Polish children and their primary school teachers: research from Dr Naomi Flynn of the IoE

Dr Naomi Flynn is currently engaged in a follow-up to her study of Polish children in Hampshire schools that was conducted when Polish migration to England was a relatively new phenomenon.

Dr Naomi Flynn

In her earlier study Naomi interviewed teachers in Hampshire schools, between 2007 and 2009, that were admitting Polish children but which were in areas not accustomed to teaching children from whom English is an additional language (EAL). Interviews focused on how teachers adapt their pedagogy for their EAL learners, and findings threw light on the way in which a monolingual curriculum and assessment system can work against teachers’ capacity to make adaptations.

In her current study – funded by Reading University’s Centre for Literacy and Multilingualism (CeLM) – Naomi interviewed teachers, children and their parents in Hampshire schools with high numbers of Polish children, to assess whether her earlier findings still hold. Outcomes suggest that teachers are growing in their understanding of effective teaching for EAL, but that Polish children’s identities are very fluid between home and school.

“Gathering the views of children and their parents, as well as their teachers, was particularly interesting,” says Naomi, who teaches Reading IoE’s trainee teachers about EAL teaching and learning.

“The differences between teachers’ and parents’ perceptions of their children’s English language acquisition, and the realities for their children, were often starkly contrasting.”

Naomi will present findings from her project in July, to Hampshire teachers, at a conference run by Hampshire’s Ethnic Minority Traveller and Achievement Service, and at a conference on EAL for academics at St John’s College, Oxford, in September, which has been organised by her IoE colleague Dr Holly Joseph.