Report: English not first language for many at UK schools

With children in 1,700 schools across the country speaking another tongue at home, English is no longer the first language for an increasing number of British school kids.

English is no longer the first language for the majority of pupils at one in nine schools across the country as indicated by the UK’s Department for Education figures. As reported by The Daily Telegraph, since 2009, the number of pupils with English as their second-language has risen by 20% to almost 1.1 million. According to Luke MacGregor of Reuters, non-English speaking pupils come to school at the age of five with no experience in using the language. Most of the children speak one of 14 different languages including Pahari, Urdu, Bengali, Punjabi, Somali, Polish, Hindi, Gujarati, Tamil, Portuguese, Arabic, Spanish, and Pashto.

Interpreters have been hired by the school to help cope with the language barrier at parents’ evenings. Schools where native English speakers are in the minority are not entirely in London as previously suggested, but rather are spread across the country. While 968 of the 1,755 schools are in the capital, there are a total of 290 across the Midlands, 172 in the North West and 162 in Yorkshire and the Humber.

A total of 835,174 children attend the schools. In the past five years, the number of pupils speaking a language other than English as their mother tongue has risen by 10%. The official figures showed that Sacred Heart Primary in Sandwell in the West Midlands, with almost 99% speaking another language first, has the highest proportion of children with English as a second language.

The information about the first languages of the pupils was provided by more than 15,288 primary and secondary schools to the Department for Education as part of the annual census. Growing concerns about the huge influx of migrant workers in the country precede the report. Restrictions on the rights of Bulgarians and Romanians to work in the UK were lifted by David Cameron’s government on January 1 . An overwhelming 77% of Britons fear that the biggest strain will be on schools according to a survey conducted in January by the Daily Mail.

Douglas Carswell, a backbench Tory MP, urged for a “national debate about the impact of social cohesion” in Britain adding “I want to make sure that we create first and second generation Britons,” the newspaper quoted him as saying.

The Telegraph reported that the number of pupils is to grow by a million exceeding eight million by 2022, the highest levels in more than 40 years according to official estimates. However, Britons have been urged by the Vice President of the EU Commission to stop the political rhetoric about an “invasion of foreigners” as the politicians were putting the future of the UK in jeopardy.

“The fact and figures, and we all know this, show it is simply not true and I do believe also that British industry has made it very clear, putting the figures on the table and showing that the GDP of Britain rose by 3-4% because of the input of these working Europeans who come to Great Britain,” said Viviane Reding, during her webchat on European citizenship on January 10th.