EMAG teacher: a way to make a difference

What’s EMAG?
EMAG is an ethnic minority achievement grant teacher who specialises in helping children who have English as an additional language.

Why did you become an EMAG teacher?
I became an EMAG teacher a year ago because I enjoy teaching literacy and my experience of working at Argyle has shown me the importance of using EAL strategies to overcome barriers to learning. When the right resources are used in the right way, children really make good progress not only with their learning of English, but also their knowledge and skills across the curriculum.

What were you doing before?
Before becoming EMAG coordinator, I was a year 2 teacher and before that I was based in early years. I think that working with nursery children just as they are starting school really gave me an insight to different children’s starting points, and this has helped me, especially when new children join the school throughout the year.

What does your role involve?
My role involves welcoming new arrivals to the school, working with class teachers and teaching assistants to ensure that we plan effectively for children with English as an additional language. I currently have a parents group that involves parents working alongside their children, supporting them with speaking and listening in their home language, and completing writing activities to develop writing skills across the curriculum.

What are the challenges?
The biggest difficulty is not having the time to be able to share ideas and resources with all staff.  I overcome this is by prioritising and meeting people when I can.  It is not perfect and I would like to have more opportunities to develop our EMAG provision in school, especially for new teachers.

What’s been a highlight so far?
One of the most delightful moments of my job was when a year 2 boy who came to the school with very little English stood up in front of the whole class to explain how he had solved a problem in maths. The fact that he now used the language appropriately meant that his understanding of maths had improved greatly and would continue to do so.

Who could consider becoming an EMAG teacher?
I think anyone who came into teaching to make a difference should think about becoming an EMAG teacher because it is one of the areas where you can really see progress both long and short term.  While there may be lots of talk about targets, it is good to remember children’s achievements and not get too concerned about levels.  It is really refreshing to think I have helped  children not only get a level 2A, but I have helped them to learn English and use it academically, which means that now anything is possible.


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