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Assessment Of Children


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We're in a largely monocultural/lingual area, but it's beginning to change. I've just had a question raised that I've not been asked before, & it's made me think. Can I ask for wisdom from those of you with more experience in these areas?

 

The child is 4 & will be going into school in September. He will get support from EMAS there as they have strong links to the school. He was in kindergarten in an East European country as late as January this year, joining us in late February, although he was actually born here. We have been assured that his first language is strong and being supported, and that's certainly how it seems to us.

 

We've eventually managed to get EMAS to come out & meet him next week. Unfortunately his mother can't be there, although the opportunity was offered. He's clearly going through the phase where he is listening to the English he is exposed to, and developing his comprehension. He uses a few words.

 

The mother has just said that she wants his cognitive development assessed by a speaker of the child's first language. She says you can tell his physical development is Ok because that's observable. Cognitive development is less so, especially as the stepping stones in places rely quite heavily on what a child says. I see her point. I'm going to talk to EMAS about it, but it got me thinking about the whole issue. It doesn't only apply in this sort of situation, does it? It's difficult to assess the learning of those with serious speech & language delay.

 

I'd value any thoughts anyone cares to contribute. I guess I'm thinking of this more as a discussion than asking for answers to a specific question, as you can gather from how I've written this!

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Sorry Clare! Ethnic Minorities Achievement Service - previoulsy known - around here anyway - as English as an Aquired Language.

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I think I've part-answered my own question; see what you think.

 

I'm going to invite the parent to go through the FS with me, one Learning Area at a time, and ask her to evidence what he can do. Her own English is perfectly good enough to do this. I could colour-code it somehow to indicate that they were anecdotes from home, in his first language. It may not be completely what is being asked for but it would be better than what we have in place now. I think I'd have to allocate several apointments to do it thoroughly, though.

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That sounds like a good idea Weightman, but as you say it may take time. My initial concerns would be that although Mum has good English, will she be able to fully understand what the FS is about? Are you planning to show her the actual guidance and go through it with her? Even now I still get a bit stumped with some of the phrasing in the guidance :o ! You might also need to take into consideration that Mum reads the areas differently to you and so might say that the child can do a particular thing, but it is not the way in which you as a professional would expect. Do you see what I mean? The paperwork is wrecking my head now and I'm slowly losing the ability to construct an understandable sentence!

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Yes, Clare, and that's a very valid point you make. But I still think I might try it, if only to see if it would work if the situation arises again.

 

Mum seems to be saying that there is no point EMAS etc seeing her son if they don't speak his first language, [although she has given consent]because they can't assess him fully. While I have sympathy with her position, it's just not going to happen in the current economic climate, especially in an area where there are no real dominant linguistic/ethnic groups, just a handful of several.

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In my school, which was very multicultural, we developed a Parents Group which couldbe used for all sorts of things including translation and working alongside the EMAS service. I think, though, your EMAS service should provide a translator!

 

acb

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I dont think at this stage I would worry unduely about his cognitive development. He is beginning to pick up English and if his social interactions with his peers are good, he will be ok. There will be a mismatch of cognitive skills in his first and second language at the moment but mum should not be over anxious about this. Why does she need this assessment? Is she concerned about something?

It is not unusual for children to regress sometimes when a new and perhaps traumatic situation arises and this little boy has been moved into a situation in which he is largely isolated. His energies are being used up acquiring another language.

 

I have worked in a multicultural school and if we had concerns about a EAL child, the first thing was always a mother tongue assessment. We supported out children with bilingual TAs in the classroom ---obviously more difficult in an individual child senario.

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No I don't really know why she wants it. She's seemed very pleased at every step we've taken so far - EMAS, links with his intake school etc. She's very clear about the need to keep up his first language.

 

It just could be his social interaction she's concerned about. He isn't totally isolated, as there's another child who understands but doesn't speak this language [complicated!] But the second child either has an expressive language delay or has confusion about which of 3 languages is his first language. He's also not in the same school year group. It may be that she fears he's over-dependent on the younger child. Also he can be very physical in play, sometimes hurting other children, which doesn't help him integrate.

 

Also he is brought & collected, more often than not, by a family friend who speaks little English. So I have to grab my opportunities to talk to mum as they arise.

 

Well, at least we get EMAS involvement and a visit from his expected class teacher next week. That should help.

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I also wonder if ther is an agenda you dont yet know about, there has to be a reson that mum is pushing for this so there muct be something bothering her?

 

Children are reamrkably good at picking uo other languages and we regularly have 8 or 9 children who are the only children speaking their language, more often than not, they integrate very well.

 

Yo shoudl be able to book a translator from EMAS, could you look into that? It might just put her mind at rest maybe? Otherwsie if there is nothing particularly concerning you, you probabaly just need to reassure here that evryhting is ok?

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just as a reminder when you get to the profile, all scale points except CLL scales points 4 and above can be assessed in the home language. See back of FSP hanndbook for relevant guidance

 

Cx

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