English 'a barrier for 300 schools'
The Press Association
January 28, 2009
More than 300 primary schools in England have a large majority of children whose first language is not English, it has been revealed.
Labour's former minister Frank Field and Conservative MP Nicholas Soames, the co-chairmen of the all-party parliamentary group on balanced migration, said that the official figures made “a nonsense” of the Government's efforts to integrate migrants into British society.
The local education authority with the most primaries where English is not the mother-tongue of 70% or more pupils was Birmingham, with 60 schools, followed by Tower Hamlets in east London (43) and Bradford (40).
Others with high numbers of schools in the category included Newham (31), Leicester and Kirklees (both 21), Ealing (18), Brent and Oldham (both 17), Blackburn & Darwen (15), Lancashire (13) Luton (11) and Rochdale (9).
In all, these areas have 316 primaries with more than 70% of pupils not speaking English as their first language, according to information placed in the House of Commons library by schools minister Sarah McCarthy-Fry in response to a parliamentary question from Mr Field.
In a statement, Mr Field and Mr Soames said: “These figures make a nonsense of the Government's aim of integration and show the very real strain that uncontrolled, large scale immigration is already placing upon our society.
“In hundreds of primary schools, English is the second language for over 70% or more of the pupils.
“How can these children be expected to integrate into our society, if they are being taught in schools where is English is the mother-tongue of no pupils or a minority of pupils?”
A spokesman for the Department for Children, Schools and Families said: “The language of instruction in English schools is and always has been English.
“We have listened to concerns of headteachers and are increasing funding in the Ethnic Minority Achievement Grant to 206 million by 2010, to bring students weak in English up to speed.”