EAL Teacher Planning in Ireland

This blog post will outline what written planning and preparation is needed for English as an Additional Language teaching in Ireland, as well as hi-lighting the relevant documents to look at and showing where you can find resources.

How does EAL teaching work under the revised SET allocation model?

As part of the revised SET allocation process, circular 0013/2017 set out how there is now one post called a SET (special education teacher) who works with ALL pupils needing additional support, including those needing support for learning needs, emotional/ behavioural/ other needs, and EAL. This means that many SET teachers now have children on their caseload who have diagnosed SEN, other children with no formal diagnosis of SEN, and other pupils with EAL.

In some schools where there are very high numbers of pupils requiring EAL support (at least 20% of the total enrolment of the school is made up of pupils that require EAL support i.e. pupils with less than B1 proficiency) an appeal can be made by the school for additional EAL teaching posts and these teachers work to support the children with EAL in the school, so would only have pupils with EAL on their caseload. 

Where can I find the relevant documents and publications?

The NCCA used to have a page on their website dedicated to EAL in primary schools, but it seems to have been taken down in 2023. Fortunately the IPPN have a document with links to the relevant resources and documents here. Although the bad news is that most of the guidance and resources are quite old!

 

 

 

 

What resources will I use?

SET/ EAL teachers should assess children using the Primary School Assessment Kit (PSAK). This is available at the link from the IPPN website above,

Once you have administered the PSAK, you will know what level of language proficiency the children are on, and you can begin teaching using the “Up and Away” EAL curriculum.

     

The NCCA EAL website also provides a workbook called “My First English Book” for children in Junior & Senior Infants. It is fairly basic and I have found in the past that I needed to supplement it with additional/ more relevant worksheets. For First Class upwards, there is a European Language Portfolio.

   

What are the requirements for EAL teachers written preparation/ planning?

As you will read below, there is a requirement for teachers to assess EAL pupils and to have recorded preparation, however there is no one, up to date document or circular on written preparation for EAL. 

Circular 0015/2009 is the most recent circular from the Department of Education relating specifically to EAL. It outlines the role of the language support teacher as follows:

“EAL support teachers are appointed to assist schools in providing additional EAL support teaching for pupils. The EAL pupil remains the responsibility of the mainstream class teacher at primary level and the subject specialist teachers at post primary level who will work closely with the EAL support teachers. In collaboration with parents and mainstream class teachers, EAL support teachers
identify pupils requiring additional language support, assess pupils’ proficiency in English using the assessment materials, devise appropriate language programmes, deliver the programmes and record and monitor pupils’ progress.”

While the role of the EAL/ language support teacher is now encompassed in the position of SET teacher as per circular 0013/2017, this circular did not state that circular 0015/2009 was being replaced, so the requirement to assess and plan for EAL pupils remains. 

The NCCA also have 70-page guidelines (pictured) for teachers here which were published in 2006. There is a section in the document that covers “school planning and classroom planning” but it is very broad and doesn’t provide any guidance on what written preparation is needed.

The 2021 Guidance on Preparation for Teaching and Learning says that written preparation should refer directly to the curriculum, include the focus of learning for the children and what their learning experiences will be, and specify how the learning will be demonstrated i.e. assessment. It specifies long term recorded preparation, short term recorded preparation, and the cuntas mĂ­osĂșil as the written preparation/ planning that needs to be done.

Is there any guidance on EAL planning and preparation?

There is nothing specific to EAL teacher planning on the NIPT website.

The inspectorate produced a report on EAL in primary schools in 2008 and they said the following:

 

Integrate Ireland Language and Training have a sample 3-week outline of content to show what could be covered in a period here. However, it is more to demonstrate what sorts of activities could be covered, rather than giving guidance on how to do written preparation or planning.

So how do I do written preparation for EAL teaching?

The inspectorate report says that children need to have an individual language programme based on their assessed competencies. This is basically an EAL Individual Education Plan which is based on the Up and Away EAL Curriculum and the results of the children’s PSAK assessments. Each child will need an individual EAL long term plan for the year with unique aims, targets and vocab depending on which level they are on (A1, A2 or B1) in each of the skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing.

Each child in your school who will receive language support will need their own EAL IEP. However large schools, that have a very high percentage of children with EAL, this can mean you may need a separate plan for several hundred children. Doing plans for all of these children is extremely time consuming. Trust me, I have done it during my time as an EAL teacher!

Do you have any templates/ sample plans to help with this?

Yes! Teachingplans.ie has a unique, editable EAL Long term plan which has been designed to allow you to create EAL Individual Education Plans for all of the children in your school who receive language support quickly and easily. Using this plan, I have been able to create an EAL IEP with aims, targets and vocab to match a child’s individual PSAK results in under 1 minute! Filling out the individual pupil profile section, is the most time-consuming part of this plan, but even this can be done in less than 10 minutes if you have the information already to hand. So, using this template, will allow you to create EAL IEPS with aims, targets and vocabulary specific to each child’s profile of needs in under 10mintes per child!

How does your editable long term planning template work?

It is very common that child may be on different levels (A1 Breakthrough, A2 Waystage, or B1 Threshold) in each of the skill areas: Listening, Reading, Speaking and Writing. For example, they may be on level B1 in Listening, A1 in Reading, A2 in Speaking, and A1 in Writing. For this reason, a generic plan that has all 4 skills at A1 level may not be useful. This plan allows you to only keep the long-term aims and targets for the level the child is working at, as indicated by their PSAK result e.g. if they are at level B1 in Listening, then you delete the long term aims and targets for levels A1 and A2 in Listening. If they are at level A1 in Reading, then delete the long term aims and targets for levels A2 and B1 in Reading etc.

Furthermore, usually children with EAL only begin working on reading and writing skills from First Class onwards. Therefore, you may have some older children who need these skills included in their EAL long-term plan, and younger children who do not. For children in the infant classes, you can delete the reading and writing aims and targets and only keep the listening and speaking ones.

Finally, as children progress through their EAL instruction, they may reach the target level of B1.3 in some areas e.g. listening and speaking, but not in reading and writing. In this case, you will be creating a plan with only aims and targets relating to the areas where they have not reached the B1.3 level.

All of these scenarios, mean that you will need to create EAL plans that are slightly different for each child. I have created this template plan as the fastest way to be able to do this, as all of the content that you need is already included. So rather than having to copy and paste information into a new document which is very time consuming, you simply click and delete the sections in this plan that are not needed for that particular child.

Check out our demo on Instagram showing how quickly and easily an EAL plan with personalised targets and vocabulary can be created for each student using our EAL IEP.

What about short term planning?

For short term planning, a similar template to what is used for SET teachers works well, with additional headings added in to allow for the use of the Up and Away EAL Curriculum and the 2021 Guidance on Preparation for Teaching and Learning. We have a template and sample plan available here.

We also have editable EAL short term sample completed plans for the year available here. 

How can I do the cuntas mĂ­osĂșil?

A cuntas mĂ­osĂșl is simply a record of the work you have covered with your students for the previous month. The easiest way to do a cuntas mĂ­osĂșil is to tick or mark what you have covered on your short-term plans, and to write a short reflection. There is space on our EAL short term planning template for you to do this.

Are there any other resources/ supports available for EAL teachers?

There is an excellent podcast episode on EAL teaching from Anseo.net that you can listen to here. 

The English Language Support Teachers’ Association of Ireland also have a website and a Facebook page which offers support to Irish EAL teachers. 

12 thoughts on “EAL Teacher Planning in Ireland

  1. Claire McNerney says:

    This is all very useful. Thank you. Is there equivalent information for Post Primary please.. plans, templates etc.

    • Teaching Plans says:

      Thanks for your interest in my blog and I’m glad you found it helpful. I’m primary trained and based, so I don’t know much about PP to be honest, but when I was researching for this post, I didn’t see as much info about EAL in PP. For instance there is an equivalent of the PSAK for PP, but I didn’t come across a PP equivalent of the Up and Away Curriculum. Also the NCSE don’t seem to have a page for Post Primary EAL resources on their website like they do for primary. The PDST have a page, but it is very limited (https://www.pdst.ie/post-primary/literacy/eal). I think your best bet might be to contact ELSTA Ireland as they will have PP teacher members who might be best placed to offer any advice about resources and info they have found. Kind regards, Claire

  2. Laura says:

    Hello, how to apply for a job as an EAL teacher? Should we just send our CV to schools? Is a teaching number needed? Thanks

    • Teaching Plans says:

      Hi Laura,

      The job would be advertised through the normal channels, usually on educationposts.ie and you would apply as per the advertisement. That said, most often EAL jobs are a advertised as a SET position now as the new allocation model has meant that EAL teaching is usually encompassed into the role of a SET. You do need to have a teaching council number.

      Kind regards,

      Claire

  3. T says:

    Hi! Thank you for that great information! I’m just wondering how much time would you allocate to a child in Senior Infants per day and how many days a week? Thanking you in advance!

    • Teaching Plans says:

      Hi there. I’m delighted that you found the post useful.

      This depends mostly on what resources are available to your school i.e. how many SET teachers there are and how many children need support and at what level of the continuum. As per the new SET allocation model, the children with the greatest level of need should be getting the greatest level of support. Therefore, newcomer children with little to no English at A1 level should be prioritised over children at A2 and B1 level (it doesn’t matter what class they are in or their age). If your school has dedicated EAL teaching posts, it will be easier to timetable dedicated EAL support, but if not, the children with EAL will be on the caseload of a SET who also has children with literacy, numeracy, social, emotional needs etc. and all of the children’s needs will have to be taken into account in deciding where to allocate resources.
      When I taught in EAL, we had very high numbers and so our school has dedicated EAL teaching posts. Children at A1 level were taken for support daily. I took children at A2 level 3-4 times a week, and children at B1 level were twice per week. You can also do some in class support/ team teaching, but you must make sure that the children with EAL are being targeted, and that the children with the greatest language learning needs i.e. A1 level, are getting the most time and support. This can be tricky do do in a in-class support scenario, so some form of withdrawal is usually needed too.

      I hope that helps!

      Claire

  4. Joan says:

    Hi Claire,

    Thank you so much for all of the information and fabulous resources given, they are so helpful! I am working in a special school doing EAL and am just wondering if planning/lessons are the same as in your planning templates for SEN pupils?

    Also, how do I use the PSAK for assessment? I have found the document online but it is over 200 pages, is it available to purchase as a hard copy version anywhere or how do you use it? Do you print specific pages or print the whole thing? Thanks a million.

    Joan

    • Teaching Plans says:

      Hi Joan, thanks for your message. I’m delighted that you found the post helpful! Yes, in a special school the planning requirements are the same as for mainstream. They are outlined in the Department’s 2021 Guidance on Preparation for Teaching and Learning for All Primary and Special Schools which I have done a summary of here. I updated my sample EAL weekly plans for the year to include the new language from the guidance (focus of the learning, learning experiences) so they would be the ones to look to rather than my SET short term planning template (which is more appropriate for support for literacy/ numeracy/ social skills etc.).
      A hard copy of the PSAK was sent to schools in 2008 when it was published, so some schools would have a copy from then. You could try contacting the Department to see if they have any available that they could send you, but it was created by Integrate Ireland Language & Training which has since closed down, so they may not have one. In my school we had one hard copy but did end up having to print multiple copies ourselves as we have very high EAL numbers and more than one teacher was assessing at the same time so 1 copy wasn’t enough. You do also have to print out extra copies of specific pages that the children need to write on for their assessment (or you can laminate these specific pages and allow the children to write on them with whiteboard markers and then clean and re-use them). The instructions on how to administer and score the assessment are included in the PSAK book, but if you knew anyone who had done it before and could demonstrate doing the testing to you too it would be very helpful.

      Kind regards,

      Claire

  5. Deirdre says:

    Hi Joan, I started in an EAL just before Halloween and now have to work on my Student Support files. I am not really sure how to phrase the targets and how many should I include? This is a totally new role for me and I feel slightly daunted at the thought of working on these plans.

    Thank you.

    • Teaching Plans says:

      Hi Deirdre,

      In EAL your Student Support File contains an EAL IEP. The targets are based on Up and Away at the level that the children scored on the PSAK as per the Inspectorate’s advice detailed above. I have an EAL IEP here that has been designed so that it can be quickly personalised for each student based on their assessed level of English language competency. If you have a look at the preview picture’s for my editable plan, you will see that the targets come from the Up and Away Curriculum. In a SSP for a child with SEN, you would include 3-4 targets for the year. This doesn’t apply in the case of EAL as you are covering the Up and Away Curriculum and the targets are specified in it so you inlcude them all in the plan at the level the child is at (A1, A2 or B1).
      Depending on your school’s policy, you may decide to include a Log of Actions, or the other NEPS checklists in your Student Support File, but these are really geared toward helping to establish what is causing difficulties in the case of SEN (whereas you know what the case is in the case of EAL), so in my opinion doing them is a waste of time in EAL. We don’t do these checklists in my school for EAL children.
      I have been asked in the past if it is okay not to use the NEPS student support file for doing EAL planning, and the answer is absolutely! When the NEPS template was released it was accompanied by a note saying the following:
      “Many different types of support plans can be included in the support file. A support plan can take the form of a general plan for support, a behavioural plan or contract, an individual profile and learning programme, an individual educational plan or a personalised pupil plan” (page 11 of Guidelines for Primary Schools: Supporting Pupils with Special Educational Needs in Mainstream Schools). The 2021 Guidance on Preparation For Teaching and Learning for all Mainstream and Special Schools also says that “Recorded preparation is any documentation that supports teachers’ ongoing practice and reflection. This documentation can include short-term and long-term documentation, student support plans/ IEPs, assessment data …”.

      I hope that helps!
      Claire

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