Next step for plan to teach English as second tongue at Leeds school

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EVERY teacher at a Leeds school has been trained to teach English as an additional language to all its pupils – even the native English speakers.

City of Leeds School attracted national publicity earlier this year with its radical plans to raise standards by delivering extra English lessons as a foreign language.

The school in Woodhouse, which will be renamed Leeds City Academy from September, has less than a quarter of pupils with English as a first language and the majority have arrived in the country in the last four years.

Now a plan has been drawn up to teach English as a foreign language through an extra lesson every week. Teachers in all subjects have been given training to deliver the language classes, and pupils will be split into ability groups.

Headteacher Georgiana Sale said: “It will be done in groups who will be in stages not ages, so you might have a pupil in year seven alongside someone in their GCSE year if their ability to speak and read English is the same.”

Ms Sale said the solution had been developed because of the proportion of pupils at the inner city school who are new to the language. But the decision was taken to extend this to all children in the school in order to help improve performance. Last year, just over a quarter of pupils achieved the benchmark of five good GCSEs, including English and maths – one of the lowest scores of any state school in Yorkshire. Ms Sale maintained it was unfair to expect the school to reach national averages in English when so many pupils are new to the language.

“As far as I am aware there is nothing like this which has been done before, so we have had to write all the material and do the training ourselves - with the help of Leeds Metropolitan University,” she said. “One of the things which is nice about this is that the whole school is involved, from the woodwork teacher to the school chef, who is going to come in and help as an assistant. It will help us to get the message across to everyone that learning English is vitally important.”

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