19 March 2012

UK immigration has negligible effect on schools

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Rising UK immigration rates have long since led to the concern that Britain's schools would suffer from an increase of non-native English speaking pupils. However, recent research indicates these concerns are merely presumptuous.

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A study by the London School of Economics shows that UK immigration has little effect on education in British schools.

The study, by the London School of Economics (LSE), show that while native English speakers did perform worse at schools with relatively high rates of non-native English speaking pupils, the effect of UK immigration trends to 'either zero or very weakly positive' when taken into account with other factors such as poverty.

Further research at the LSE found that approximately 12% of Britain's school children are non-native English speaking, more than a 30% increase compared to 10 years ago.

UK immigration has returned to the forefront of British politics in recent weeks several changes to UK visa policy and entrance requirements announced by the immigration minister, Damian Green.

The Conservative Party, upon taking Parliament with the Liberal Democrats, promised to reduce net migration to the 'tens of thousands' and Mr Green believes this will help assist struggling teachers and pupils in schools with higher rates of non-native English speaking pupils.

"The number of pupils with English as a second language makes life difficult for teachers, parents and pupils," said Mr Green.

However, Sandra McNally, one of the researchers from LSE said: "The growing proportion of non-native English speakers in primary schools should not be a case for concern; this is not detrimental to the educational attainment of native English speakers."

The study concluded that there is "no reason to be worried about the increase in the number of non-native speakers of English in primary schools," because "primary-aged students catch up in English proficiency at a rate such that they do not impede the progress of their native-speaking peers."

The study has been widely commended for debunking a common assumption, Jonathan Portes, director of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research said: "This research is further evidence that, overall, the impact of migration on public services is more likely to be positive than negative."

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