New statistics released last week show that in 1 out of 9 British schools, English is no longer the primary language spoken at home by students.
1,755 schools in the UK (out of 15,288 total) reported that a majority of students spoke English as a second language in the annual schools census, according to the Daily Telegraph.
You could be forgiven for assuming that most of these schools are in London. You would also be wrong. 290 of the schools in question are in the Midlands, 172 are in the North West region, and 162 are in Yorkshire and the Humber.
These statistics have some people (and politicians, of course) quite concerned. MP Douglas Carswell told the Telegraph:
“Up until now immigration has been all about economics, but we need to start talking about the cultural impact too. We can’t hold it against an individual wanting to come to this country on behalf of their family, but are we doing all we can to integrate and assimilate? It’s time for a national debate about the impact of social cohesion in Britain today. I want to make sure that we create first and second generation Britons.”
Is this a legitimate concern? It is clear that many of the English as a second language students start off behind. According to Yasmine Dhillon, the head teacher of Maidenhall primary school in Luton, where 98.9 percent of students speak another language at at home:
“Some of them have never seen the written word. At home the parents may not have any books, and when they come to us some of them only have words or phrases in English.”
But does it really matter if you start school speaking a different language, as long as you leave school able to speak English fluently?
According to the Telegraph, most students meet national standards after their first year of school, and all but one of the schools in question are rated good or excellent by Ofsted. Equally important, according to Ms. Dhillon, “The parents are aspirational, they want their children to go to university, to be doctors and highly skilled professionals.”
It’s hard to argue with that.
Image credit: Jellllerine