James Slack, Daily Mail (London), January 28, 2009
There are now ten schools in England without a single pupil who speaks English as his or her first language.
Research reveals that there are almost 600 primary schools where 70 per cent or more of youngsters normally speak a foreign language.
Across the country, one in seven pupils aged 4-11 does not have English as the first language, which is the equivalent of 466,620 children.
But, following years of unprecedented levels of migration, ten schools have now reached a point where every youngster falls into this category.
Their locations range from London to Lancashire. One, St Hilda’s in Oldham, is a Church of England school.
Some schools are in areas with long-established Muslim populations. In others, the high number of non-English speakers is the consequence of large-scale immigration from Eastern Europe.
Labour MP Frank Field and Tory MP Nicholas Soames, co-chairmen of the Cross Party Group on Balanced Migration, said: ‘These figures make a nonsense of the Government’s aim of integration and show the very real strain that uncontrolled large scale immigration is already placing upon our society.
‘In hundreds of primary schools, English is the second language for over 70 per cent or more of the pupils.
‘How can these children be expected to integrate into our society if they are being taught in schools where is English is the mother tongue of no pupils or a minority of pupils?’
Mr Field asked the Children’s Department to produce a list of all those schools where seven in ten or more pupils did not have English as their first language.
The 591 primary schools out of 17,205 which fall into this category represent around three per cent, or around one in 30.
There are a number of local authorities where 20 per cent or more of their schools have at least 70 per cent of youngsters who do not have English as their first language.
These include the London boroughs of Tower Hamlets (62 per cent), Newham (46.9), Brent (28.8) and Ealing (28), plus Blackburn (26.7), Leicester (25.9), Bradford (25), Luton (20.3) and Birmingham (20).
Shadow immigration minister Damian Green said: ‘Two successful elements of any immigration policy should be to limit the numbers coming in so that the pressure on all public services is reduced, and to insist on English being spoken to a competent level by people coming here to get married.
‘It is relatively easy to cope with a small number of non-English speakers, but incredibly difficult if there are large numbers. Scale matters.’
David Green, director of the Civitas think-tank, has warned that when a large number of immigrant children go into schools, it is very hard for the staff to accommodate them and specialist teachers have to be brought in.
Last night, Dr Green said that when the Government was advocating the economic benefits of mass migration, it failed to take into account the impact on schools and other public services.
He warned that one of the consequences of having schools where no pupils had English as a first language was that they and their families might lead a sectarian lifestyle.
A spokesman for the Children’s Department said: ‘It is important to remember that some of the schools with 100 per cent of their pupils with English as an additional language are actually doing very well, especially considering the extra challenges they face.
‘Even if a pupil speaks another language they may still be highly competent in English, and many are. In cases recent arrivals from countries such as Poland have helped keep small rural schools open that may have otherwise closed because of falling pupil numbers.
‘The language of instruction in English schools is English and this is vital in boosting community cohesion.
‘The task is to get every child up to speed in English so that they can access the whole curriculum.
‘We have listened to the concerns of head teachers and are increasing funding in the Ethnic Minority Achievement Grant to £206million by 2010, to bring students weak in English up to speed.’