‘One-in-five UK pupils do not have English as mother tongue’

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July 2, 2013

LONDON: Almost one-in-five pupils in primary education in the UK do not have English as their mother tongue following a sharp hike in the number of foreign-born pupils, according to official figures.

July 2, 2013

LONDON: Almost one-in-five pupils in primary education in the UK do not have English as their mother tongue following a sharp hike in the number of foreign-born pupils, according to official figures.

The number of schoolchildren speaking English as a second language soared to a record high of more than one million this year amid a continuing rise in immigration, The Telegraph reported.

Official figures show that almost one-in-five pupils in primary education now speak another language in the home following a sharp hike in the number of foreign-born pupils over the last 12 months.

In inner London, native English speakers are now in a minority, with the proportion as low as a quarter in boroughs such as Tower Hamlets, Newham and Westminster.

Across England, the number of children who do not have English as their mother tongue has increased by 54,000 in the last 12 months and around 228,000 since 2008. The number stands at almost 1.1 million in 2012/13, the report said.

Figures suggest that the proportion of children starting school with English as a second language has now doubled since the late 90s.

The disclosure, in data from the Department for Education, comes amid concerns that a rise in the number of immigrants is having a significant effect on public services.

It follows the publication of data showing that an extra 250,000 primary school places are needed within the next year, with immigration and rising birth rates cited a major cause of the shortage.

Some head teachers have complained that budgets set aside to teach children from immigrant and refugee backgrounds have been cut, leaving them struggling to buy in specialist support for pupils.

According to the latest data, 1,061,010 pupils speak other languages at home in the current academic year compared with 1,007,090 a year earlier and 832,790 in 2008. The figures cover primary, secondary and special schools, the report said.

In all, children without English as their mother tongue make up 18.1 per cent of primary school pupils compared with 17.5 per cent a year earlier, it said.

The figures also show an increase in the number of pupils in England classed as being from an ethnic minority background.

In all, almost three in 10 primary school children are in this category in the current academic year, with numbers reaching almost a quarter in secondary education.


Courtesy: PTI

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