Official figures today revealed that one in seven pupils don't speak English as their first language - and the number of infant school pupils in unlawfully large classes has risen by more than 50 per cent in the last year.
The statistics, compiled by the The Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF),show that the proportion of pupils whose first language is not English has risen to an all-time high.
In primary schools, 14.4 per cent of pupils speak another language as their mother tongue, up from 13.5 per cent in 2007, while in secondary schools the figure is 10.8 per cent, up from 10.6 per cent.
This equates to more than 800,000 pupils on the school roll with English as their second language.
As I have noted before, there are now over 1,300 schools in the UK in which the majority of pupils speak English as a second language. The number of ESL pupils has risen massively under Labour. In primary schools, for example, it has jumped from just 7.8% in 1997, to 14.4% now - an increase of 85% over eleven years. It is simply fanciful to claim that this will not have a very negative impact on the education of both native and immigrant children, at least in those classes and schools where non-native English speakers predominate, or form a significant minority. As I wrote back in December:
...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.There is also a significant financial issue. Teaching unions have estimated the yearly cost of educating an ESL child at £30,000. At present, the average amount spent annually on a state school pupil is £5,270. If all ESL children are receiving the support they need, then each one of them is likely to be costing the taxpayer an extra £25,000 each year. With the rapidity of the increase in the number of ESL pupils, that added expenditure quite quickly builds up. And it has to come from somewhere.
Finally, the colossal increase in the number of schoolchildren speaking English as a second language serves to demonstrate the extent to which immigration levels have ballooned under Labour. This is major demographic change - population replacement, indeed - taking place right before our eyes, and it shows no sign of stopping, or even of slowing down.