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Primary>Assessment and Setting in Key Stage 1 and 2
Assessment and Setting

There are additional issues which teachers need to consider when assessing learners of EAL. Any assessment to inform setting or curricular targets should take into account the following:

  • language and educational history including number of years in UK

  • literacy skills in L1

  • attainment across core subjects . An uneven pattern may highlight where lack of fluency in English is resulting in underachievement

  • levels for speaking, listening, reading and writing . These will reveal important information about uneven performance and inform curricular targets

There should be a convenient way of recording data which collates this information. The EAL Pupil Summary (see forms) is a format which could be used or adapted for this purpose.

Assessment of English Levels

The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) has suggested a non-statutory assessment scheme for EAL pupils. This involves two preliminary assessment levels, called Step 1 and Step 2, prior to Level 1 in English. Level 1 is split into sub-levels: Threshold and Secure. Thereafter, standard National Curriculum descriptors are followed.

In Bracknell Forest , we have adopted an extended QCA Scale that has been expanded using further descriptors. These help to make the assessment more accurate and valid for EAL pupils. Evidence for the pupils’ development of vocabulary, structure, etc. can be gained from all 4 skill areas – listening, speaking, reading and writing. The levels can be used to:

  • record progress of pupils in the early stages of learning English
  • assess the level of need across a school;
  • set targets for the progress of pupils learning EAL

The list of descriptors under each step is written in the order of difficulty/acquisition, so that it will be possible to indicate that a pupil is on level 2.3 or level 3.4, etc. The final blank column is for staff to fill in a date when a pupil achieves that particular level.
Grouping and Setting

Standardised tests and/or subject tests which are designed for fluent speakers of English are not suitable for gauging the academic level of the EAL beginner. Their inability to speak English can create the appearance of a more generalised lack of ability and the pupil will inevitably be placed in a low set. Pupils’ fluency in English must not be taken as a measure of the quality of their thinking.  

  • When older pupils are assessed on entry to school, it is often possible, for example by looking at written work in their first language, to get an idea of their existing level of attainment. Pupils should then have opportunities to work in a group that corresponds to that level regardless of their English.

  • Where possible, a mixed ability group is the best environment for the language learner. Flexibility is important. The child’s previous learning experiences will be varied as will her/his talents in different subjects.

  • It is often believed that language is less demanding in a lower Maths set but this is not the case. Although a beginner in English may benefit from working with a lower literacy set, the setting for Maths should be based on his/her mathematical ability rather than level of English


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