As the National Lead for English as an Additional
Language, I’m often asked by professionals: ‘What are the key issues for EAL currently?’
One of the key questions is around how well are they doing. National outcomes at GCSE
would tell us that there is no gap any more, that pupils have caught up by the age of 16
and they’re now doing as well as their peers nationally. And that’s true. However, when
we look at the outcomes by region, we find there’s quite a variation. In London particularly,
EAL learners are doing well, in fact, they are doing better than their peers who speak
English as a first language. Once you get further away from London, gaps start to appear
and the widest gaps are in the North East of England and in the South West of England.
Equally, when we look at local authorities, there is not an even picture. Some local authorities’,
again in London, pupils are doing very well. In other cases, particularly in rural areas,
the gaps are much larger. The Annual Report of Ofsted last year highlighted local authorities
where pupils were not performing well at GCSE and there is a common pattern with many of
those authorities where EAL pupils are not doing well, either.