Immigration: The cost for schools
BBC News, October 15, 2010
A migration think tank claims UK schools spend nearly 13m a day to educate the children of migrants.
With Cambridgeshire a popular destination for migrants working in fields, factories and restaurants, do schools here recognise this cost?
‘There are funding implications. For example, the other biggest issue is communication with the parents,’ said Peterborough headteacher Ian Erskine.
He also said all his pupils benefit from the school’s 30 nationalities.
‘Range of Needs’
Clare Blair is the chair of governors of Orchard Community Primary School in Cambridge, where there are 24 different nationalities.
She denied that this meant extra expense for her school.
‘Of course we’ve always got to watch exactly what happens in schools, to make sure we’re giving all the children there a fair and balanced education,’ said Ms Blair, who is also a Liberal Democrat councillor on Cambridge City Council.
‘Within all schools you have to cater for a range of needs, and we spend extra money on children who come in.’
She said Cambridge schools are particularly well placed to cope with a transitory population.
The figure of nearly 13m a day was quoted in a report by Migrationwatch, published in October 2010.
‘We’re doing it by calculating the number of migrant children taken from the official statistics and multiplying it by the average cost of a school place,’ explained Sir Andrew Green, the chairman of Migrationwatch.
‘We’re deducing that the massive levels of immigration in recent years, three million in recent years in fact, are placing a heavy strain on public services.’
A BBC Look East report in August 2010 revealed that the East’s population is set to rise by 10% by 2018.
East Cambridgeshire is one area highlighted in the Look East report, because its population is predicted to rise even further, by 16%.
Figures from East Cambridgeshire District Council confirm that 5,500 foreign migrants registered with the government’s Workers’ Registration Scheme between 2004 and 2008.
In 2007 Cambridgeshire’s former chief constable, Julie Spence, spoke out about the strains foreign migrants were placing on her workforce.
In its latest report on the impact of immigration on schools, Migrationwatch stated over half a million more school places will be needed by 2015 for the children of recent immigrants to the UK.
Sir Andrew Green says the problem should be recognised and in the long term, immigration levels brought down.
Ian Erskine is the headteacher of Fulbridge Primary School in Peterborough, and said that immigration has resulted in a shortage of places at his school.
Peterborough City Council is looking into a novel way of addressing the expense of providing so many translators for so many different languages – a computer system.
‘Pupil language assistant’
Ian Erskin said all children thrive in such a diverse environment: ‘Because a lot of our children are from families that have lived in this country for several generations.
‘We ask the children, ‘Who wants to be a pupil language assistant?’, so we get Polish children, Slovakian children, whether it’s Pakistani, Indian whatever it is, and they volunteer.
‘They’ll translate what parents are saying as well, so as you can imagine that’s really good for the children’s education.’
EDITORS NOTE: The report is available at: