Coniston Public School

EAL/D: Access, equity, excellence

Coniston Public School is united towards a shared school vision that seeks to provide every student with exceptional opportunities to unlock their potential. The Access, equity, excellence initiative is focused on improving the outcomes of the school’s English as an additional language or dialect (EAL/D) students. A large number of these students are from a refugee background, with parents/carers having limited literacy in home languages and English.

School context



School type Primary
School subtype K - 6
Current student enrolment 156 - 240 students
FOEI range 101 - 150
Aboriginal background enrolment 0 - 10%
EAL/D enrolment 21 - 30%
IEC No
Support class(es) Yes
School demographic information

Coniston Public School is united towards a shared school vision that seeks to provide every student with exceptional opportunities to unlock their potential. The Access, equity, excellence initiative is focused on improving the outcomes of the school’s English as an additional language or dialect (EAL/D) students. A large number of these students are from a refugee background, with parents/carers having limited literacy in home languages and English.

Initiative purpose

The primary purpose of the Access, equity, excellence initiative at Coniston Public School was to build the confidence of staff, EAL/D students and parents/carers and to enable strong classroom participation and growth in EAL/D student outcomes. The focus was on teacher and whole school development.

An EAL/D specialist teacher was engaged to model EAL/D strategies, with the aim of increasing teacher confidence and practice in their classrooms. Whole school engagement with the EAL/D School Evaluation Framework identified priorities across the domains of Learning, Teaching and Leading aligned to Strategic direction 2: Evidence-informed practice in Coniston Public School’s 2018-2020 School Plan.

EAL/D learning progression phase data was used to identify priority stages of learning and classes. A survey was used to identify teacher self-reported confidence and knowledge of EAL/D strategies.

Anecdotal observations of parent engagement combined with language background other than English (LBOTE) data identified specific language groups that were not engaging with the school.

Coniston Public School is united towards a shared school vision that seeks to provide every student with exceptional opportunities to unlock their potential. The Access, equity, excellence initiative is focused on improving the outcomes of the school’s English as an additional language or dialect (EAL/D) students. A large number of these students are from a refugee background, with parents/carers having limited literacy in home languages and English.

Implementation timeframe and activities

The cornerstone of the project was the engagement of a 0.4 FTE EAL/D specialist teacher who was completing post-graduate studies in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). Coniston Public School engaged the specialist teacher to provide differentiated models of support to students, staff and the culturally and linguistically diverse community.

Analysis of the EAL/D School Evaluation Framework identified program priorities to implement a sustained and systematic whole school approach.

The initiative started with a Stage 1 and Early Stage 1 collaborative planning day, where the specialist teacher guided a session about planning an integrated writing unit using a backwards mapping approach. Teachers looked at student data, including student English language proficiency using the EAL/D learning progression, and analysed writing samples.

The specialist teacher modelled (using the EAL/D teaching and learning cycle) how to plan for language and cultural demands of the curriculum, and how EAL/D strategies work in the classroom, with demonstrations that supported classroom talk. This was followed by team teaching and co-teaching to support the classroom teachers in their implementation of the strategies. Confidence and general excitement in the classroom increased.

Shoulder to shoulder support and reflective dialogue in classrooms provided contextual ‘on the job’ professional learning, further building the capacity of all teachers to effectively adopt EAL/D pedagogies. This was enhanced by whole school professional learning focused on programming that reflected the needs of EAL/D learners.

Reflective discussions with Stage 1 and Early Stage 1 teachers identified an effective process for future collaboration between EAL/D and classroom teachers. The initiative then expanded to the rest of the school, with collaborative planning occurring every five weeks. Collaborative planning and co-teaching between the specialist teacher and classroom teachers developed teacher capacity to effectively identify and meet the needs of their EAL/D students within integrated units of work.

The second component of the initiative was engaging interpreters through Wollongong City Council. Interpreters were used to develop relationships with linguistically diverse parents/carers and ensure inclusivity of whole school literacy initiatives.

Relationship building with parents and carers started with one-on-one sessions with the parent/carer and interpreter and the specialist teacher. This was followed by weekly parent/carer workshops where participants were assisted to use Seesaw, an app that creates a learning loop between students, teachers and families, to engage in their children’s learning journeys.

The third component of the initiative was engaging a designer to create a visual poster with a focus on reading to help build EAL/D parent/carer understanding of reading comprehension strategies to support their children’s reading comprehension journey at home. This occurred simultaneously with a whole school home reading initiative to ensure cultural and linguistic inclusivity.

In workshops, parents/carers were taught the meaning of the icons on the poster and they practised with each other. Comprehension strategies that could be used at home were modelled by the specialist teacher, executive and interpreters. Parents/carers implemented the strategies in home language during home reading, and students recorded their reading on the Seesaw classroom app.

To complement the initiative, improved point of enrolment processes ensured a positive transition to the school for newly arrived students.

Coniston Public School is united towards a shared school vision that seeks to provide every student with exceptional opportunities to unlock their potential. The Access, equity, excellence initiative is focused on improving the outcomes of the school’s English as an additional language or dialect (EAL/D) students. A large number of these students are from a refugee background, with parents/carers having limited literacy in home languages and English.

Resources and funding sources

  • Engaged a 0.4 FTE English as an EAL/D teacher (English language proficiency equity loading $36,022)
  • Engaged an interpreter through Wollongong City Council ($194 per 1.5 hour session, funded by the department as per the Interpreting and translating services guidelines)
  • Engaged a designer to create a visual poster with a focus on reading ($855 through the Leading EAL/D education project)

Total cost: approximately $36,877

Funding sources used
English language proficiency
Central DoE funds for interpreting services

Coniston Public School is united towards a shared school vision that seeks to provide every student with exceptional opportunities to unlock their potential. The Access, equity, excellence initiative is focused on improving the outcomes of the school’s English as an additional language or dialect (EAL/D) students. A large number of these students are from a refugee background, with parents/carers having limited literacy in home languages and English.

Evidence of impact


Coniston Public School has sustained significant growth in NAPLAN results for EAL/D students, bettering state averages and comparisons with similar school groups.

Student progress on the EAL/D learning progressions has shown high growth, with 96% of EAL/D students achieving expected or above expected growth.

EAL/D students are more confident and prepared to take risks with their language use, as noted in teacher observations and work samples.

The weekly EAL/D parent/carer workshops increased the capacity of parent/carers to connect with student learning, with the use of interpreters and assistive technology being key drivers. The parents/carers reported significantly increased confidence and self-worth when engaging with the school and developed positive relationships with staff members. Partnerships between the school and the parents/carers has been strengthened.

Leader and teacher engagement in pedagogical projects within and beyond the school has increased the capacity of all teachers to embed effective practices, resulting in improved internal results.

The extensive engagement of teachers with the EAL/D School Evaluation Framework has allowed them to pinpoint areas of focus and align resources, and this is reflected in significant growth across all domains.

Coniston Public School is united towards a shared school vision that seeks to provide every student with exceptional opportunities to unlock their potential. The Access, equity, excellence initiative is focused on improving the outcomes of the school’s English as an additional language or dialect (EAL/D) students. A large number of these students are from a refugee background, with parents/carers having limited literacy in home languages and English.

Next steps

The EAL/D School Evaluation Framework has been implemented with the whole staff to identify the school’s next steps.

To capitalise on teacher confidence and their capacity to design integrated writing units that reflect the needs of EAL/D learners, the identified next step is to transfer this practice across all key learning areas (KLAs).

Ongoing professional learning will identify language and cultural demands across the curriculum. Personalised and targeted professional development will be provided to each teacher in the form of mentoring, co-teaching and co-planning. An observation tool informed by EAL/D research and pedagogy will be developed and used in reciprocal lesson reflections to identify professional goals.

To sustain relationships with culturally and linguistically diverse parents, the need to embed the use of interpreters within all home-school communication processes has been identified. This will involve professional learning for all staff on the use of translating and interpreting services, and school resources will be created to guide this process.

Download the printable version of this resourcing snapshot

Return to top of page Back to top