MyCollege Logo

The impact of school closure on pupils with EAL

Pupils with English as an additional language (EAL) attract a great deal of interest among policymakers, school leaders, and teachers, yet there are relatively few studies that have examined EAL attainment and the impact of Covid-19. This issue is increasingly important for EAL policy development, given that the data shows the percentage of pupils recorded as speaking English as an additional language has more than trebled since 1997 and is about 19% of the school population. 

There is also now research evidence that school closures have meant that EAL learners may not have had access to models of good English language and EAL pedagogy and sufficient opportunities to rehearse and practice speaking in English, particularly in the key language areas of listening, speaking, reading, and writing. This directly impacts their access to curriculum learning and further delays their educational progress compared to their non-EAL peers. The aim of the research is to study the impact of Covid-19 and school closures on EAL learners. The methodological approach for this research comprises a range of surveys including: 

  • School leadership survey 
  • Teaching staff survey 
  • Pupil survey
  • Parent Survey 

The main findings of the surveys confirm Covid-19 has created significant disruption to EAL learners’ education and suggests that they are being increasingly left behind their peers, not only in developing English proficiency but also in closing the achievement gap. It suggests that the Covid-19 pandemic has had a significant negative impact on EAL learners relative to their peers.  The main reasons for the negative impact and the widening achievement gap between EAL pupils and their peers include: 

  • less support in improving English proficiency during lockdown 
  • missing access to small group lessons and one-to-one support in school 
  • less access to technology for online learning 
  • lack of parent English language skills to support learning at home 

In this webinar, we present the findings of the survey and the key message for policymakers and school practitioners to support EAL pupils.

Professor Feyisa Demie (Head of Research)  will introduce the research and the key findings of the leadership survey.

Amanda Bellsham-Revell (EAL  Consultant) will share the findings of the teacher’s survey and some of the good practices to support EAL  pupils.

Cordelia Cooper (Wyvil Deputy Head and current Interim Headteacher at Ashmole School) – will share good practices at Wyvil Primary School to support EAL pupils during the school closures.


Our Presenters

Professor Feyisa Demie, Head of Research in Lambeth LA and Honorary Professor at Durham University

Feyisa Demie (FRSA) is an Honorary Professor at Durham University School of Education and is the head of research and adviser for school self-evaluation at Lambeth local education authority.  He has worked extensively with Local Authorities, government departments, schools, and school governors for over 27 years in the use of data and research to raise achievement.  As an education adviser he works with schools covering all phases of assessment, from foundation stage, KS1, KS2 to GCSE. He also runs school-focused training programmes and annual national school improvement conferences at the UCL Institute of Education to support school self-evaluation for headteachers, teachers, governors, and policymakers.  With longstanding research interests on what works in raising achievement in schools and equity issues in education, he has written a number of books, research reports and peer-reviewed articles on school improvement, ethnicity, English as an additional language, school exclusions, disadvantaged students, and diversity in the teaching workforce.

For details of his research and publications see and


Amanda Bellsham-Revell, Education Consultant specialising in EAL (Lambeth LA)

Amanda Bellsham–Revell is currently an independent education consultant and specialist in the field of English as an Additional Language. She has extensive and varied experience of supporting schools to develop effective practice to raise the achievement of children who are learning EAL. Currently she is working on a research project focusing on the impact of the pandemic on EAL learners, to be followed by identifying effective school practice for EAL learners, this builds upon earlier research in Lambeth schools.  Previous posts include Consultant for Ethnic Minority Achievement (EYFS/Primary) in both Lambeth and Southwark and teaching Year 11/12 pupils on the Academic English programme at King’s College, London. This follows 25 years teaching experience, including 13 years in a range of posts in the EAL field, working in the EYFS and primary phases.  In addition, she has designed courses and delivered training for a range of organisations and authorities and written for NALDIC (National Association for Language Development in the Curriculum).  Her qualifications include an MA in Language and Learning in Multilingual Schools.

Cordelia Cooper, Acting Headteacher – Ashmole Primary School / Deputy Headteacher – Wyvil Primary School

Cordelia has worked in Lambeth education for 15 years and has held a range of teaching and leadership positions during that time, including the role of Deputy Headteacher at Wyvil Primary School, which included leading the expansion of two SEND Resource Bases. Cordelia is committed to the creation of an engaging and motivating curriculum for children, that nurtures a wide range of talents, interests and abilities​. Cordelia has worked across London securing school improvement through growing leadership capacity at all levels and also co-leads on the NPQSL programme in London and Plymouth. Cordelia is a Trustee for the Oval Learning Cluster and most recently, has also been on the steering group for Lambeth’s Somos Lambeth programme: focussing on raising the attainment of Portuguese speakers in Lambeth. 

Her qualifications include an MA in Primary Education (Policy & Practice), a Post Graduate Certificate in Autism and is currently undertaking a working research project on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion with members of the Wyvern Senior Leadership Team. Cordelia will share examples of good practice that took place at Wyvil Primary School to support EAL pupils during the school closures.

Dr Yvonne Foley is a Senior lecturer at the University of Edinburgh where she teaches on PGDE Secondary, MSc Language Education, MA Primary Education with Gaelic and MSc TESOL.  Yvonne is also a member of the NALDIC Executive.

Dr Lisa-Maria Muller, Education Research Manager, Chartered College of Teaching

Dr Lisa-Maria Muller works on linking research and practice. She leads on the College’s research work, manages content for the member platform MyCollege and runs the Science Teacher Journal Club project. Before joining the Chartered College of Teaching, Lisa-Maria worked as a postdoctoral research associate at the Universities of Cambridge and York on two projects relating to foreign language learning.  At the University of Cambridge, she was also a member of the Cambridge Bilingualism Network and contributed to research and outreach work on multilingualism which included studying the effects of a bilingual education on children’s literacy development, the co-organisation of stakeholder workshops and the co-development of a resource pack for antenatal teachers. In her PhD thesis Lisa-Maria investigated the similarities and differences between typically developing multilingualism and multilingual language disorders. She is a qualified teacher and has worked in secondary schools in Austria and England.

Chartered Status is growing. Due to its popularity, the Chartered College of Teaching is providing more opportunities to be recognised for your expertise by becoming Chartered. 

You need to be logged in to view this video