EAL – English as an Additional Language

Welcome to the English as an Additional Language (EAL) section of the website. Our school is proud to host native speakers of 40 languages. If you arrive at our school and English is not your first language you will be assessed using the Bell Foundation framework on your reading, writing, speaking and listening skills. The department currently runs a week long Orientation Course for new students. They become familiar with our values and expectations and develop routine. They prepare presentations about themselves which are then shown to parents and students are awarded a certificate.

New students also receive their own bilingual dictionary which they must promise to look after and return to the department in a year. We also offer a 12 week induction program which provides an introduction to English grammar and vocabulary to help students access their other core subjects. They have six hours a week with us, this is composed of three timetabled lessons and three after school (enrichment) classes. In addition to this we run a club every lunchtime where students can use either English in a Flash or Little Bridge. Both activities are interactive and engaging for students.

GCSE Heritage Exams

The department regularly enters students for GCSE exams in their heritage language. We have a high success rate with students achieving at the highest levels in Portuguese, Italian, Polish, French and Spanish.

Young Interpreters

Young Interpreters undergo specific training to prepare for this role and are selected on the basis of different personal qualities they may have. The support they can offer to students who are new to the country can be very reassuring from a parent or carer’s view at a time when their child may be adapting to substantial changes. It also supports academy staff in a variety of ways at different points during the academy day.

Special Thursdays

Once a week during our enrichment lessons we have Special Thursdays. This is where students prepare questions on a specific topic chosen by a mystery guest. The guest then comes to give a short presentation on their topic of choice and the students become interviewers. It is a great way to make friends, improve confidence and refine key learning skills. The students really benefit from being able to interact with different members of staff and each other. They are able to make mistakes without being under pressure and everyone can get involved. Staff are also able to assess students on the four key skills. The idea is mostly connected with developing students’ speaking and listening skills but there are many more advantages to add, such as:

*socialising – interacting – integrating

*using language for purpose/ having a context

* listening to authentic and varied language

*learning about different people and lifestyles

Additionally, we want our students to develop their writing skills by making a list of questions to our guests before each of the visits and also answer some comprehension questions after the events.

Integration is the key point if we want the EAL learners to reach their linguistic potential. Special Thursdays is an exciting and innovative enrichment project that brings new challenges for our learners, promotes integration and creates a sense of community.

Our students enjoy meeting new guests and learning about various topics. We already have had guests answering questions about rugby, football, baking, music, Christmas, apprenticeship, Valencia, Indian weddings and more. We share the feeling of excitement with the students who attend the sessions as we all love Special Thursdays.


Below are a selection of photographs from our Special Thursdays sessions this academic year.

EAL Orientation Course

We understand that it is difficult for students that are new to the country to come to a new school. At Cockburn John Charles, we want to support these students so we have an orientation course.

What is the EAL orientation course?

On the orientation course, students are supported in getting to know the school and finding their way around, visiting classes and teachers and meeting other support staff. The students are given a lunch account in the school canteen and have their biometric thumb print taken for this. All students receive a dictionary that they keep for the school year. The students also learn about safeguarding and British Values. For students in Year 9-11, we help them to choose their options subjects based on what they enjoy, their abilities and their future career choices if known. They meet with different staff members and learn about new topics.


Students are paired up with a buddy. We try to match students who can speak the same home language where possible and these buddies can help the students to settle into classes, have break time and lunch together and make new friends. It is important that the children feel comfortable, happy and are able to be independent. Our Young Interpreters are always happy to help.

Finishing the course

On the last day of the orientation course, we welcome parents to join us to watch the students perform their ‘all about me’ presentations and students receive a certificate of completion for the orientation course.

What happens next?

The teachers are informed about the new students, their level of English and their language profiles so that they can prepare for the EAL students in their classes. Students receive their timetables and form groups and join their new classes.

What to do if your child doesn’t feel happy about the school

We understand that starting a new school can be intimidating, especially when it’s a new language and culture. We encourage parents to speak to teachers here, either in person or by telephone.

Below are a selection of photographs from our EAL Orientation course.



















Cockburn John Charles EAL Journal

Please see below for links to our department journal, sharing news and information regarding how we support students in the academy with English as an additional language.

Issue 1

Issue 2

Issue 3