ofstedAn Ofsted report looking at best practice in English teaching in schools says that teaching held in check by an inappropriate or dull curriculum will not inspire pupils or generate high standards.

Each one of 12 outstanding schools inspected for the survey was found to provide an innovative or creative curriculum for English explicitly and successfully designed around the particular needs of their pupils. Excellent team work, collaboration and sharing of best practice generated a consistency of approach especially in the crucial area of the quality of teaching.

Below we profile two of the schools in the report identified as providing inspiring teaching for ESL/AL students: George Eliot School, Westminster, and Crown Woods School, Greenwich.

George Eliot School, Westminster 

School data


National (primary)

Number on roll



% Free school meal eligibility



% Pupils from minority ethnic groups



% Pupils with English as additional language



Deprivation indicator



% Eligible pupils attaining Level 4+ in English



The majority of pupils at this school (89%) do not have English as their first language. In addition, the proportion with special educational needs is high. Nevertheless, the school scores above average in the number of its pupils attaining Level 4+ in English. The school's distinctive curriculum is marked by a sensitivity to its pupils' needs and backgrounds, and places emphasis on fostering of thinking skills, appreciation of emotions in learning, and effective professional training.

Approaches and strategies noted by Ofsted in this school include:

  • the use of a multi-modal approach, using music, sounds and images to support the teaching of English
  • good use of a 'writing wall' for building descriptive vocabulary
  • an emphasis on work in groups and sharing, including appropriate use of group work to encourage reluctant students to contribute to the lesson, and the replacement of guided reading with a group reading programme
  • work that allows the pupils to lead and take control, e.g. peer election of group leader for activities, defining own research questions
  • fostering of oral competence


Crown Woods School, Greenwich


School data


National (sec’y)

Number on roll



% Free school meal eligibility



% Pupils from minority ethnic groups



% Pupils with English as additional language



Deprivation indicator



% all pupils attaining A* to C at GCSE English




Crown Woods is a larger than average secondary school with a greater proportion of girls than boys. Entry standards are below average, and support in English has to be maintained across a broad spectrum of abilities. Nevertheless, in each class, Ofsted noted engagement with challenges, clear progression and a sense of achievement.

Techniques and approaches of note included:

  • Practical engagement in persuasive writing and speaking, including identification of persuasion techniques by the students
  • Common focus for all ability sets in the year group, facilitated by the good planning and collaboration of the department's teachers
  • Presentation of a real challenge to the ability level of the group
  • Pair work preceding independent working in lower ability classes
  • Increased levels of teacher guidance around texts for lower ability classes
  • Inclusion of topics of interest to pupils (e.g. media manipulation, racism)


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