Deceleration, also known as back-yearing
When admitting a child who is new to English, schools should ensure they give due consideration to the HIAS guidance document if they are thinking about the year group into which that child should be placed. Schools should note that deceleration is generally not regarded as good practice for EAL learners.
Taken from the HIAS guidance (page 7), the following paragraphs talk about deceleration for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller children, children learning English as an additional language and refugee/asylum-seeking children:
- Gypsy, Roma and Traveller children
Children from Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities should be educated alongside their peers in their chronological year group unless they fall into a group listed above and there are exceptional circumstances.
High levels of mobility are not, on their own, justification for deceleration or acceleration. Advice and support from professionals from the Hampshire Traveller Advisory Service (located within the Hampshire Ethnic Minority and Traveller Achievement Service – EMTAS) should be sought and they should be involved in any discussion.
- Children learning English as an additional language (EAL)
EAL learners will be admitted to the normal chronological year group for their age. Their needs should be met through appropriate differentiation of work and support.
Deceleration is not recommended for pupils for whom English is an additional language and has been found to impact negatively on pupils’ self-esteem, often resulting in pupils leaving school and going on to college without completing Key Stage 4 with no passes at GCSE. Advice, guidance and training on best practice in relation to meeting the needs of pupils for whom English is an additional language can be accessed from Hampshire EMTAS.
- Children who are refugees and/or asylum seekers
Decisions in respect of children who are refugees and/or asylum seekers need to be based on what is considered to be in the best interests of the individual child. In addition to the factors relevant to EAL learners, many may have experienced significant trauma and may need access to additional support.
The school should call a multi-disciplinary meeting and ensure they seek the advice and support of professionals from EMTAS and Children’s Services, especially if the child’s actual age is unknown and an age assessment is required.
- Further information on deceleration
Additional information about deceleration with case study examples (one of which is primary phase) can be found in the EMTAS publication.