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A little more conversation?

Schools might be getting better at assisting EAL students, but as a nation we are getting worse at helping their families speak English. Stephen Exley investigates the scandal of our failure to establish a whole-family approach to EAL, with potentially devastating effects for young people

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It was 1.30am when Elena Kaloyanova arrived at The Sheffield College. The deserted street, she says, was “dark and scary”.

By 4am, however, a small crowd had gathered. Now, at 6am, hundreds of people are waiting.

Volunteers push a trolley along the queue, serving free teas and coffees. For the children waiting patiently with their parents, sweets are handed out along with chalk so they can draw on the pavements.

“These are just little things, but it makes it welcoming,” explains Steve Kelly, the college’s head of student services. “This can’t be yet another form-filling exercise for people ...

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