Revealed: The schools where English is a foreign language for 80% of pupils

By Kate Loveys
Last updated at 10:57 PM on 28th November 2010

Children who speak English as their first language are in a minority in a rapidly growing number of schools, figures reveal.

The surge has been most pronounced in London, where in some boroughs youngsters with a different mother tongue make up nearly 80 per cent of primary pupils.

However it is not confined to the capital. In Birmingham, Bradford and Leicester more than 40 per cent of pupils across all primary schools do not count English as their first language. Nationally, English is a foreign tongue to nearly one in six youngsters in primary schools.

Classroom: Figures have revealed that children who speak English as their first language are in a minority in inner-city London schools (posed stock photograph)

The figures, to be published this week, have almost doubled during the past decade and are projected to increase to 23 per cent – 830,000 out of 3.5million – by 2018.

There are concerns that the increases will place school finances under strain as a growing number of youngsters require help with English.

MigrationWatch, which conducted the study using figures from the Office for National Statistics, believes that over the next five years more than 500,000 extra school places will be needed for the children of immigrants who arrived in Britain after 1998.

This will cost the Treasury £40billion, equal to a penny in the pound on the basic rate of income tax.

Sir Andrew Green, chairman of MigrationWatch UK, said the trend will lower education standards for native English-speaking children.

He said: ‘These pupils will of course continue through the education system but it is primary schools where the effect is being felt most acutely at present and where English-speaking children are bound to suffer as immigrant children require extra help.’

The figures reflect a more than four-fold increase in immigration since Labour came to power. Net annual immigration has increased from 48,000 in 1997 to 215,000 in 2009.

Across London as a whole, children who speak English as a second language total nearly a half of all pupils – 44.6 per cent.

But in inner London, they number 55 per cent of primary school pupils, and in boroughs such as Tower Hamlets, Westminster and Newham, they form nearly eight in ten of primary pupils.

The lowest populations of youngsters with English as a second language are in the South West and North East.

Outside London, the area with the biggest proportion of pupils without English as their first language is Slough, Berkshire. The education authority to record the sharpest increase in the past decade was Luton, Bedfordshire, where almost half have a different mother tongue.

However, while the figures show the number of pupils who are not native English speakers, they do not take into account their fluency in English.

Recent Government figures on reading and writing skills among 11-year-olds, show, on average, that children of Indian and Chinese ethnicity outstrip their white British counterparts.

Hazel Blears, a Communities Secretary under Labour, was involved in the party’s immigration policy.

She said the figures should be treated with caution. ‘They may be first-generation immigrants and their parents may not speak English, but they [the children] might do.

‘That said, you have to recognise that where you have a large surge in the number of people coming from other countries then you have to deal with that by, for example, having more teaching assistants,’ she said.

Labour has been criticised for almost doubling the number of teaching assistants in schools while the number of qualified teachers remained relatively static.



~ by jonathanure on November 29, 2010.

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