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English Second Tongue for One in Seven Pupils

In Bradford, 43 per cent of children at the city’s primary schools speak something other than English as their first language. In Kirklees the figure is 27 per cent and in Sheffield 20 per cent.Across Yorkshire, close to 16 per cent of primary school pupils, more than 290,000 children – do not speak English as their mother tongue, up from 14 per cent three years ago. The figure is slightly lower at secondary level at 11 per cent or 283,000 children.Nationally, the statistics show that more than a million youngsters do not have English as their first language.The figures also show an increase in the number of pupils in England who are classed as being from an ethnic minority background, with nearly three in 10 primary school children in this category. In Bradford, the majority of primary school pupils, 23,290 out of 42,855, come from ethnic minority groups while in Kirklees one third of primary children come from ethnic minority groups.In the last year alone, the number of children in English schools who speak English as an additional language has risen by almost 54,000. In primary schools across England, almost one-in-five pupils speak another language at home, along with around one in seven of those in secondaries.Overall the figures show that 1,061,010 children attending England’s state primary, secondary and special schools, as well as pupil referral units (PRUs) had a first language that is known or believed to be something other than English. This is up from 1,007,090 youngsters in 2012 – an extra 53,920 pupils.In 2008, around 832,790 children spoke English as a second language, although this figure does not include those being taught in PRUs.It means that the numbers have risen by around 227,000 in the last five years. Scott Blinder, acting director of the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford, said: “The sharp increase in the UK’s migrant population over the last decade has been well documented, and it is not surprising that this is reflected in the population of the country’s schools. “Polish is now the most common main language in the UK after English, and the Polish population of the UK increased by more than half a million since 2001. “It is worth noting that ethnicity is not an indicator of migration status. Ethnic minority populations in schools also include many children who were born in Britain and have British nationality, although increases may be related to migration as well.” The latest official figures show that net migration into Britain has fallen by more than a third.A net flow of 153,000 migrants came to the UK in the year to September 2012, down from 242,000 in the previous year, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).The decline was driven by a drop in the number of immigrants coming to Britain, which fell from 581,000 to 500,000, while the number of migrants leaving the country rose from 339,000 to 347,000.The figures were published as the Government unveiled plans to give all state schools the power to set their own term times. The move comes just weeks after Education Secretary Michael Gove suggested that the current school year is out of date and that children should have shorter holidays.If the new Bill is passed, the changes, which apply to local authority-run schools, would come into effect in September 2015. Academies and free schools – which are semi-independent schools that are not under council control – already have the freedom to set their own term dates. All state schools will still be required to open for at least 190 days of the year as they are at the moment.But the decision is likely to face opposition from some teaching unions, who argue that teachers and pupils already spend long hours in the classroom.A Department for Education spokesman said: “It is heads and teachers who know their parents and pupils best, not local authorities.”

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