The core concept in education in Great Britain is inclusion. As a result of high rates of immigration to UK, schools in Britain have had to adjust their teaching methodologies so as to satisfy the perpetual demand of students wanting to learn English as a second language. This fact is reinforced by statistics that show that there are 500,000 students taking English as a second language in the UK education system today (Barwell, 2004, p329). “The situation in Britain is referred to as EAL (English as an Additional Language), which takes priority in comparison to strategies such as teaching children with learning difficulties” (Brutt-Griffler & Varghese, 2004, p97). A major problem is interpreting whether the child learning EAL is bright but missing linguistic skills to be at par with their peers, or whether they are low achievers in any language (Walters, 2007, p87). Furthermore, in UK as opposed to other countries, children in the British system of education originate from numerous countries and languages. This means that teachers in UK in most cases are unprepared by the numerous languages and dialects that should be catered for.
A major campaign to cater for EAL students in Britain originated in 1997 with the Labour Party forming the government. There was promotion for education that encompasses all the needs of “the many, not the few” (Araújo, 2007, p241). The notion was strategized to satisfy the rising demands of EAL students as well as those with special education needs, and aims at enabling education become available to all who wanted the chance. Before, bilingual learners were prevented from joining normal schools until their English was up to standard, however, nowadays, EAL students join mainstream schools with minimum knowledge of English language (Brutt-Griffler & Varghese, 2004, p97). Success of EAL students in mainstream schools have been found to vary radically resulting to major research in Education and policy formation since 1970—Notably, the effect of EAL on underachievement in certain groups such as “African-Caribbean boys and Bangladeshi and Pakistani pupils” (Walters, 2007, p88). Conversely, the conclusion here is that it is only certain races who are suffering, and that language is of little consequence but the fault of cultural diversity and attitudes. For instance, an African student being taught by a white female teacher or a culture that takes a more laissez-faire approach to life.
EAL does not become a factor in the classroom only, but rather across a school mainly because of the technical language that some subjects use. In 1999, the OFSTED (Office for Standards in Education) reported that EAL students performed poorly in Maths, and despite this, little was being done understand the issue (Barwell, 2004, p329). The research by Richard Barwell (2004) looked into how EAL learners tackled arithmetic and word problems. After a long research, results proved that learners were able to work easier with word problems only if they would contextualize the words effectively (Barwell, 2004, p345). The suggestions of this recommendation are tangible hence proving that context and discussion is king. More significantly is that in placing EAL learners in classrooms containing learners, whose first language is English, EAL learners can be able to perform better through using context, and furthermore they would be able to gradually improve through socialization with their classmates.
A major problem affecting many schools in UK is that, as teachers try to implement inclusive strategies for EAL learners, the impacts of numerous languages cause poor school results and destroy their reputation. An example of such a school is Greenfield Comprehensive, who became Millhaven High after the Labour government initiative of ‘Fresh Start’ (Araújo, 2007, p242). The learning institution reported bad exam results, conduct, and attendance rates all of which were not helped by the school housing 30 different languages spoken daily (Araújo, 2007, p242). The consequence of this situation is that the school had no unity and teachers struggled to be understood. “Furthermore, the 30 or so students were not fully supported; 10 out of 14 EAL learners in lower ability sets obtained support as opposed to one of the 12 in higher sets” (Araújo, 2007, p252). The result was that while many educators felt that this advanced learners who needed it, it failed to permit them to advance at the same level as their classmates (Araújo, 2007, p253).
Recommendations from numerous researches indicate the possibility that in allowing EAL learners to develop themselves, educators would be actually encouraging a more liberal experience with English as a language, together with an ordinary approach to socialization and dialogue with their classmates. In the viewpoint of an educator, this is a scary idea, which means that EAL learners in classrooms may or may not be learning and developing. Many suggestions have been put forward on approaching EAL learners. A way specifically is to provide ample opportunities for learners to experience writing, reading, and English speaking the same way as a fluent speaker experiences. This would enable EAL students know how it is done while being liberal in learning English (Brutt-Griffler & Varghese, 2004, p98). Hence, inclusion in mainstream education signifies that EAL learners are usually left on their own mechanisms so as they formulate their own knowledge of English.