English as an additional language (EAL): definition and recording guidance

Know when a pupil has EAL, and how to record languages spoken by a pupil on your school census and in your own internal records.

Last reviewed on 16 January 2024
School types: All · School phases: All
Ref: 11899
  1. What is the definition?
  2. How to record EAL on the census
  3. How to record EAL internally
  4. Learn more about how to support your pupils with EAL

What is the definition?

A pupil's first language is not English when the pupil:

  • Has been exposed to a language other than English during early development, and
  • Continues to be exposed to this language in the home or in the community

This is set out in official school census guidance – see "Language code [used for funding]".

How to record EAL on the census

The census requires you to record the language spoken by each pupil, as stated by the parent or guardian, or the child. You can use the DfE's list of language codes or the codes used in your software.

The pupil's first language is not known with absolute certainty Parents have not responded to enquiries You're able to judge whether the pupil's language