This themed collection is designed for teaching assistants on the theme of supporting students with English as an Additional Language (EAL). A themed collection brings together a range of useful resources on a specific topic to support practitioners deepen their knowledge in this area and shape their own professional learning. These collections can also be used to inform collegues’ professional development as well as school policy and practice.

This collection is part of a series to support teaching assistants (TAs) with their professional learning. They are designed to develop knowledge around a range of topics relevant to TAs.

These topics include:


These collections incorporate a range of content types to support professional learning and reflective practice, including:


Whilst much of the content is from the perspective of researchers, school leaders and teachers, it is both useful and relevant to TAs. Moving forward, we would like to expand our knowledge base by including voices and expertise of TAs. 

Supporting students with English as an additional language (EAL)

The term ‘EAL’ is used to describe a diverse group of students who speak English as an additional language. In England, students with EAL are defined as those who are ‘exposed to a language at home that is known or believed to be other than English’ (DfE, 2022). The term ‘EAL’ can therefore be applied to students who are new to English but also include those who are fluent. In England, the number of students with EAL is steadily increasing. In the 2021/2022 school census, almost a fifth of students attending state-funded schools spoke English as an additional language (DfE, 2022). This suggests that there is an increasing need for high-quality training and resources to address the needs of this diverse group of students. 

Studies continue to highlight that proficiency in English is the best indicator of future academic success (Strand & Lindorff, 2021). However, addressing the needs of students from a diverse range of cultural and linguistic backgrounds, with different abilities and proficiencies in English poses a significant challenge. This challenge is argued to be compounded by a lack of funding and a deficit in specialist knowledge in mainstream settings (Hutchinson, 2018). With numbers of students steadily increasing and a lack of resources and funding, in recent years, teaching assistants are more frequently tasked with supporting children and adolescents with EAL (Clifford-Swann et al., 2021). Consequently, this unit seeks to support teaching assistants by developing their knowledge of the current context and provide the tools to identify and address the needs of this diverse group of students.

Moving forward, we hope to build on this knowledge base by drawing on the experience and expertise of TAs supporting students with EAL. We invite you to use the attached padlet to begin sharing your reflections, experiences and expertise to support other teaching assistants with their professional learning.



Clifford-Swann J, Heslop K and Ranson F (2021) ‘Investigating the impact of a specialist CPD training programme for Teaching Assistants, related to supporting children with English as an Additional Language’, Work Based Learning e-Journal International. 10.1 (2021): 1-34. Available at: (accessed 31 October 2022).

Department of Education (DfE) (2022) School Workforce in England. Available at: ​​ (accessed 31 October 2022).

Hutchinson J (2018) Educational Outcomes of Children with English as an Additional Language. Education Policy Institute. Available at: (accessed 31 October 2022).

Strand S and Lindorff A (2021) English as an Additional Language, Proficiency in English and rate of progression: Pupil, school and LA variation. The Bell Foundation & Oxford University. Available at:  (accessed 31 October 2022).