According to figures recently released by the English Department of Education, the number of children who speak English as a second language in England has experienced a severe increase in recent years. The total number of students who speak a language other than English at home now accounts for more than 1.1 million. The rise can be considered a direct consequence of the ever increasing rise in immigration percentages, together with an increase in birth rates.
The new official numbers show that one out of every five students in primary education speaks a foreign language at home after an increase of 54,000 children who have a mother tongue other than English since 2008. Depending on the part of the country, the percentages are even more surprising: in 36 local authority areas such as Manchester, Bradford and Birmingham, more than a third of the total number of students consider English their second language. In Tower Hamlets, in London, 76.1 per cent of students have a different mother tongue.
Opinions and Consequences
The study can be considered a consequence of recent concerns about the effect that immigration is having on public services. After the numbers provided by the Department of Education, new data shows that some 250,000 new premises would be needed in the primary school system next year to meet the needs created by immigration and a rising birth rate. Sir Andrew Green of MigrationWatch UK, stated his belief that such a high number of immigrant students has a severe impact on all public services and the resources available for other students. On the other hand, a spokesperson from the Department of Education suggested many schools teach pupils with English as a second language successfully by making use of the school funding formula.
Michael Gove’s Bill
A few weeks ago, Education Secretary Michael Gove suggested the English school year is out of date and proposed a reform to make school holidays shorter. The new legislation would allow academies and semi-independent schools which are not under council control to decide their own term schedules as from September 2015. Schools would still have to comply with 190 days of class a year but they would be free to decide on holiday-related issues otherwise. To this proposal, the Department of Education has stated that it should be the teachers who’ll decide what is best for the pupils, not the local authorities.