English as an Additional Language, Proficiency in English and pupils’ educational achievement

Previous research by Professor Steve Strand (2015) concluded the English as an Additional Language (EAL) measure in the England National Pupil Database (NPD) was inadequate because it did not assess the key factor that influenced EAL pupil’s educational achievement, namely their proficiency in the English language. As a direct result, the Department for Education announced on 4 May 2016 that all schools in England would be required to assess any pupils recorded as EAL for their proficiency in English. Following an initial pilot, information on the proficiency in English of pupils with EAL was required from January 2017 School Census.

This new research project, co-funded by The Bell Foundation and Unbound Philanthropy, will undertake the first large scale analysis of the Proficiency in English data. Several partner Local Authorities are sharing their data so we can explore the relation between Proficiency in English and pupils’ achievement at age 5, 7, 11 and 16 years of age.

While the Proficiency in English scale is new in England it has been employed and collected in the census in Wales since 2009. The project will also analyse the Welsh data at pupil level to determine the relationships with educational achievement and to evaluate the rate at which pupils’ develop their proficiency in English over time and variables associated with this rate.