Support & welfare
Without our international students, we would not be the school that we are. Ours is a thoughtful community, which values its cultural diversity.
Our international students make up 20% of our student body, and are currently from 13 different countries across the world. Their presence is a stimulus throughout the school. Our learner profile, which defines the character we encourage in our pupils, includes being ‘aware’ because, amongst other things, we want to encourage the awareness of different cultures. With ‘respect’ as a core value, bilingualism and multilingualism are also valued in all students which puts everyone on an equal footing as language learners.
Our EAL pupils have had a variety of experience of learning in English before they arrive. Many come in order to prepare for study in English-speaking universities, others are seeking an English education from a younger age but whatever their needs, they are addressed in a personalised way. We have an induction programme for all new international students at the beginning of the school year to help them prepare for their studies and they sit an Oxford Placement Test to ascertain their level of English, so their support can be planned.
Where necessary, sixth formers (students in Years 12 & 13) are given time to prepare for the IELTS qualification and the school arranges for them to be entered for the examination. Year 10 and Year 11 students on the other hand are prepared for the IGCSE English as a second language examination over a two-year course, whereas the younger students are integrated into mainstream English lessons. These EAL lessons in Years 10 and 11 are the only time international students are taught on their own as a group, giving them the chance to gain confidence in both their written and spoken English, as well as provide a scaffolding for language learning. Should SEND or Gifted & Talented needs be identified, then EAL pupils have equal access to the school’s provision.
Developing independence and self-confidence is central to the school’s mission of preparing young people for the challenge of the adult world. For the EAL department, this means students acquiring and using language confidently. They have a right to access all parts of the curriculum without disadvantage, and their teachers therefore have a responsibility for teaching English as well as other subject content. There’s an unexpected spin off! With a focus on language and its meaning, all students benefit – not just those with EAL needs.
Every opportunity is taken to acquire and use English. By dividing our EAL students among the seven boarding houses, they are encouraged to interact with English-speaking students and to integrate fully into school life. However, their “mother tongue” is also central to identity and cognitive development. Students are therefore encouraged to maintain their home language and use it in the school environment wherever possible. We also regularly hold international evenings and show films in different languages.