EAL Policy

Intercultural / Inclusion / EAL Policy for O’Connell Primary.

Introductory Statement

O’Connell Primary is an all-boys Catholic primary school, located in North Richmond St. Dublin 1. It caters for pupils from second to sixth class, more than 33% of whom come from other countries and whose first language is not English. The school caters for many Roma children who have had little previous education. In September 2016 we applied for an English Language Support Teacher to help cater for the needs of these pupils but were unsuccessful. In June 2017 however, following an appeal, a temporary English Language Support Teacher was granted to assist the Support Team to meet the needs of our International pupils. In October 2017, however, we were informed that we were to lose this teacher as we did not meet the criteria set out. Following an appeal we were allowed to retain the teacher allocated, until June 2018 at which time the post would be suppressed. From September 2018 the needs of our EAL children will be met from allocated resource hours.


International pupils have become a normal part of the primary school population in Ireland and O’Connell Primary has for many years welcomed children from different countries and cultures. Many of the pupils have very little English when they arrive in school. Others will have little or no English but also very little previous education. These pupils will be helped by classroom teachers and support teachers to develop their English language and educational skills as quickly and effectively as possible so that they can participate more actively in normal class activities. Our school’s aim is

· that the holistic needs of international pupils are catered for

· that they are included in all mainstream activities as quickly as possible

· that they develop a positive sense of self-esteem and confidence and feel happy and secure in school

· that they integrate quickly with classmates / peers both in class and in the school yard

· that they experience an effective learning environment where they can reach their full potential and where diversity and individuality are valued by all in the school.

Relationship to Characteristic Spirit of the School

O’Connell Primary promotes the principles of equality and respect in all aspects of education and supports the concept of equal access to full education for all our pupils. As we aim to aid the full and harmonious development of each child we feel that this can best be facilitated by adopting an intercultural approach to education, which will span all curricular areas of school life. We deem this to be of value to all our children, parents, staff and community.


· To enable international pupils to participate in all curricular areas to the best of their ability.

· To develop positive self-esteem and positive attitudes about school and learning.

· To develop effective whole school policies and parental involvement where possible.

· To support international pupils using a team approach and in-class support.

· To develop and implement learning programmes for each pupil in receipt of English language support based on assessment of needs and specific learning targets for each pupil.


1.School Ethos: O’Connell Primary promotes the principles of equality and respect in all aspects of education and supports the concept of equal access to full education for all our pupils.

2.Enrolment : International students are welcome to enrol in our school, provided there is a place in the appropriate class, in line with our enrolment policy. Parents of international students will be afforded help in completion of enrolment documentation, should they require it. Every effort will be made to create a warm and welcoming environment for overseas parents who approach the school to enrol their children.

Induction of New Children

It is the policy of O’Connell Primary to place new pupils in age appropriate classes, regardless of linguistic ability in English or educational capabilities.

Children will be assessed on arrival by our dedicated teacher to support international pupils. They will have an informal assessment to ascertain their English language ability, their reading and writing skills and their maths levels.

Where possible children will be placed in a class where there is a pupil who can speak their language. A “buddy system” where another pupil will be able to translate and explain what to do especially in the first few weeks will be very important to helping the new pupil settle in.

Pupils in the new-comers class will be asked to be welcoming and to help the new pupil settle in.

The designated support teacher will check on the progress of new pupils once they have been allocated to classes and support groups and will let pupils and their parents know that if they have any questions or concerns that they can come to him/her. The teacher will be available to meet parents before or after school especially at the beginning, to answer any questions and so alleviate some of the anxiety which may be felt by both the parents and the pupil.

3.Anti- Racism Charter : Every child in our school has the right to:

· Feel safe from mocking, threats, verbal and physical abuse.

· Be called by his own name.

· Be himself and be treated equally regardless of appearance, race, colour, gender or religion.

· Be included in school activities and have friends.

· Have his beliefs and personal belongings respected.

· Receive a good education without prejudice in a clean healthy environment.

· Give expression to his own opinions and feelings.

· Use and develop his own talents. Be listened to and have his privacy and confidences respected.

4.Racist Incidents: O’Connell Primary promotes the principles of equality and respect in all aspects of education and supports the concept of equal access to full education for all our pupils. Any breach of this ethos is in fact a breach of school rules as laid out in the Code of Behaviour.

5.Home-School Links / Parental Involvement :

Parents are encouraged to continue the development of their child’s first language. Parents will be encouraged to share their culture with the school, especially at the International Day. Parents will be encouraged to continue the development of their child’s first (or additional) language. It is imperative that the children retain their first (or other) language.

Communication Strategies:

· Induction meetings for new pupils

· Parent-Teacher meetings

· Incidental meetings with their son’s classroom teacher / support teacher.

Provision will be made for the collaboration between class teachers, support teacher and HSLT when formulating plans and monitoring progress of the pupils.

English Language Acquisition :

Children whose first language is not English are eligible for language support. Following the initial assessment pupils will be included in language support groups if it is felt that the child in not able to fully interact with the curriculum because of their English language proficiency. Children will be placed into appropriate support groups based on age or language proficiency and will also be supported in the classroom.

Children who enrol in the school who have little previous education or who have gaps in their education will be supported in their learning by being included in learning support groups. Teachers in the class will differentiate the work given to pupils and will try to provide as much help as possible to them, to help them access the curriculum at the class level in which they have been placed.

Provision of support:

The amount of resource time allocated to any child will depend on his current command of the English language and his educational needs. Resource time will be offered in a small group setting or in-class support, including team teaching. The amount of time and the form of support provided, will be determined by the Support team in consultation with the Principal and class teachers.

Language Support teaching will be based on the individual strengths and needs of each pupil, using as a basis the Language Proficiency Benchmarks and the European Language Portfolio provided by Integrate Ireland Language and Training (see “Up and Away“ p.38 - 40).

The pictorial materials supplied by IILT have been developed to support pupils in learning and reflect the demands of the primary curriculum.

The 13 Themes in “Up and Away” p.42 - 54. include

· Myself

· My School

· My Home Hobbies and Pastimes.

· Seasons

· Shopping

· Food Clothes

· People who help us

· Opposites

· Shapes

· Transport

· Animals and plants

· Holidays/Festivals

· Weather

Support will be provided in a variety of different settings to include, group work during language support time, group work and team teaching in class as well as supporting children’s individual needs. In general, as per Circular 12/96, if English is not the first language of the pupil, he may qualify for exemption from the study of Irish, and the school will complete the necessary documentation to obtain this exemption if the request comes from parents. However, for organisational reasons, the child may be required to remain in class during Irish time. (Circular 12/96 which has recently being revised)

Homework: EAL students will be given homework suitable to their needs. When pupils have attained a proficient level of English, they will be requested to attempt the homework as set out for that particular class. All pupils will be placed on an appropriate level of reading in the “Book Club” and new pupils will be encouraged to read from their Book Club books each night. Children who have a good level of education and who are transferring skills from one language to another will be able to make very good progress by making good use of the huge variety and suitability of books available to them in our library.

Attendance: The procedure for dealing with absenteeism and our strategies for encouraging attendance are laid out in our Attendance Policy.

Uniform: All children are requested to wear the full school uniform at all times. Parents who need help procuring the proper uniform for their child will be given assistance.

Induction Meetings for parents of new pupils: Our school booklet is issued to all parents at enrolment. It is written in English. We consider the booklet an essential reference book for parents as it contains information on:

· Opening/closing times.

· Uniform.

· Code of Behaviour/Bullying

· Attendance Policy. Illness.

· Healthy Lunch Policy.

· How parents can best help their child with educational matters.

Staff Development / Resources

The school has a number of resources e.g. “Toolkit for Diversity“, “Up and Away” and “ Intercultural Education in the Primary School” - for teacher information which are stored in the Library.

The school library or “Book Club”, with its 30 graded levels of reading is perhaps our most valuable resource. Once a child’s level of English and educational ability have been assessed, they can be placed on an appropriate “Book Club” level. Children who already have literacy skills can be allowed build vocabulary quickly as they will be allowed borrow 4 books at a time from the library. They will be allowed change books 2-3 times a week if they wish. Parents are shown our library facilities and encouraged to read with their children at home, especially if they have English themselves.

Special Needs

The staff of O’Connell Primary appreciate the culture shock that international children face and the challenge of assimilation into the Irish Educational System. It is further acknowledged that children who flee from their home country are dealing with added trauma. Where a psychological assessment is deemed necessary the procedure as laid out in the Special Needs/Learning Support Policy will be followed. It is hoped that through strong home-school relations, parents may trust staff members with such information when they are comfortable. Such information will be treated in confidence and relayed only to staff members concerned with the child (e.g. principal/class teacher, language / learning support teacher).

Curriculum :

The school will provide opportunities for children to have access to all areas of the curriculum. No child will be eliminated from activities, competitions or projects due to their race or religious belief. Each curricular plan has an intercultural component, mentioned under ‘Content and Methodologies‘

Assessment and Reporting:

International pupils will be assessed using the PSAK (Primary School Assessment Kit). The Language Proficiency Benchmarks, which reflect the themes and content of the primary curriculum are the starting point in deciding what the pupil needs to learn in order to engage with the classroom and social demands at the level of the peer group.

An initial interview assessment (“Toolkit for Diversity in the Primary School” p.20 - 21) will be used to provide the Language Support Teacher with a broad view of the pupil’s English language proficiency. This enables the Support Teacher to draw up a timetable for support taking the age, class and English language proficiency of the pupil into account.

A set of formalised assessment tools has been distributed by the Department of Education (PSAK). These tests are used to do an initial assessment, provide on-going formative assessments, will provide guidelines on placement of children already in the school and form the basis for planning a programme of work for the children.

The question of the initial socialization and integration of the new pupil will be observed. It will be observed whether the pupil is confident in the school environment, mixing with other pupils, participating in activities, joining in during class and trying to communicate with the teacher and others. The checklists on p.22, 23 and 25 (Toolkit for Diversity) are useful as feedback at intervals throughout the school year.

The well-being of the pupil is of the utmost importance and any concerns should be reported to the principal and support may be sought from the Child and Family service.

Monitoring Progress:

Progress will be monitored using the PSAK. This provides an individual pupil record which will be used to monitor pupil progress. Maintenance of an individual record allows both the class teacher and the language support teacher to identify the strengths and weaknesses of a pupil and to provide additional support where there is evidence of a problem developing or persisting.

Success Criteria: We will deem this policy successful if the following criteria are fulfilled:

· That the children will become proficient in the acquisition and use of the English language.

· That the children become fully integrated in to life of the school and participate in all activities

· An increase in the numbers of international parents attending parent teacher meetings/ school meetings

· An increased instance of varied language usage within the school: posters, labels, notices, songs, poems, conversations in languages other than English.

Roles and Responsibility :

As this is a whole school policy all staff members are responsible for the implementation of this plan. The teacher with responsibility for Intercultural /EAL pupils, supports the implementation of the plan and is responsible for the purchase, distribution and monitoring of resources.

Timeframe for implementation:

The decisions as laid out in this policy take effect from September 2018. All teachers will plan accordingly for the school year 2018/19 taking account of the decisions laid out in this policy.

Timeframe for review : This policy and all related policies will be reviewed during the 2019/20 school year

Responsibility for review : The principal will ensure each staff member has a copy of the policy prior to the review day.

Ratification and Communication: This policy was ratified by the BOM on 27/06/2018