Rise in non-English speaking pupils in schools

Official figures released today show that there are more than 470,000 children in English primary schools who do not speak English as their first language.

The UK Statistics Authority (UKSA) found that in January the percentage of primary school pupils whose first language was not English was 14.4 per cent.

This figure stood at 13.5 per cent last year.

In secondary schools the number of pupils whose first language was not English rose from 10.6 per cent to 10.8 per cent.

Out of England’s 3,261,280 primary school pupils, 470,080 do not speak English, while 354,300 speak another main language out of the 3,287,030 secondary school pupils.

London’s Tower Hamlets has schools with the highest proportion of pupils whose first language is not English, with 77 per cent and 70.6 per cent in primary and secondary schools respectively.

UKSA figures also revealed a rise in the number of primary and secondary school pupils from minority ethnic origin.

A record number of school staff was uncovered, with 20,100 more teachers and support staff than 12 months ago, and the pupil/teacher ratio is continuing to improve.

Schools minister Jim Knight welcomed the increase, saying there are “now more teachers, teaching assistants and support staff and more staff per pupil than ever before”.

“We have more teachers than at any time since I was at school. We’ve freed up teachers from administration tasks to do what they do best – teaching and giving pupils more individual attention,” he added.

“And we have invested massively in support staff on the ground to give them the back up they need.”