Thursday, June 02, 2016

Learning lessons on immigration

UK schools with large numbers of EU migrant pupils 'perform better'. Rather than place extra strain on teachers, figures show that schools where pupils speak English as an additional language do in fact perform better. Using data from more than 20,000 schools across the country, the report aims to shed light on the impact EU expansion and immigration has had on Britain's schools ahead of the referendum later this month.

Dr Timo Hannay, founder of School Dash, said: “On the whole those schools that have large numbers of non-British white pupils tend to do better than schools that have a smaller number of them…
“This may seem surprising,” the School Dash report noted, “Why would schools with large numbers of foreign kids, many of whom learned other languages before picking up English, do better academically than similar schools catering mainly for native British pupils?”

Dr Hannay suggested the difference may be because immigrant families value education more than British natives. He said: “Educationists tend to see having English as an additional language as a positive indicator of educational outcomes because a lot of those immigrant communities take education incredibly seriously. So even though the child may not have learnt English as a first language, they still may be adept at it and on the whole they seem to do better at school.“ He added, ”The increase in performance seems to be a London-specific effect. Why is that? There are two hypotheses and I suspect they are both a little bit true. One is that London is better at assimilating and educating those kind of children, it has got a very diverse population and its schools in recent years have got quite good, and maybe London for one reason or another is a better environment for those kids to thrive. The other is that it may well be that the better educated and more aspirational immigrant families tend to end up disproportionately in London than in other areas.“

“I'm the son of a Polish immigrant, the husband of a Japanese immigrant, and have been an immigrant myself,” stated Dr Hannay in his report. “It will therefore not surprise you to learn that in general I'm in favour of people being able to move about the world freely. However, as usual, our purpose here is not to make the case either way but rather to analyse the numbers as objectively as we can.”

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