English as an Additional Language (Policy)


The English as an Additional Language (EAL) policy at South Island School is constructed in line with the English Schools Foundation (ESF) Special Educational Needs Policy (2012).  The ESF EAL Policy is currently being created and this policy will be adapted to reflect the ESF policy once it has been formalised in 2021. EAL at South Island School comes under the Faculty of Individual Needs and Inclusion. This EAL policy is influenced by the IB philosophy that embraces difference and diversity and believes that all students should receive meaningful and equitable access to the curriculum. It also reflects international best practice for bilingual and multilingual learners.

Throughout this document the term ‘EAL’ refers to English as an Additional Language, ‘EAP’ refers to English for Academic Purposes, ‘BMLs’ refers to bilingual and multilingual learners, ‘IN’ refers to Individual Needs and ‘the School’ or ‘SIS’ refers to South Island School.

The policy will be reviewed on a two year cycle.

  • Next review:  March 2022.
  • Document composed by:
  • Elizabeth O’Sullivan, Head of EAL, April 2020

EAL at South Island School

Students from all linguistic backgrounds are considered for admission to the school. The admissions process seeks to determine whether applicants are sufficiently proficient in English that they can successfully access the curriculum of the school.

The school is committed to offering a differentiated system of inclusive support to BMLs. While offering a curriculum with English as the medium of instruction, the school values, supports and recognises the importance of each BML’s native language or mother tongue.

The School’s Principles

  • All South Island School teachers are teachers of EAL
  • Parents play a vital role in supporting their child’s education and should ensure that their child/children have the required amount of English support at home if their child needs extra help to access the curriculum.
  • BMLs should be offered support by the school in every year group to achieve their potential as learners throughout the Secondary school curriculum.

The School’s Objectives for EAL Provision

  • The school will use admission testing and interview to ascertain the oral, written and reading level of each applicant’s English to ensure he/she has sufficient proficiency in English to access the SIS curriculum.
  • The school will manage resources, in line with ESF policy, to ensure, where possible given limited resources, that all students’ EAL needs are met.
  • Decisions about provision for individual students will be made on the basis of individual need, within staffing and timetable restrictions.
  • Parents and students are required to be fully involved in the educational process and in providing feedback.
  • The best possible provision will be made within the resources available.
  • Provision and progress for BMLs will be monitored and reviewed regularly.
  • The school will work with outside agencies, where they are available, and as appropriate.
  • Appropriate training will be provided through the ESF Professional Development programme, and others, for those involved in the implementation of the policy and for the whole staff on a regular basis.

Persons Responsible for the School’s EAL Provision

  • Headteacher
  • Vice Principal with responsibility for providing support to the IN Department.
  • Head of Inclusion
  • Head of EAL
  • EAL teachers
  • Subject teachers
  • School Librarian

Facilities for Students with EAL

Admission Arrangements

Transferring ESF Students:

  • Entry from ESF feeder schools provides us with INCAS and ISA data as well as Yr 6 teacher information and recommendations which are used to assist the school in deciding on tutor placements and any curriculum support/differentiation required. Furthermore, CAT4 and Oxford Placement Testing will be introduced for Year 6 Feeder Primary students on a rolling programme beginning March 2020 to diagnose EAL issues as promptly as possible and to place each BML in the correct support category.

Non-ESF Students:

  • Entry from Non-ESF Primary schools is via testing and interview with Head of Year or Head of Phase and Head of EAL. CAT4 and Oxford Placement testing will also be used to diagnose EAL issues as promptly as possible and to place each BML in the correct support category.

Mid-Term Applicants.

  • Students applying to join SIS once term has begun are tested and interviewed by Head of Year or Head of Phase and Head of EAL. Currently they are not tested with the CAT4 or Oxford Placement test before entry.

Individual Needs and EAL Crossover Students:

  • The admission arrangements and support for students with both IN and EAL needs are managed on a case by case basis by the Head of Inclusion and the Head of EAL.

See the school’s Admissions Policy (http://www.sis.edu.hk/admissions/).

  • EAL classroom (shared with Japanese Language teacher)
  • EAL small group room
  • School library ‘hubs’

Resource Allocation

EAL Funding at South Island School is funded from the ESF budget and the school’s overall budget, and is allocated largely on the basis of individual need. Support is graduated according to needs, priorities and availability of resources, using the ESF  Model of Differentiation for EAL learners. 

  • The allocation of human resources to support students is decided by the EAL Department based on need and taking into account requests from mainstream staff.
  • The department has full access to the schools professional development training budget.

Identification, Assessment and Review of BMLs

Students’ English support needs are identified by a variety of means:

  • Transfer documentation
  • Diagnostic testing
  • Admissions testing
  • Teacher referral
  • Parent referral
  • Self referral
  • Analysis of assessment data via the school reporting system
  • Standardised testing

BML’s are categorised at SIS using the following terms:

Intensive – has a mother tongue other than English and will need substantial support to access the English curriculum at SIS.

Moderate – has a mother tongue other than English and will need some support to access the English curriculum at SIS.

Low – has a mother tongue other than English and this has a slight effect on attainment and progress. 

EAL – has a mother tongue other than English but this has little to no effect on attainment or progress.

Achievement and progress of BMLs can be defined in a number of ways.  For example, it might be progress which:

  • Matches or betters the student’s previous rate of progress.
  • Being similar to that of peers starting from the same attainment baseline.
  • Demonstrates improvement in written and spoken English and in understanding in English year on year.

Subject Teacher Responsibility for BMLs

‘Intensive’ and ‘Moderate’ BMLs

Subject teachers are responsible for ensuring student progress through differentiation of materials and assessments.  Subject teachers will be expected to have undertaken the following actions. 

  • Use existing information as a starting point.
  • Use baseline assessment to identify what the student knows, understands and can do.
  • Use iSAMS data and the EAL Report to implement strategies that might help the student.
  • Differentiate where possible
  • Ask for in-class support from an EAL teacher
  • Report on student progress and seek help or advice from the  EAL Dept. when needed.

‘Low’ and ‘EAL’ BMLs

  • Use existing information as a starting point
  • Use baseline assessment to identify what the student knows, understands and can do
  • Contact the EAL Dept. for advice if you suspect the EAL level of a student needs to be reviewed.

iSAMS EAL Report

The EAL Report on iSAMS is a working document outlining the EAL level, the needs, abilities and possible teaching strategies to adopt for EAL students.

The iSAMS EAL Report should:

  • Raise awareness and knowledge of BMLs among staff
  • Raise the achievement of BMLs
  • Be seen as a working document
  • Be updated termly for leaving students and annually in June.
  • Detail teaching strategies that are ‘additional to’ or ‘different from’ those that are generally used for all students.
  • Be comprehensible to all staff
  • Be available to all staff
  • Result in good planning and intervention by staff

New Student Information Spreadsheet

The new student information spreadsheet is filled in by the Head of EAL after new applicants to each year group have been interviewed and discussed with the HoY and HoPh. It should:

  • Give initial information about the language and cultural heritage of new students to SIS.
  • Identify which languages are spoken by the student and at what level.
  • Give brief information on the skills and hobbies of new students to facilitate easy entry into the SIS community and into classes

Curriculum Provision for BMLs

Years 7- 9

  • ‘Intensive’ BMLs attend ‘Intensive English’ classes for four hours per cycle in place of one of their Language options. 
  • ‘Intensive’ and “Moderate’ BMLs are withdrawn from their library lesson to attend a small group booster English class.
  • ‘Low’ and ‘EAL’ BMLs do not receive any in-school support, but are monitored via their English class results to ensure progress is being made.

Years 10 -11

  • BMLs attend a two hour English skills lesson once per cycle.
  • In-class support in English lessons is offered to the foundation level English set.
  • In-Class support in InSoc and other lessons to be offered in 2020/21 depending on EAL staffing levels.

Years 12-13

  • English for Academic Purposes (EAP) classes given to selected students, based on their timetable availability.
  • One-to-One sessions offered to several students who need the most help, particularly students new to SIS in Year 12.
  • In-Class support offered to English Lit and Lang/Lit lessons in Yr 12 and 13.

Exam Accommodation Arrangements for BMLs

BML students can be given the option of dictionary use and some extra time if they satisfy the IGCSE/GCSE exam board conditions. However, as the exam board requires students to have been at an English speaking school for less than two years to receive any accommodations, hardly any SIS students satisfy this requirement.

For IB the same rules apply – but some students may receive accommodations if they score less than 70 in the Oxford Placement Test.

Monitoring and Evaluating the Provision for BMLs

EAL staff undertake a periodic review of the provisions for BMLs annually at the following times.

Yr 6 – March

Yr 7-9 – April

Yr 10 -12 – June

Any complaints from parents of BMLs concerning the provision made at South Island School will follow the process stated in the ESF “Complaints Procedure for Schools” document.

Professional EAL Development Arrangements for Mainstream Staff

ESF offers a staffed training programme and within-school run professional development courses on areas of need. The professional development of all staff involved in meeting the needs of BMLs is continuous and ongoing. The school has allocated time during the course of the academic year to facilitate the training of all staff in specific aspects of EAL teaching. ESF offers specialist EAL training as well as other training opportunities being supported as they arise.

EAL Staff across the foundation share good practice through regular meetings of the EAL Curriculum group. 

Role of Parents of BMLs

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