, 2016) show that, on average, in 2016 EAL pupils performed well, research suggests that the heterogeneity of the EAL group makes overall average attainment figures for the EAL group profoundly misleading (Hutchinson, 2018).
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