In England, 12 per cent of primary school children do not speak English as a first language, Dr Sandra McNally told the Can’t Speak, Can’t Learn conference this week.
The event looked at the impact of ‘non-native speakers’ on their classmates. The number of those whose mother-tongue is not English has increased by one-third from 2003 to 2009.
Dr Sandra McNally, Director of Education and Skills, Centre for Economic Performance, The London School of Economics and Political Science, presented research findings in a talk entitled: Pupil Performance on the Changing Geography of Ethnic Minority Pupils in Secondary Schools.
Dr McNally said it was important to emphasise that, “Non-native English speakers are more likely to be eligible for free school meals, so they’re from more socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds."
She added: “By the end of Key Stage Two, their scores in reading, writing and maths, will be lower than native English speakers.”
Dr McNally also drew attention to the positive effects that non-native English speakers could bring to primary schools.