New EAL curriculum: school implementation guide

This guide suggests steps for teachers and school leaders implementing the new English as an Additional Language (EAL) curriculum.


About this guide

This guidance is for school leaders and individual teachers implementing the new EAL curriculum.

The steps in this guide are aligned with the FISO Improvement Cycle. They’re recommendations only, not requirements.

Planning and implementing the new EAL curriculum is a whole-school activity. Working collaboratively – supported by EAL teachers where available – will help schools plan and deliver teaching and learning that improves outcomes for their EAL students across all areas of the curriculum.

When preparing to put the new curriculum in place, schools could review:

  • their current EAL teaching programs against the EAL curriculum
  • how the EAL curriculum supports EAL students’ learning in all areas of the Victorian curriculum
  • how all teachers plan for and teach EAL students in their classes
  • what professional learning teachers may need to put the EAL curriculum in place.

Stage 1: evaluate and diagnose

When reviewing the existing curriculum to put the new EAL curriculum in place, you could consider:

  • how well your school is supporting EAL student learning
  • how aligned your school’s teaching and assessments are to the EAL curriculum.

The EAL curriculum describes the ‘what’ of teaching. Schools and teachers develop the ‘how’ in EAL teaching and learning programs. To do this effectively, it helps if you understand what EAL students need and what the EAL curriculum requires.

Actions may include:

  • assessing current student learning
  • understanding – or supporting teachers to understand – the new EAL curriculum
  • evaluating current EAL teaching and learning programs.

Assessing current student learning

Implementing a new curriculum has one purpose: improving student learning. You could start by assessing or analysing current EAL learning in your school or classes.

What does the available data say about the learning outcomes of EAL students?

For example:

  • Are EAL students progressing over time?
  • Are some EAL students, classes or cohorts progressing more quickly than others?
  • Is student progress consistent across the three language modes?
  • What are some areas of strength – and areas of development – for EAL students?
  • What level of growth would the school aim to see in its data? Would this vary for individual students or across the three language modes?
  • What does the data tell you about the effectiveness of your EAL programs?

Assess current EAL data

Look at any current EAL diagnostic assessments, formative assessments or summative assessments. These may be EAL-specific or mainstream assessments that EAL students complete.

If there is limited information on EAL student learning available:

  • prioritise collecting better assessment data that will support your teaching and learning program in Stage 2
  • review informal interactions with EAL students or examples of student work. Even with data from formal assessments, it’s important to use these other data points.

Where school leaders can find EAL data

School-level data about EAL student English language proficiency and learning growth is available from:

  • the Panorama dashboard – gives schools access to the Panorama School Dashboards, the School Information Portal and other performance reports
  • School Information Portal – two EAL student achievement reports by stage and mode reflect teacher judgements of student proficiency across modes
  • CASES21 report ST21905 – gives a history of teacher judgement data for individual EAL students for up to seven years.

Data coaching services can help you interpret and use school data.

Teachers may also have examples of student work and information from formative assessments or diagnostic assessments that you can use to understand learning progress.

If there is limited information on EAL student learning available, prioritise collecting assessment data in Stage 2.

Understanding the new EAL curriculum

To teach the curriculum effectively, teachers need to become familiar with it. School leaders can help teachers by making sure they have structured time and support.

The new EAL curriculum is accessible to all teachers, not just EAL specialists. It’s written in language that any teacher can understand. It supports teachers to build their knowledge of the curriculum content.

School leaders can involve the whole school in discussions about the EAL curriculum.

Teachers

You could set aside time upfront to become familiar with the EAL curriculum. This will save time when developing a teaching and learning program.

To become familiar with the new EAL curriculum, you could:

  • Read the EAL curriculum on the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA) website.
  • Refer to the EAL glossary when reading the EAL curriculum. Take note of any words or phrases needing clarification. The glossary of terms was created to help teachers have a shared understanding of different terms in the curriculum.
  • Read Getting to know the Victorian Curriculum F-10 EAL – it includes information and activities for teachers new to the EAL curriculum and for those familiar with the EAL Developmental Continuum. You can use it for individual reading and reflection or in team, staff or professional learning meetings.

School leaders

Reading the curriculum can help you support teachers with implementation. It includes information about EAL learning, EAL pathways and a glossary.

To make sure the curriculum is integrated into the school’s professional learning and conversations, you could create time for teachers to become familiar with the EAL curriculum. This might involve whole-school sessions or small group time in professional learning communities (PLCs). Talk to subject or generalist teachers about what would be most useful.

Getting to know the Victorian Curriculum F-10 EAL includes a range of materials for self-paced learning or for use in staff, curriculum or professional learning team meetings.

You could work with teachers to recognise what’s most important for your school about the new EAL curriculum. For example:

  • developing a teaching and learning program with this curriculum as its basis
  • integrating the new cultural and plurilingual awareness strand into your programs
  • teachers in all areas using the curriculum to support the learning of EAL students in their classrooms.

You could also talk to teachers about next steps. For example:

  • connecting EAL curriculum implementation with literacy work already in place – paying careful attention to the needs of EAL learners
  • supporting teachers to use key content descriptions from the EAL curriculum that could benefit all students in their mainstream classes
  • brainstorming explanations for the key content descriptions that suit your school setting and your EAL learners
  • giving opportunities for EAL specialists to support teams to understand the curriculum
  • reviewing the existing curriculum documents (whole school, year level, units of work or learning sequences) and identifying gaps between them and the new curriculum
  • making contact with schools with established programs, if your EAL program is new.

Evaluating current EAL teaching and learning programs

Two main questions to ask when evaluating current EAL teaching and learning programs are:

  • How well is the current EAL teaching and learning program differentiated to support EAL student learning?
  • How well is the current EAL teaching and learning program aligned to the new EAL curriculum?

Specialist EAL teachers

A specialist EAL teacher may act as the coordinator or leader of the school’s EAL teaching and learning program.

Consider what different assessments, teaching plans and supports are available across the school for different types of EAL student. Use your understanding of EAL student learning to analyse what’s working well and what you can improve.

  • Assessments: does your school have the right assessments in place to diagnose and understand EAL student learning across the different EAL pathways? Do they include useful tools for formative and summative assessment across the different language modes (speaking and listening, reading and viewing, and writing)? Does the school collect and monitor student assessment data and use this information to inform programming decisions?
  • Teaching plans: do the current documented teaching plans include units of work that align to the content descriptions in the EAL curriculum? Are the current teaching strategies working well for supporting EAL student learning? What’s the evidence for that?
  • Key shifts: how does the current teaching and learning program align with the key shifts in the new EAL curriculum? This includes development of cultural and plurilingual awareness and making sure the EAL curriculum provides a pathway into all learning areas.
  • Reporting: is there a process for reporting on EAL student learning?

Generalist primary school teachers

A primary teacher caters for students with different learning needs, including EAL students. Reflect on how you’re teaching EAL learners now. Consider what you might need to update in your teaching and learning program.

  • Assessments: what diagnostic assessment information do you collect about EAL students? Are tools for ongoing formative and summative assessment available? In what language modes (speaking and listening, reading and viewing, and writing) is there currently the most useful student learning data? What modes need more or better information?
  • Teaching plans: use the EAL curriculum together with all learning areas in the Victorian Curriculum. Look at the curriculum area plans as well as units of work. What are the EAL-specific teaching strategies included? How well do these cover the new EAL curriculum content descriptions in Pathway A or B? This depends on which pathway your EAL students are on. How well do the current EAL teaching strategies support EAL student learning?
  • Development of cultural and plurilingual awareness: do current teaching strategies emphasise the value of students’ home language or first language in supporting learning? The EAL curriculum highlights the importance of knowing EAL student learning histories and achievements in their first language and any additional languages, including English.

Secondary school subject teachers

Try using the EAL curriculum together with all learning areas in the Victorian Curriculum. This will support your understanding of the language students need so they can access the content of your learning area.

Taking time to review the new EAL curriculum may help. Consider the key content descriptions that apply most to the EAL students in your classes.

  • Assessments: is information available about who your EAL students are, what their pathways and levels are, and how these levels were diagnosed? What information is collected about student skills in the three language modes? Are assessments differentiated to meet the learning needs of EAL students?
  • Teaching plans: look at the curriculum area plans as well as units of work. What EAL-specific strategies do they include? How well do these cover the new EAL curriculum content descriptions in Pathway B or C? This depends on what pathway your EAL students are on. How well do your current EAL teaching strategies support EAL student learning? Is there a process for sharing successful EAL strategies within your team and whole staff?
  • Development of cultural and plurilingual awareness: do current teaching strategies emphasise the importance of students’ home language or first language? The EAL curriculum highlights the importance of knowing EAL student learning histories and achievements in their first language and any additional languages, including English.

School leaders

How well do the current EAL teaching and learning programs support EAL student learning?

  • Content: are current EAL teaching and learning programs aligned to the content descriptions of the new EAL curriculum? Do you need to edit, redraft or rewrite content, teaching or assessment strategies?
  • Assessment: do all teachers have diagnostic assessment information for EAL students, and tools for ongoing formative and summative assessment?
  • Pedagogy: are EAL teaching strategies used in all curriculum areas?
  • Reporting: is there a reporting process for EAL student learning?
  • Are EAL learners’ needs visible in whole school and year level curriculum and assessment plans? Is learning differentiated to meet their needs?
  • Who is currently involved in EAL curriculum planning? Should this change with the introduction of the new curriculum?
  • What’s the leadership and accountability structure overseeing EAL teaching? Should this change with the introduction of the new curriculum?
  • Is your current provision model the most appropriate to deliver the new curriculum?

Stage 2: prioritise and set goals

After completing the evaluation and diagnosis, you should have a better understanding of the current situation for EAL learners.

There may be things you want to change and improve while implementing the new EAL curriculum. Try prioritising the work that needs to happen first.

Assessment

Start here if Stage 1 identified that you need to improve EAL assessments. It may be difficult to create a teaching and learning program without the right assessments in place to understand student learning and next steps. These may be diagnostic, formative, or summative assessments.

Pedagogical knowledge

With the new curriculum, some teachers may have new responsibilities for EAL teaching. Other teachers may want to improve their knowledge on how to best support EAL students.

Teachers

Are there areas of your pedagogical knowledge to deepen to create a more effective teaching and learning program? You could set a goal for EAL student learning improvement to review later. Short, medium, and long-term goals are all appropriate.

School leaders

You could consider areas of teacher pedagogical knowledge your school could deepen to create a more effective teaching and learning program. What areas of teacher learning do you want to prioritise and develop?

Teaching plans

When planning an update to your teaching and learning program, what areas are most urgent? Consider the learning needs of EAL students in your classes with your analysis of the current plan’s alignment to the EAL curriculum. If there are many areas that don’t align, start with the areas that will support student learning the most.

Whole-school EAL approach

The new EAL curriculum is meant for all teachers. School leaders could consider how this changes the whole-school EAL approach. This may mean changing:

  • how teachers of EAL learners work together
  • who is involved in EAL planning
  • who has oversight of the EAL program.

Alignment to other school initiatives

School leaders could consider other school initiatives that may support parts of EAL curriculum implementation. These might be areas that can become quick wins, because there is already momentum.

For example:

  • if the school has recently implemented professional learning communities (PLCs), you could use these for teacher discussion of the new EAL curriculum
  • if the school has recently worked on developing formative assessments, teachers could consider what formative assessments are best to use for measuring student learning on EAL pathways.

Consider the most important changes. Set a goal for EAL student learning improvement to review at the end of the year. Short, medium, and long-term goals are appropriate.

Stage 3: develop and plan

Now that your school has priorities and goals, you can work on a plan to put them in place.

Teachers

Check the resources to support implementation of the new EAL curriculum. They help teachers to understand the new EAL curriculum and teach and assess EAL students.

You could translate your priorities and goals into plans, including:

  • What assessments do you need and when for diagnostic, formative, and summative information?
  • How do curriculum area plans, year level plans, and units of work need to change to align to the EAL curriculum and better support EAL learners?
  • What needs to change about reporting on EAL student learning?

School leaders

You could consider how to provide resources to support teachers in their development and planning. For example, time and expertise.

Resources to support the new EAL implementation are available. They support understanding of the new EAL curriculum, and teaching and assessing EAL students.

Principals and school leaders can drive the planning and implementation of whole-school EAL program changes. There may also be curriculum area or year-level changes that will be teacher led.

You could consider:

  • How much time do teachers need to develop and implement a new EAL teaching and learning program?
  • What do teachers need to know to be able to implement the curriculum? Do they have access to the right support materials and expertise?
  • How can the school make sure they have the right support?

Stage 4: implement and monitor

Schools can trial their new curriculum plans in 2020, before the new EAL curriculum is mandated in 2021.

The implement and monitor stage will last longer than the other stages.

There are two main questions to answer at this stage:

  • Is the updated teaching and learning program aligned to the EAL curriculum?
  • Are EAL students showing learning growth?

Teachers

Teachers will need to implement plans, monitor student learning and adjust plans in a continuous cycle.

You could plan for specific times of the year to:

  • review EAL teaching and learning programs
  • formally monitor EAL student learning and teaching against the curriculum.

Milestone dates can help you review progress formally and have discussions with other teachers.

School leaders

You'll need to trial new practices, monitor their effectiveness, adapt and do more trials over time.

Your role is to make sure the documented curriculum (what’s on paper) is also the enacted curriculum (what’s actually being taught in classrooms).

You can support teachers to enact plans by:

  • observing lessons informally
  • setting benchmark dates each year to formally review EAL student learning data and discuss curriculum details with teachers.

You could continuously monitor student learning throughout the school year. But milestone dates are helpful too, for formally reviewing progress and supporting open discussions with other leadership staff and teachers.

Resources for implementing the new EAL curriculum

We’re realigning and updating existing resources so that they continue to support the new curriculum.

Find resources for implementing the new curriculum for EAL.