35 Different Languages Are Spoken in Dorset Schools

Jane Reader, Bournemouth (UK) Echo, October 14, 2008

AN INFLUX of migrants means up to 35 different languages are spoken in individual Bournemouth primary schools.

One in 10 pupils at Malmesbury Park Primary School cannot speak English and a further 15 per cent have needed extra help to learn the language in the past.

The picture is the same at St Michael’s Primary in the town centre, the area most affected by the culture change.

And some Boscombe schools are seeing dramatic rises in the number of pupils categorised as EAL (English as an Additional Language).

Such statistics are common in inner-city areas of the UK, where ethnic minorities routinely outnumber white British pupils.

But the figures are likely to surprise many people who may not have previously thought it applied to Dorset David Blakely, head teacher of Malmesbury Park in Lowther Road, said the number of languages spoken in the school had risen gradually over the last 10 years.

“There is a wide variety from Polish and Korean to Arabian and different forms of Spanish,” he told the Daily Echo.

“We haven’t even heard of some of the languages until the children arrive here.”

He said around 60 of the school’s 635 pupils need intensive support because they cannot speak English and said two teaching assistants have been employed to help them. An extra teacher also comes in two days a week.

“I firmly believe it does not have a bad effect on the rest of the pupils in the school,” added Mr Blakely.

“The school has done relatively well in recent tests.

“The children here are learning about the differences between different cultures and learning to get on together, which is a good thing.”

And he continued: “They are learning life skills that it would be hard to teach without that ethnic mix.”

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