How do I support EAL students?

Family Learning
Tracey James from King Richard School in
talks to the National Literacy Trust about
how her school has involved parents in
learning to improve their own and their
children’s literacy.
Key Strategy 1:
Invite parents in to celebrate their
child’s learning
•There should be no negative comments at all.
•Celebrate their progress, no matter how small.
• Parents might be surprised to be invited, as
often they are only called if their child has done
something wrong.
Key Strategy 2
Use different forms of communication
Use as many ways as possible to communicate
with parents.
For example, King Richard School sent letters,
phoned home, promoted it in their school
bulletin and on their website.
Key Strategy 3
Make parents feel welcome!
• Create an environment that is informal, friendly and nonjudgemental. Provide tea and coffee. Use first names.
• Talk to all of them.
• Create an adult space or grown up area such as the
kitchen area.
• Accommodate younger siblings by creating a toy area.
• Use incentives such as free books and shopping vouchers.
Key Strategy 4
Develop a routine for when parents
attend family learning sessions
•For example, King Richard School uses a settler,
recap, main activity and application activity.
•The application hands learning over to the parents
and child, giving them a chance to work together
and the teacher a chance to talk with parents 1:1.
•Create an equal partnership.
Key Strategy 5
Provide parents with training to support
their students in class
• Establish links with the local colleges who can provide
support in the development of training materials.
• Tracey used her Functional Skills training and previous
experience to train her parents in Paired Reading, using
her links with the Basic Skills Agency an NIACE.
• Visit this website for further information
Key Strategy 6
Develop a menu of parent learning
• Once parents are comfortable in the learning
environment, use the family learning time as a
springboard to other adult training.
• For example, King Richard School used the
success of the family learning English lesson to
introduce paired parental reading and then adult
literacy and ESOL classes.
Key Strategy 7
Think about which books you offer to both
adults and parents.
•Quick Reads are short books by best selling authors and
celebrities that are designed to support reluctant older
readers who find reading tough.
•To find out more, visit
Key Strategy 8
Be discrete when bringing in parents,
particularly with older students
• Some students can feel embarrassed and/or
singled out at first. As the process becomes more
regular, parents being invited in to school will
become expected and usual.
• In King Richard School, most students’ behaviour
improved when parents were in and the students
felt proud.
Key Strategy 9
Whole school support is essential!
• For example, the Head Teacher at King Richard
School has provided a room for the family learning
centre that has a kitchen and toilets close by.
• Staff have also donated books and toys.
• Time has been given to set up the programmes.
• Training has been provided for staff.
Key Strategy 10
Invest in the school’s support team
• Provide staff with training in how to spot adults
with literacy issues.
• Provide staff with training about the
programme/s so that the menu of what’s on offer
can grow and break the cycle of low literacy and