Posted on June 23, 2011

One in Four Primary School Pupils Are from an Ethnic Minority and Almost a Million Schoolchildren Do Not Speak English as Their First Language

Kate Loveys, Daily Mail (London), June 22, 2011

More than a quarter of primary school children are from an ethnic minority–an increase of almost half a million since 1997, it emerged yesterday.

The Government’s annual school census painted a picture of a changing Britain where schools are under mounting pressure from mass immigration.

In some areas, only 8 per cent of primary pupils are from a white British background. Nearly one million children aged five to 16–957,490–speak English as a second language, up from almost 800,000 five years ago.

And 26.5 per cent of primary pupils–862,735–are from an ethnic minority. When Labour took office in 1997, the total was 380,954. At secondary level, the total of ethnic minority children–723,605–has risen from 17.7 per cent to 22.2 per cent in five years.

The biggest group of ethnic minority pupils were Asians, making up 10 per cent of primary pupils and 8.3 per cent of secondary pupils.

The number from ‘other white backgrounds’ in primaries has almost doubled since 2004–from 74,500 to 136,880–reflecting arrivals from Eastern Europe and other new EU member states.

In Manchester, Bradford, Leicester and Nottinghamshire white British primary pupils are in a minority. And in Luton just 30 per cent are classified as white British.

In some London boroughs, such as Newham, only 8 per cent of children up to the age of 11 are from a white British background.

Sir Andrew Green, chairman of think-tank MigrationWatch, said this was an ‘inevitable consequence of Labour’s policy of mass immigration’.

He added: ‘We now have nearly a million schoolchildren whose first language is not English and who consequently need extra attention which can only be at the expense of English-speaking students.

‘This underlines the need for the Government to meet its commitment to get net migration down to tens of thousands by 2015.’

A Department for Education spokesman said: ‘Having English as a second language doesn’t always mean that English skills are necessarily poor. It only shows the language the child was initially exposed to at home–the evidence is clear that once English is established, children catch up and even overtake their peers.’

Overall, 24 per cent of children in primary and secondary schools are of an ethnic minority–1,586,340.

The DfE classification of ‘white British’ does not include Irish, traveller, gipsy or Roma pupils.

n A record number of parents are lodging appeals after their children were refused places at their primary school of choice. DfE figures show there were 42,070 such appeals in 2009/10–a 10.5 per cent rise on the year before and a doubling since 2005/6. Immigration and families trying to get into sought-after schools have been blamed.

Primary school place appeals rocket

The numbers of parents appealing against primary school places has rocketed.

Tens of thousands of families lodged appeals last year after their children were refused places at their favoured school.

The DfE statistics show that 42,070 appeals were lodged against primary school admissions in 2009/10, a 10.5 per cent rise on the 38,080 appeals in 2008/09.

The figures also show that the numbers of appeals against primary places have almost doubled since 2005/06, when they stood at 21,995.

It is thought that intense pressure on primary school places, due to the rising birth rate, is fuelling the hike in appeals.

Today’s statistics show that 85,165 appeals were lodged by parents against primary and secondary school allocations in 2009/10, slightly down from 88,275 the previous year.

Of these, 60,855 were heard by independent panels, with 18,110 cases decided in favour of the parents.

Schools minister Nick Gibb said: ‘It is clear that rising birth rates are increasing demand and pressure on primary places, with more parents unhappy with the lack of choice open to them.

‘The education system has rationed places in good schools for too long, which is why our reforms are designed both to drive up standards in the weakest performers and allow more children to go to the best.’

The Government is encouraging more groups to set up free schools, and 200 of the worst primaries are to be turned into academies, he added.

All parents have the right to appeal if any school they applied to refuses their child a place.

The system allows parents to argue that schools broke official admissions rules or that there are ‘compelling’ extra reasons why their child deserves a place.

Rising numbers of infants are being taught in ‘large classes’, above the legal limit, according to separate DfE figures published today.

The statistics show that 43,065 five to seven-year-olds are now taught in classes with more than 30 pupils.

This figure has risen by more than a third since last year, when it stood at 31,265 pupils, and almost doubled in five years. In 2007, the figure was 23,210 pupils.

Overall, 2.5 per cent of infant classes in England–1,370 in total–have more than 30 pupils, up from 1.8 per cent in 2010.

Under current rules, there are certain circumstances in which schools can legally have an infants class of more than 30, for example if a parent wins an appeal for a place.

The figures show that 1,060 classes are considered ‘lawfully’ large, up from 855 last year.

It means that almost 10,000 pupils are being taught in the 310 ‘unlawfully’ large classes. This has doubled in the space of a year, from 4,475 pupils taught in 140 classes in 2010.

The most common reasons for school legally exceeding the statutory limit on class sizes was pupils being admitted after a decision by an independent appeal panel, or because a pupil had originally been refused entry to a school in error.

The average class size for five to seven-year-olds is now 26.9 pupils, up from 26.6 last year.

For seven to 11-year-olds the average class size is 27 pupils, up from 26.8 in 2010, while in secondary schools it is 20.4, down from 20.5.