Sedbergh School teaching staff who completed a professional development course in Teaching English as a Second Language in Mainstream Classrooms received their certificates this week.

The course, designed by the Government of Australia, is a demanding nine-week programme incorporating group workshops, classroom-based activities and highly practical readings. It provides teachers, working across the curriculum, with successful classroom strategies for improving the learning achievements of all their students—with a focus on their EAL students.

The aims of the course are:

– to identify the language-related needs of EAL students and develop teaching practices which address their needs in an holistic and explicit manner.
– to develop teachers’ awareness of how to accommodate the cultural and linguistic diversity and experiences of EAL students.
– to provide a positive context for teachers to trial suggested strategies and reflect critically and openly on their teaching.
– to develop collaborative working relationships between all teachers through a shared understanding of how to support EAL students. 

Catherine Bettney, course leader and Head of EAL Support said: “The staff who have taken part in the course so far have enjoyed the experience and have found it to be very worthwhile.

It is often difficult to find time (and energy!) for sustained professional development when working in a busy school but all the teachers who have done the course have found that taking time out each week to focus on their teaching, on their pupils’ learning and on having professional discussions with colleagues has been a very positive experience that has helped them to increase their enthusiasm for teaching and has motivated them to put into practice the techniques and ideas covered by the course.”

At Sedbergh School one fifth of the pupil roll comes from countries outside the UK and the School runs an active programme of social, sporting and cultural opportunities outside the classroom. By maintaining a majority of English-speaking pupils, this offers non-native speakers an authentic English boarding school experience with first class pastoral care and support for language learning and integration.  

Catherin Vormman, Year 12, is from Germany. She said: “I wanted to come for an English boarding school experience before studying for my Abitur next year in Germany. I think the in-House dinners are a really important part of settling in here – it’s different to home but you get a lot of opportunity to talk to people and it’s helped me to grow in confidence, socially, in a completely new country.”

Pier Pello, Year 12, is from Switzerland. He said: “I came to Sedbergh from a day school, where I spoke Italian as my first language, French as my second, and I was used to speaking English but only in History and Geography lessons.

It was quite new for me to be studying every lesson in a foreign language, having to get up to speed quickly on technical language in Maths, for example. But it’s impossible not to develop the new language skills because you’re immersed in English and English lifestyle every day here.

There’s always someone to talk to and practise with if you look for opportunities. Coming from an international background, for me it helped to have a mix of British and overseas students. I quickly made friends.”

For further information on overseas admissions, please visit

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