English is not mother tongue for 1m pupils

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More than 1.1 million schoolchildren do not speak English as their first language, according to official figures.

New data suggests that the numbers of youngsters who do not have English as their mother tongue has rocketed, with around a quarter of a million more now speaking other languages at home, compared with five years ago.

In the last 12 months, the numbers of EAL (English as an additional language) children has risen by around 61,300.

Overall, one in six pupils in state primary and secondary schools have a first language that is known, or believed to be, other than English – a total of 1,109,610 children. This does not include special schools or pupils referral units.

In 2013, around 15.9 per cent of youngsters spoke English as a second language, while in 2009 the figure was 13.2 per cent.

Statistics suggest that there are now 252,940 more EAL children in primary and secondary schools than there were five years ago.

In primary schools alone, as of January, almost one in five pupils (18.7 per cent) did not have English as their mother tongue, while in secondary schools the figure was around one in seven (14.3 per cent).

The statistics, published by the Department for Education, are part of a snapshot of the make-up of England’s schools, based on data collected in January.