Guidance on the use of EMTAS Assistants and support for more advanced learners in schools

Bilingual Assistants and first language support

Not all pupils for whom English is an additional language will require bilingual support. Some may have been born in the UK and have Iived here all their lives but speak or have access to another language at home. Others may have come to live in the UK when they were very young and have had several years' education here. Often, pupils such as these have oracy skills commensurate with their monolingual, English-only peers and do not need bilingual support in order to access the curriculum.

EMTAS Bilingual Assistants are best deployed to support pupils who are in the early stages of acquiring English and families who need first language support e.g. at parents' evenings or other important meetings. Some newly-arrived pupils will have had access to English medium education in country of origin: these pupils should be referred as New Arrivals and will be profiled by EMTAS staff but may not need bilingual support to access the curriculum in their new UK classroom.  There may still be a need for other forms of support for this group of new arrivals, e.g. through mentoring. The EMTAS New Arrival Ambassador Scheme is a peer-mentoring programme that provides additional support to pupils who are joining a school part way through the year for example Looked After Children, Travellers or pupils new to the area.  

Traveller Teaching Assistants

EMTAS Traveller Teaching Assistants (TTA) are deployed to deliver in-class, one-to-one academic support to an individual pupil in the educational setting under the professional direction and supervision of a qualified teacher. However, on occasions the TTA may undertake support with a group should the need arise. One-to-one support may also involve the pupil leaving the classroom to work with the TTA in another area of the school.

Whilst the TTA has considerable knowledge and understanding of the Traveller community, their role is solely to provide individual pupil or group in-school support in accordance with what has been agreed with the pupil’s teacher. If school has identified other issues such as poor attendance, poor behaviour or family engagement difficulties, EMTAS has other specialists in these fields that can assist you. Contact the Traveller phone line  to discuss such issues and access advice on supporting the Traveller community more generally.

Support for more advanced learners of English as an additional language

Schools can access training through EMTAS on meeting the needs of more advanced learners of English as an additional language. See Supporting advanced learners of English as an additional language  for more information on this group of EAL learners.

For some bilingual pupils with secure first language skills, there is the option of taking a GCSE in their heritage language. Contact Rekha Gupta to discuss this: Note that not all languages are available at GCSE.

Where there are concerns about a pupil's progress over time, schools should use the EMTAS EAL/SEN phone line in the first instance to discuss concerns and get advice.