I am an Associate Professor in Primary English Education at the University of Reading, Institute of Education where I work on initial and postgraduate teacher education programmes. My interest in the school-based needs of children who have English as an additional language is founded on my years of practice in urban classrooms with high numbers of multilingual learners followed by life as an academic looking at how teachers fare with their multilingual children in regions unaccustomed to linguistic difference. My research has focussed on pedagogy for English language learners in primary schools and the dissonance between policy and practice for the teaching of English in multilingual classrooms. In particular I have interviewed teachers, and more recently children and parents, in relation to the experiences of Polish children in primary schools. Speaking with parents and children has raised my awareness of the tensions associated with languages and identity for migrant families, and the ways in which these may be hidden from teachers. I employ Bourdieuian constructs of linguistic field, capital and habitus in my research to shed light on where teachers’ classroom decisions are framed by monolingual, policy-driven assumptions.