Before placing a child on the SEN register, please bear in mind the following:
'A child should not be regarded as having a learning difficulty because the language or form of language of the home is different from the language in which he or she is or will be taught.' The Education Act (1993),section 156.
Lack of English should not be equated with lack of knowledge, skill or understanding. Bilingual learners are no more likely to have special educational needs (SEN) than any other pupil.
Bilingual learners acquire social, conversational English quickly so it is important that teachers are not misled by pupils' surface fluency. Some pupils, however, take a long time before they feel confident enough to participate actively in classroom activities and use the English they have learned. A 'silent period' is natural and should not be construed as the child having learning difficulties. Lack of progress may be due to the abstract nature of tasks rather than underlying learning difficulties.
The following should be considered:
Monitoring the pupil during their first term is crucial. Most bilingual children do settle well into their new school but a few children may not respond to the strategies outlined for the silent period; such children are sometimes referred to as 'selectively mute'. This condition may have serious academic, social and emotional repercussions so further advice on 'selective mutism' should be sought.
c/o Aldworth Science College
Western Way, Basingstoke
telephone: 01256 330195
fax: 01256 353459