Blackburn ELS has well developed and resourced programs of instruction that are both age and English language level appropriate. Programs are developed by highly qualified and experienced teachers and undergo regular review and modification to ensure they are meeting the changing needs of all learner groups.
The English as an Additional Language (EAL) Curriculum is central to the school’s program development and its core focus on students building their capacity to communicate confidently and effectively in English is evident in all the school’s programs.
The school’s programs are designed to strengthen students’ rate of acquisition of the English language and enable active participation in their learning. Programs focus on supporting students’ capacity to use and adapt language according to school-based subjects and other specific learning contexts.
The school’s programs support students to build relationships with their classmates, teachers and the wider community, empowering them to be confident and optimistic learners. Our programs are designed to equip students with the skills to become lifelong learners, critical thinkers, and active and informed citizens. Through targeted programs students develop English language competence in speaking and listening, reading and writing and are provided with a range of opportunities and challenges to expand their English language knowledge and skill.
Students are regularly assessed in two specific areas:
Teachers use the EAL Reporting Resource to identify each students’ English language level and to plan for effective learning programs that target student need. The EAL Reporting Resource is a comprehensive assessment tool that provides evidence-based indicators of progress. Student reports are provided to parents/carers and describe each student’s English language and learning progress.
When placing a student in a class, consideration is given to the student’s age and sometimes their English language level. Teachers regularly review student placements resulting in some students changing classes throughout their stay. Class sizes are small with a maximum of 14 students. This ensures that students are offered a program that supports their individual learning needs.
Primary students learn English through the study of a range of different subjects. These include:
The focus in each of these areas is on developing the English language required to study these subjects successfully. Throughout their program, students learn the language, knowledge and skills related to integrated topics such as Animals, Australia, Beach, Body, Clothes, Family, Farm, Minibeasts, Solar System and Sustainability. They also learn about the language structures and features of genres common in Australian schools including procedures, descriptions, recounts, narratives, explanations, information reports and persuasive texts.
All students take part in a take-home reading program. This involves students borrowing books on a daily basis to read aloud at home, which are specifically suited to their individual reading level. Students also have the opportunity to borrow books from the school library. Students are sometimes provided with other homework tasks depending on their individual needs (e.g. phonics or sight word practice, handwriting and spelling). Teachers will often advise parents/guardians about the various ways they can support their child’s English language learning at home.
Incursions and excursions provide valuable English language learning experiences for all students. Excursions are a planned and important part of the curriculum and all students are expected to fully participate. When an excursion is being organised, detailed notices will be sent home to inform parents and guardians.
Incursions may include visits from special visitors such as the Firefighters, St John’s Ambulance and RACV Road Safety.
Excursions are relevant to the integrated topic being taught each term and may include trips to Melbourne Zoo, Healesville Sanctuary, Scienceworks, the beach, the farm or Melbourne city.
All primary students are also required to participate in a swimming program held in Term 2 and Term 4 each year. This is a compulsory program where students learn essential swimming and lifesaving skills.
When placing a student in a class, consideration is given to their age and English language stage. Secondary aged students are given a placement test at enrolment. Teachers regularly review the English knowledge and skills of each student and class placements are revised at the beginning of each term. This ensures that students are offered a program that supports their stage of English language.
Secondary students learn English while studying different subjects.
Below is an example of a sample secondary timetable:
Students are given homework appropriate to their age and English language stage. Students borrow books from the school Library and should read these at home. Students should also revise work done each day and complete any unfinished work. Specific homework tasks are regularly given to students to consolidate classroom learning.
Incursions and excursions provide valuable English language learning experiences for students. These are a planned and important part of the curriculum and all students are expected to fully participate.
In terms one and three, all students participate in a Connection to Country excursion at the Royal Botanic Gardens as part of the Humanities curriculum. In terms one and three, students also participate in an incursion run by health experts to learn about consent and healthy relationships. When an excursion is being organised, detailed notices will be sent home to inform parents and guardians.
In terms two and four, all students participate in a three-day program in the city of Melbourne. This program is integrated into the curriculum and aims to develop students’ English language skills as well as independence, problem-solving ability, time management and organisational skills. Parents and guardians are notified well in advance and have opportunities to discuss issues and concerns
All secondary students participate in a school swimming program as part of an important Victorian Government initiative. The aim of the program is to teach students to become competent swimmers and develop lifelong skills to be safe in, on and around water. Students are required to take part in the program to fulfil the assessment and reporting requirements according to the Victorian Curriculum. The program is delivered with a combination of school-based water safety lessons in the classroom and the application of the practical skills in an aquatic environment.