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Three students playing rock, paper, scissors from Thistley Hough Academy
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A collaborative journey to EAL excellence: Thistley Hough Academy and FlashAcademy® 

Three students playing rock, paper, scissors from Thistley Hough Academy

Thistley Hough Academy, nestled in Stoke-on-Trent, is more than just a secondary school with EAL (English as an Additional Language) requirements; it’s a vibrant tapestry of diversity. In this close-knit community, students from various backgrounds come together, each carrying a unique linguistic heritage. With over 40 home languages spoken, including those from white British, Asian, Caribbean and African families, Thistley Hough Academy embraces the rich cultural mosaic its students and community embody. 

Embracing diversity, nurturing inclusion 

Heading the secondary school’s English as an Additional Language (EAL) provision is Alice Legaska. Alice proudly states, “At our school, we celebrate diversity, with over 40 different languages spoken among our students. Approximately 40% of our school population comprises students from different countries and nationalities, arriving not just at the beginning or end of the academic year but throughout.” 

Michelle Lawrence, Vice Principal, emphasises, “This diversity is a strength that enriches our community. However, it comes with its unique set of challenges, particularly in providing effective support for every student.” 

Addressing EAL linguistic challenges head-on 

Navigating through this linguistic tapestry posed unique challenges, especially for students with English as an additional language (EAL). Noel Kennedy, the school’s Principal shared, “As a secondary school in Stoke-on-Trent, serving one of the most vulnerable areas in the country, our mission is to ensure every student, regardless of their linguistic background, gets the best possible education.” A mission that aligns perfectly with FlashAcademy®’s own purpose: To unlock the potential of all learners held back by a language barrier. 

Alice describes the platform’s role as a vital part of their comprehensive solution to the complex challenges posed by the ever-evolving EAL landscape, “Language barriers can hinder academic progress and social integration. That’s where FlashAcademy® became our ally.” 

Michelle adds, “FlashAcademy® offers instant access to personalised resources, supporting diverse learners in and outside the classroom. The immediate impact is felt in our ability to provide targeted support to our most vulnerable learners, including those with additional needs and English as an additional language.” 

Innovative secondary school EAL learning interventions: Tailored to diverse needs 

The secondary school leverages FlashAcademy®’s EAL platform to weave learning interventions seamlessly into its curriculum. Alice elaborates on their approach, “Our EAL provision incorporates FlashAcademy® into lessons and intervention sessions. Whether accessed in the classroom, during one-on-one sessions, or as homework, FlashAcademy® caters to our students’ language learning needs. 

“We’re lucky to have FlashAcademy® as our main resource. It helps students access language skills—speaking, listening, reading, and writing—crucial for their everyday lives.” 

A secondary school student using FlashAcademy's EAL (English as an Additional Language) platform on a laptop

Measurable success: From assessment to celebration 

The success of Thistley Hough Academy’s EAL approach isn’t anecdotal — it’s quantifiable. Alice proudly shares that students undergo EAL assessments through FlashAcademy®. This data becomes a compass, guiding educators to tailor their EAL teaching strategies to individual student needs. The impact is staggering — more than 95% of EAL students progressed using FlashAcademy® and its assessment feature. From grade A to B or A plus to B minus, every student made significant strides. 

Noel emphasises, “What we’re trying to develop is the skill set of our staff to meet the needs within the classroom. Regular EAL learning walks have shown a real change in the skill set implemented within the classroom. FlashAcademy® provides us with valuable reports and assessment data to inform key strategies for each individual across various subjects, allowing them to access the curriculum more effectively.” 

The secondary school also integrates proficiency levels into its system, ensuring every staff member can access and understand the progress of EAL students. Certificates become a tangible celebration of achievements, creating a sense of pride for students, parents and teachers alike. 

Michelle shares a success story, “We recently had a cohort of year 11 students who struggled to find their place in the school. FlashAcademy® played a crucial role in helping them gain English skills, confidence and social adaptability. Now, they’re pursuing their desired courses in college.” 

Ongoing challenges and future aspirations 

Reflecting on challenges, Alice acknowledges the hesitancy some students exhibit in speaking, often linked to the use of Chromebooks. However, she notes a remarkable improvement in students’ speaking confidence, attributing it to FlashAcademy®’s speaking feature. As for the future, Thistley Hough Academy plans to stay the course, continuing with its successful EAL provision and partnership with FlashAcademy®.  

Noel concludes, “Our EAL provision, coupled with FlashAcademy®, has garnered recognition from other schools. We aim to support not just students but also parents and teachers in the language learning journey.” 

Thistley Hough Academy’s journey with FlashAcademy® exemplifies the real difference that can be made in the lives of EAL learners. The platform becomes a catalyst for unlocking their potential, ensuring that language is never a barrier to limitless possibilities.  

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