Matt Bennett – Senior School Assistant Head (Learning and Teaching)

POST BY:   Matt Bennett – Senior School Assistant Head (Learning and Teaching) – explaining how the TESMC course is improving experiences for all students at BSN Senior School.

One of our great strengths at The BSN is the multinational make up of our student population. However, with over 80 different nationalities across our schools, ensuring our teachers have the skills to meet the needs of all our EAL (English as an Additional Language) learners requires constant upskilling of our staff.

To enable this support to be provided to learners, for the past 6 years the Senior School has been offering it’s teachers the opportunity to participate in the TESMC (Teaching ESL students in Mainstream Classrooms) qualification and this year I am one of the course participants.

It’s never too late to upskill as a professional, whatever your experience or role in the school and The BSN places significant value on CPL (Continued Professional Learning) for its staff and this value extends to our commitment to EAL learners. Malcolm Hebden (Head of Learning Support Faculty and TESMC course tutor) stressed this to me when I joined the school; providing support for EAL learners is the responsibility of all our teachers not just the EAL department. Providing support for our EAL students is a key organisational aim of The BSN and this course goes a long way in providing this support for our students.

So now 6 months into the course it’s a great time to reflect back on what I have learnt so far and how my practice has changed as a result.

Day one of the course saw Malcolm Hebden, during discussion on how to use joint construction in writing tasks, saying something along the lines of “Good EAL teaching is actually good teaching. This practice will benefit all students, not just the EAL learners”. Something that has been reinforced time and time again during our sessions with both Malcolm and Deborah Duman (Deputy Head of Learning Support Faculty and TESMC tutor).

Now six months into the course this has probably been my biggest realisation. Writing frameworks (providing students with a structure to frame an essay answer), co-constructing answers (building an answer sentence by sentence with the class) and using listening grids (to support oral tasks) are becoming more and more embedded into my practice to the benefit of all learners.

We have seen significant changes to examinations courses over the past two years, with many subjects now facing increased emphasis on the ability of students to produce longer essay style answers (Even my own subject, GCSE PE, now requires answers to 9-mark essay questions in each of the two exams sat at the end of Year 11). The skills I am developing in the TESMC course are enabling all students in my class to benefit from my upskilling as a teacher, not just my EAL students.

I look forward to the next stage of the course, the impact it will have on my practice and the improved outcomes of all of my students. Good EAL teaching is good teaching for all.