Trinity Academy Leeds is a multilingual and multicultural school serving a diverse community in the heart of Leeds. We are an inclusive academy fostering the sense of belonging for all young people and staff. At Trinity Academy Leeds we operate from an asset-based approach where the teaching and learning process leverages multilingual students’ linguistic and cultural backgrounds. Our high-quality curriculum simultaneously supports and challenges all students so that they can further develop their subject knowledge and language at the same time. All teachers plan and deliver lessons with the appropriate level of various strategies which promote language development within a subject area. Language is expertly interwoven and taught explicitly across the curriculum so that all lessons are accessible to the students, regardless of their current level of English. We unite all students’ families and communities to ensure that the multilingual students’ identities and languages are affirmed and extended.
Statement of aims and commitment
The academy is committed to:
- offer a broad and ambitious curriculum to all multilingual students
- ensure that full academic potential is realised for all students and is not limited to being based on the students’ level of English
- encourage the development of the learners’ first and home languages
- support multilingual learners who are new to English through planned sessions focusing on the functional as well as curriculum based language
- promote and develop the families’ agency to support their children’s learning
- to ensure that all staff engage with high-quality professional development to enhance their knowledge of language pedagogy and hone their skills for teaching multilingual learners
- to affirm, extend and celebrate multilingual skills and promote linguistic diversity amongst all students
The students at Trinity Academy Leeds speak over 50 different languages. 70% of 720 students in Year 7, 8 & 9 are multilingual or EAL (English as an Additional Language) students. This is significantly higher than the national average of 20% in state-funded primary and secondary schools but in line with the linguistic diversity represented in the academy’s locality of Burmantofts and Harehills.
The academy uses the Government’s definition of EAL learners:
‘A pupil is recorded to have English as an additional language if they are exposed to a language at home that is known or believed to be other than English. This measure is not a measure of English language proficiency or a good proxy for recent immigration.’ (DfE Schools, Pupils and their Characteristics July 2020).
At Trinity Academy Leeds, however, we use the term ‘multilingual learners’ (MLs) because we believe it is more affirming and inclusive as opposed to the EAL initialism which very often focuses on students’ English language deficits while ignoring the strength of their native languages.
We use The Bell Foundation English Language Proficiency Scale to record a student’s level of English:
A: New to English
B: Early Acquisition
C: Developing Competence
A small group of 11 students in KS3 have been identified as students who are New to English or at the Early Acquisition level. Time-limited and purpose-specific interventions are offered to these learners. These sessions are linked to mainstream classes, focused on the students’ acceleration of language acquisition and further development of their subject knowledge. Additionally, approximately 100 students in Year 7, 8 and 9 have been identified as learners requiring ongoing support to access mainstream curriculum. We do recognise that a student’s language is in continuous development. We provide systematic and effective language development opportunities for all students through a language-aware curriculum.
We also offer an Induction Programme to all students who join the academy throughout the academic year.
Key principles for second language acquisition
At Trinity Academy Leeds multilingual students are fully integrated into the life of the academy. All multilingual students, regardless of their level of English, benefit socially, educationally and linguistically from being engaged in all that the school has to offer. This is exemplified in all students attending Involve twice a week (co-curricular clubs), 5 Empower trips a year (a bespoke career pathway) and having multiple opportunities to participate in sports and performing arts clubs.
We believe that multilingual students should attend mainstream lessons during which the tasks are designed to develop the students’ knowledge and language. Mainstream lessons provide a language-rich environment where the language is presented and practised in a purposeful and meaningful manner. The language demands of each task are identified and planned for so that language development is systematic and happens in all curriculum areas. All curriculum areas are an ideal platform to practise all four skills of speaking, listening, reading and writing.
EAL teaching and learning
Our bookletised curriculum allows for proactive and adaptive planning to continually support language development within content areas. Booklets are co-planned with the Curriculum Leader for Multilingual Learners so that the key vocabulary is amplified, language functions are made explicit and content is made accessible.
The Curriculum Leader of Multilingual Learners provides day to day support and collaborates with individual departments and teachers so that all multilingual students can access mainstream lessons and develop their academic knowledge as well as English language proficiency. Regular, evidence-based training sessions are offered to all staff with the view of developing successful and sustainable pedagogy for all multilingual learners. Each faculty area has a representative who meets with the Curriculum Leaders of Multilingual Learners each fortnight to review the sustainability of learning and curriculum for MLs.
Teachers are skilled and are employing a vast array of strategies which allow access to the mainstream curriculum, such as but not limited to:
- Explicit vocabulary instruction (above)
- Using full sentences when providing answers
- Use of visuals to reinforce meaning
- Use of graphic organisers to plan extended talk and writing
- Structured talk and oral rehearsals
- Reading aloud to students
- Think alouds and modelling writing
- Focus on root words and suffixes
- Use of sentence stems and frames to model speaking and writing