Further evidence of the negative impact of the present levels of mass immigration emerges with the news that there are over 1,300 British schools in which English is the first language of fewer than half the pupils. This problem is particularly prevalent in primary schools, with English being a minority language in a total of 1,143 such schools. That's roughly 6.6% of the nation's primary schools! In 569 of these schools English is the first language of fewer than 30% of pupils.
The situation in secondary schools is only marginally better - English is a minority language in 195 secondary schools (5.8% of the total number), including 83 schools in which English is the native tongue of below 30% of pupils. The situation has become so bad, that even teaching unions - hardly known as bastions of right-wing or anti-immigration sentiment - have begun to express disquiet: Mick Brookes, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, told a House of Lords committee that the situation was "out of control".
And he is, of course, right. So far as I can see, there are three key problems with what is going on. First, and most importantly in the long-term, these astonishingly high figures - with English now a minority language in over one in twenty English schools (and there's no guessing as to the number of schools in which twenty, or thirty, or forty percent of pupils are not fluent in English) - are indicative of the extent of the demographic change that is being inflicted upon this country.
But even if we ignore that, then the immediate problems this presents are still highly significant. Consider the cost of all this, for example. Teaching unions estimate the cost of educating a non-English-speaking child at around £30,000, a sum which fairly dwarfs the £5,270 currently spent annually on an average pupil at a British state school. Indeed, with £30,000 you could send a boy to Eton, and still have a fair bit of change left over. As the above figures indicate, there's clearly rather a lot of schoolchildren (one in eight, apparently) who speak only a limited amount of English, and the money to fund their education is going to have to come from somewhere.
The other problem which teaching unions have highlighted is the deleterious effect that this has upon teaching standards. And of course, if half the class is struggling with the language, then, in the first place, they themselves will find it difficult to gain the full benefit of each lesson, and, in the second place, they will occupy a disproportionate amount of their teacher's time, and retard the progress of the entire class, including those who can speak fluent English. And the problem is self-perpetuating: as a Polish immigrant mother told The Times back in May, if you have a school in which large numbers of children do not speak English, then the pressure on them to learn English is reduced, and the progress that immigrant children make with the language is slowed. After all, if you are the only non-English speaker in your class, then in order merely to socialise with the other children you will have to become fluent in English; if more than half your class speaks your language, then that requirement is removed. It must also be more difficult for individual non-English speakers to get the extra attention they need if there are twenty of them, than if there are only one or two.
The government's response to these problem is to say that it has increased the funds available from the "Ethnic Minority Achievement Grant". Where that leaves any native British children unfortunate enough to find themselves stuck in a school where most of their fellow pupils speak English only as a second language is unclear, although "on the scrapheap" would seem a fair bet. But what this case demonstrates, once again, is the need, not for more funding in an attempt to relieve the negative effects of the government's de facto open-door immigration policy, but for the reversal of that policy, and for the imposition of very strict limits on immigration.