UK: MORE than 1,600 youngsters in Doncaster's schools do not speak English as their first language

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Wed May 7 14:35:38 UTC 2008

English is pupils' second language

05 May 2008
By Mark Hookham
Westminster reporter

MORE than 1,600 youngsters in Doncaster's schools do not speak English
as their first language, The Star has learned. And at one borough
school, Stirling Primary School, at Balby Bridge, youngsters with
English as a first language are in the minority. The figures, for
January this year and released by the Department for Children, Schools
and Families, show that in Doncaster's primary schools, 872 youngsters
have a foreign language as their mother tongue. It represents 4.4 per
cent of all pupils in that age range. The figure for borough secondary
schools is 769 youngsters, 3.6 per cent of the total pupils. But the
figures are dwarfed by some other parts of South Yorkshire. In
Sheffield, just over 15 per cent of primary school pupils have English
as a second language.

And in Rotherham seven per cent of primary school children do not
speak English as their first language. Jim Knight, the schools
minister, yesterday admitted that "undoubtedly there can be problems"
for schools with a high concentration of pupils speaking other
languages. But he said: "The gap in achievement between migrant
children and English-speaking pupils has narrowed significantly in
recent years." Doncaster teacher and Association of Teachers and
Lecturers official Lesley Ward said: "I do supply teaching at a school
in Doncaster where we have seen a gradual increase in the number of
pupils who do not have English as a first language.

"We have quite a few Polish pupils, and they do pick up the language
quickly. "I would say at the moment schools here are cop ing quite
well but if there was any further increase there may need to be
further funding. "At the moment it is stretching resources but not
breaking down." When a child does not speak English, Doncaster
education authority sends speakers of the child's first language to
the school to settle them in and provide initial intensive language,
said she added. Doncaster Council declined to comment on the current
situation. No one was available for comment at Stirling Primary

Nationally, more than 800,000 school children do not speak English as
their first language. Damian Green, the Tory shadow immigration
minister, said: "This has happened because the Government failed to
follow our policy of taking into account the impact of immigration."
But Mr Knight said: "We do find that migrant children are now doing
well in English schools. "Indeed, because they are coming from family
backgrounds of economic migrants - who are keen to be doing well, that
is why they have moved to this country and they are equally keen for
their children to do well at school."

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