The Findings Of The Government Funded Teaching Education Essay

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The 1985 Swann report noted, "School performance has long been known to show a close correlation with socio-economic status and social class, in the case of all children. The ethnic minorities, however, are particularly disadvantaged in social and economic terms, and there can no longer be any doubt that this extra deprivation is the result of racial prejudice and discrimination" (Department for Education and Skills [DfES], 1985, p.768). Clearly, our education system was failing as it was delivering to some pupils, based on their ethnic background, a sub-standard service. As a result of its findings, the report stated plainly, "multicultural understanding has to permeate all aspects of a school's work. Only in this way can schools begin to offer anything approaching the equality of opportunity for all pupils which it must be the aspiration of the education system to provide" (DfES, 1985, p.769). Here the Swann report highlights a key principle in the evolution of our curriculum and education system, providing as far as is possible, equality of opportunity to all children. This principle has continued to inform a generation of educational statements such as the 1994 Salamanca Statement ensuring the rights of children who have Special Educational Needs (SEN) to be educated in mainstream schools (Thomas and Vaughn, 2004).

As well as the 2003 'Every Child Matters' policy which has ensured that children are protected by institutions that co-operate to safeguard children of every background and help them reach their full potential (DfES, 2004). This is still an issue that requires continued commitment. In recent years, observations have noted that educational professionals were continuing to fail black pupils (Blair, 2007). Indeed one of the key legislative statements defining responsibilities for teachers, the Race Relations Amendment Act of 2000, was at least partly the result of the report into the death of Stephen Lawrence, which found institutional racism still lodged in one of Britain's most important institutions of public service (MacPherson, 1999). As such we will all, as members of public bodies, carry a statutory duty set out by the Race Relations Act to "eliminate unlawful racial discrimination", "promote equality of opportunity and good relations between people of different racial groups" and monitor the provision we are providing for all pupils (Department for Children Schools and Families [DCSF], 2010).

The tenth principle of effective teaching and learning as outlined by the government funded Teaching and Learning Research Programme (TLRP) states that, 'Effective pedagogy demands consistent policy frameworks with support for learning as their primary focus' (TLRP, 2010). It is important for practitioners to consider the policies given to them by the government and to make sure that children who use English as an Additional Language (EAL) are accounted for across the board of learning. The above mentioned policies were introduced to ensure that the teaching profession can be governed to ensure that set standards are met. However, it is important for teachers to feel that they can bring their own enthusiasm and ideas to the children across the curriculum and not restrict their own methods due to governmental policies, which may have originally enthused them to take up the teaching profession.

One of the most important perspectives that allow teachers to practically understand the implications of these principles is that of 'Inclusion'. The national curriculum's 'Statutory Inclusion Statement' first drafted in 2000 sets out clearly the requirement that teachers must provide equality of opportunity and learning that challenges children at all levels. Personalising learning objectives and differentiating classroom activities, providing interactive and visual activities such as role-play and partner talk and mixed ability group work, are encouraged in both this statements statutory and non-statutory guidance (Qualifications and Curriculum Development Agency, 2010). Learners from any SEN, disability, ethnic or language background can become a part of the educational experience, enhancing that experience for others and receiving the equal opportunity they deserve. An inclusive approach to issues of equality and diversity is one that stresses above all else, the right of each individual to be included in education with every other child and thereby be included more wholly in society itself, as in practice pathways through education are also pathways into society as a whole.

This approach is not without conflicts and ambiguities, Todd and Ellis pose the question "If inclusion is about human rights and I have a pupil who is disrupting others in the class, does the individual right of a pupil to be included take precedence over the right of the rest not the class to learn?" (Todd & Ellis, 2006, p.280). At what point do the strategies teachers use to overcome individual barriers to learning impact upon teaching of the group and where is the line drawn? There is no clear-cut answer to this conflict but flexibility and compromise must always be part of the teacher's repertoire of skills.

Every school and class will be different and we must strive to create the most inclusive practice possible under each circumstance. Children and the values of our society can only lose out if they are not exposed to the social diversity that an inclusive approach to populating our classrooms can bring (Todd & Ellis, 2006, p.280). As seen above in the 'inclusion statement' and the 'Race Relations Act' and in various other documents, we as teachers have a legal and statutory duty, as well as a moral and ethical one, to provide the best chance for equal opportunity to those who would stand at a disadvantage without it.

One of the most challenging barriers to the practice of inclusion that we will all have to overcome must be teaching pupils who use EAL. This is a nationwide issue, 13.5% of children in England in 2007 had a first language other than English (DCSF, 2007). The Swann report noted that an EAL child was at an "immediate disadvantage" within the educational system (DfES, 1985, p399). Indeed being unable to communicate effectively with their teacher or peers and having little access to content delivered in the class language can leave these children isolated without effective inclusive strategies. These children are often viewed as possessing a learning difficulty due to their difficulty in class and labelled incorrectly as SEN. This ignores the often competent linguistic skills they possess in their own language. Carefully maintaining a concept of these children as 'bilingual' will be the key foundation that will allow us to recognise and access these children's learning abilities (Northcote, 2006, p.333). It has often also been assumed that it is only through focusing upon adopting English as a sole first language that a learner can engage with society. In the system, that Swann observed these misconceptions fuelled the common use of language centres and withdrawal of EAL pupils, practices that Swann identifies as institutionally racist (DfES, 1985, p389).

Northcote quotes the former home secretary David Blunkett stating that Asian families should adopt English at home as their sole language to "overcome the schizophrenia which bedevils generational relationships" (Blunkett, 2006, cited in Northcote, 2006). As Northcote observes he has clearly missed the vital importance that the first language plays in the acquisition of a second. By promoting additional mother tongue languages in the classroom, you are expanding the minds of the members of your class. The policies and legislative developments mentioned above outline that a classroom should be assessable to all and to allow children to learn from one another's' backgrounds through the use of language.

The first principle of effective teaching and learning as outlined by the TLRP states that, 'Effective pedagogy equips learners for life in its broadest sense' (TLRP, 2010). This includes important aspects of accepting a diverse and changing society therefore leading to an important emphasise on EAL children.

Cummins and Swain explored and defined this developmental relationship between first and new languages as 'linguistic interdependence' (Cummins and Swain, 1986) and it is from this perspective that we see that the support of the 'mother tongue' or 'first language' in teaching is one of the most important strategies at a teacher's disposal to provide an inclusive education for EAL learners. Cummings states that, "Children's knowledge and skills transfer across languages from the mother tongue they have learned in the home to the school language…both languages nurture each other when the educational environment permits children access to both languages" (Cummins, 2003). These children have a significant store of linguistic and communicative skill, only through incorporating their own language in their learning can their skills in the classroom language really flourish. Furthermore as Cummins states, "when the message, implicit or explicit, communicated to children in the school is "Leave your language and culture at the schoolhouse door," children also leave a central part of who they are their identities at the schoolhouse door" (Cummins, 2003). To leave this from their school based learning would be to go against the principles and the expectations of the profession to support diversity and inclusion in schooling.

The second principle of effective teaching and learning as outlined by the TLRP states that, 'Effective pedagogy engages with valued forms of knowledge' (TLRP, 2010). It is important when considering children with EAL that a teacher finds the most accessible way to teach their class new concepts. It could be the case that the teacher may have more than ten different mother tongues in their classroom, with children of varying abilities in English therefore it is important the teacher is able to teach using "child speak" that the children find easy and accessible. The third principle of effective teaching and learning as outlined by the TLRP states that, 'Effective pedagogy recognises the importance of prior experience and learning' (TLRP, 2010).

As a teacher it is important that when children with EAL are in your class that you are considerate towards their backgrounds and their previous education. It would be useful to speak to the parents / guardians of the child so that you can assess what level the child is at; this would enable you to progress the child's learning at a successful level.

The seventh principle of effective teaching and learning as outlined by the TLRP states that, 'Effective pedagogy fosters both individual and social processes and outcomes' (TLRP, 2010). It is important to allow children with EAL to talk in both English and their mother tongue whilst working in the classroom. It enables them to communicate more effectively with other members of the same mother tongue and lets them discuss ideas and concepts in the classroom. However, it is important that they are encouraged to talk in English when they feel comfortable so that they are capable of consulting with the teacher and other learners and a common voice within the classroom.

The Swann report identified three possible structures of support for first languages and this is a useful structure with which we can approach the practicality of the issue. Firstly, 'bilingual education' in which children are at first instructed in the mother tongue alongside English with a parent or supporting adult helping in class. Secondly, 'mother-tongue maintenance' where they will be taught in English but given some separate instruction in their own language to aid their development and finally 'mother-tongue teaching' in which it can be incorporated as a modern foreign language as part of the curriculum. Each has benefits and limitations (DfES, 1985, p.399).

The forth principle of effective teaching and learning as outlined by the TLRP states that, 'Effective pedagogy requires the learning to be scaffolded' (TLRP, 2010). In the classroom to assist children who use EAL it is very important that new information that the children are learning is strong in knowledge and content. If content was not successfully scaffolded then it would mean that children with EAL would be at a greater disadvantage as the important underpinning of the new theories they have learnt will not be in place. From the above mentioned policies, it is clear that equality and accessibility for all children is to be met independent of their special educational needs. It is the practitioner's duty to make sure that specific targets that the children are set are met by the children and for those that do not reach their targets that the practitioner is able to assess the short fall in the children's attainment.

The ninth principle of effective teaching and learning as outlined by the TLRP states that, 'Effective pedagogy depends on the learning of all those who support the learning of others' (TLRP, 2010). It should be considered an important principle to any practitioner working with children. As a teacher, one should constantly strive to further one's knowledge so that one is able to introduce the concepts to the children, especially those with EAL, with confidence and ability. The areas discussed previously propose that teachers should work closely with other members of staff who support the learning of the children, to ensure that the staff are equally secure in their knowledge so that all children are given the best opportunity to learn.

At an early age in KS1 or for a child who has little to no English, 'bilingual education' is a pivotal introductory tool. The presence of a parent or other supporting adult to directly support a child into the educational environment allows participation while the basics of communicative English are achieved. This gives the child, class and teacher time to adapt. This strategy is initially very inclusive, allowing the child to understand the class in their own context and gain confidence engaging within the class environment. Through this direct support, personalising and differentiating class learning objectives and using visual and interactive participatory strategies to access the child's learning and overcome the language barrier; the bridging of skills from first to second language can be very effective. However, use of bilingual education past this stage can begin to hinder development. Cummins and Swain argue that past an introductory stage the two languages should be separated for instructional purposes. Children, when consistently given tasks or instruction in both, will eventually develop a tendency to simply filter out whichever is less understood (Cummins and Swain, 1986, p.108). The first language should be maintained to aid linguistic development, but a degree of 'immersion' within the class language should begin in order to challenge the child's development.

The eighth principle of effective teaching and learning as outlined by the TLRP states that, 'Effective pedagogy recognises the significance of informal learning' (TLRP, 2010). Informal learning environments could really benefit children with EAL, as many informal learning settings will have information booklets in numerous languages making the learning more accessible to the children. There is also a chance that the settings will be more exciting with children who have just moved to the United Kingdom, to be amazed and really get the "wow" factor from informal learning centres such as The Science Museum in London. Children should feel challenged throughout their education and informal learning offers opportunities for many children to experience new concepts which they may not have considered learning through school, such as milking a cow at a farm school.

So relatively quickly, once the basics of class language are being grasped there can be an emphasis on a separated instruction or 'mother tongue maintenance'. One example of this is at Stewart Headlam School in London, which took part in research into this method. While class time remained firmly in English, the EAL children were provided with one and a half hours, over four days, of mother tongue instruction after school each week in which they would produce dual-language texts and explore the differences between their own language and English through comparison and translation. This met with a great deal of success and significantly improved the attainment of all the children who took part across the school curriculum (Teachernet, 2002). An approach like that of Stewart Headlam School harnesses 'linguistic interdependence' and allows children to apply their existing linguistic knowledge. The children get the support of a bilingual approach and still maintain the challenge and proven results of immersion in a new language (Cummins and Swain, 1986 pp.55-56), combining approaches that would at first seem opposed.

Recently in 2009, the DCSF published its primary framework for languages. In this document, it set out a plan for modern foreign language provision to be statutory at key stage two from 2011 (DCSF, 2009). This may no longer be certain but the guidance holds significant potential for the inclusion of EAL children. This framework does not specify the use of any particular language and in fact encourages the use of 'mother tongue' languages as a fulfilment of the statutory requirement where it may be of benefit. The ability of this framework to encourage the uptake of 'mother tongues' as modern foreign language (MFL) subject material within the mainstream curriculum would echo Swann's third model of 'mother tongue teaching' and take bilingual inclusive teaching practice further.

The DCSF document, echoing Cummings, suggests, "As children deepen their knowledge of their first language and learn to use it for cognitively demanding tasks they develop linguistic proficiency common to all languages" (DCSF, 2009, p.36). Here is a chance to take linguistic interdependence, proven to yield results in Stewart Headlam, bringing it into the experience of all children. Further to boosting the EAL child's attainment, this whole class involvement will allow children who are beginners in English the confidence to contribute to other class topics, having seen the class share in discovering their language from the position of the beginner. It will take the idea of inclusion further, promote more understanding, and allow greater communication between EAL and other pupils as well as encouraging a more inclusive learning environment, school ethos and more broad-minded children (DCSF, 2009, p.36).

Whether or not it becomes statutory, the provision of MFL languages in the primary setting using mother languages could provide an interesting new opportunity for all learners in a class with EAL children. Without knowledge of this language oneself it would be difficult to implement as a class teacher. However with the help of a specialist or coordinator in schools where this might be of particular interest to the community, class teachers would need only to instruct the basics or simple contextual vocabulary while the provision is managed across classes much like many foundation subjects, such as music, are today in some schools.

The fifth principle of effective teaching and learning as outlined by the TLRP states that, 'Effective pedagogy needs assessment to be congruent with learning' (TLRP, 2010). It is important to consider assessment and the different methods, so that it is possible to get a full understanding of all members of one's cohort. It is important to make sure the testing is valid so that children are asked some questions that challenge their thinking as well as questions that should be considered common knowledge after being taught a specific subject. EAL children may need to have different targets or even be asked to write about the subject in their own language to see if they have a more complete understanding than that shown by their English.

Schools must encourage children to use their own language skills. The 1975 Bullock report stated firmly; "no child should be expected to cast off the language and culture of the home as he crosses the school threshold" (Bullock 1975, cited in DfES, 1985, p.401). It is our duty as teachers who aspire to providing an inclusive learning environment and subscribe to the principles of equality, opportunity and diversity to provide a place for these languages. This is a principle supported by Ofsted in their 2008 report 'Every Language Matters', an attempt to highlight the positive impact of community languages in the curriculum for bilingual learners and for inclusive practice as a whole (Ofsted, 2008).

The sixth principle of effective teaching and learning as outlined by the TLRP states that, 'Effective pedagogy promotes the active engagement of the learner' (TLRP, 2010). Children with EAL should be challenged at the same level as other members of their class. It is important that they are encouraged to find independence in their learning and create a bank of strategies to enable them to do so. To promote children's independence in their own learning, a class could create group and individual posters and to prompt them of their bank of strategies that they can use when they become stuck. The group posters can be displayed next to where the pupils are working in the classroom, and the individual posters could be placed in the child's home to promote learning both at school and home to create a positive learning environment where the children feel supported.

Through the wide breadth of research, policy and legislative developments that have been explored, numerous avenues are in need of vital consideration whilst embarking on a teaching career. Although many challenges are faced, the clear specialist approach to teaching will become invaluable within both my practical and academic understandings. That said I look forward to exerting my knowledge in the coming term.

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