The importance of supporting EAL families

At Tutors United, we are incredibly lucky to work with a huge range of people and couldn’t help but celebrate that diversity today on National Immigrants Day. Not only do our tutors represent a range of communities from around the world, but also many of our amazing families are first-generation or immigrants themselves. We are proud to be an organisation that demonstrates how fantastic results can arise from a diverse group of people working towards a common goal  – to increase educational attainment for primary pupils through fun and engaging Maths and English tuition.

What I’d like to give some attention to is immigrant families with English as an additional language (EAL). With 48% of our pupils coming from EAL families, we routinely hear reports from parents that their children need more support than they’re receiving at school and are unable to afford the supplemental education needed to catch their child up. In addition to financial constraints, many of the EAL parents we work with do not feel confident in their own ability to fully support their pupils’ learning at home due to language barriers and/or a lack of personal experience within the UK education system.

At TU, we see huge gains in Literacy and Numeracy amongst the pupils graduating from our programme – amongst our EAL pupils we saw an average progress of 2 sub-levels in English in just 30 weeks of tuition! But we also recognise that there are a number of factors that contribute to how a pupil does over the course of their educational career and the one thing that is a consistent presence is the family.

It’s not enough to focus on the attainment of the pupil in isolation; there needs to be more support for the family as a whole. More than ever, there is greater pressure on parents to be increasingly more responsible for the educational performance of their children. With the proportion of EAL pupils growing (DfE, Jan 2019), we need to do more to support parents who are keen but feel unable to assist in their child’s learning at home.

We are continually expanding and redefining the support we offer to meet our families’ needs and I would challenge other organisations that address attainment of children in EAL families to consider the opportunities they might have to engage with the wider community that will continue to shape their growth. In doing so, we can magnify our impact and foster sustainable improvements in learning.

 

References:

Max Antony-Newman (2019) Parental involvement of immigrant parents: a meta-synthesis, Educational Review, 71:3, 362-381, DOI: 10.1080/00131911.2017.1423278

Department for Education. (2019). ‘Schools, pupils and their characteristics: January 2019’ [pdf].