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Suffolk: 130 languages spoken in county’s schools

18:08 21 July 2014

130 languages spoken in Suffolk schools

130 languages spoken in Suffolk schools

There are 130 languages spoken at schools in Suffolk, new figures reveal.


Macedonian, Kurdish, and Igbo are among the languages spoken by pupils at primary and secondary schools in the county, but the most common languages other than English are Polish, Portuguese and Lithuanian.

Altogether 6,325 pupils out of a total of 97,000 do not use English as a first language. 2,965 of those are in Ipswich, which is the most linguistically diverse borough in the county.

Education chiefs insist the large numbers of pupils for whom English is not their native tongue doesn’t affect the quality of education on offer, provided it is managed correctly.

Suffolk County Council (SCC) said that in areas with long established minority communities such as Ipswich and Forest Heath schools had become accustomed to meeting the needs of pupils who didn’t speak English while other schools were still getting used to it.

The figures, obtained through a Freedom of Information request, also show that lower year groups have higher numbers of pupils for whom English is not a first language.

In Year 1 there are 679 pupils who speak English as an additional language in Suffolk, that’s compared to just five in Year 14.

Critics say taking on large numbers of pupils who don’t speak English is disruptive and hampers lessons due to lack of communication.

A spokesman for SCC said: “If children have been educated in another education system with different curriculum content, it will obviously take a bit of time to learn the new language and have the same level of subject knowledge for some curriculum areas as their English speaking peers.

He added: “A challenge for schools is often that of communicating with parents if the parents English is limited.”

Graham White, secretary of the National Union of Teachers, acknowledged that teachers often had “difficulty” communicating with pupils who didn’t speak English.

“In my own school we had some Polish children come and we had someone who came in as an interpreter for a while,” he said.

He also said it was possible that pupils who didn’t speak English would receive a disproportionate level of attention from teachers.

“That’s always going to be a potential danger but teachers are going to make sure they devote attention to all the pupils.

“But say you have got 30 pupils and 10 don’t speak English obviously you are going to spend a disproportionate amount of time on those children because it takes longer to explain things to them.”

However, many education chiefs say bi-lingual pupils achieve more highly than native speakers.

Chris Harrison, who represents the National Association of Head Teachers in Suffolk, said: “Any child who is bi-lingual usually will be seen as having an advantage in life, not least because it usually gives a sense of understanding of more than one culture.”

A spokesman at Suffolk County Council added: “Some pupils come from countries where the level of expectation for their age in particular subjects is higher than in England, for example in maths, so in fact pupils can often raise the results in particular subjects.

“Additionally, most secondary schools and academies are entering their ‘English as an Additional Language’ pupils for GCSEs in their other languages… this is used to increase the number of GCSEs the school gains”.

The local authority provides additional funds to schools for every pupil who doesn’t speak English as a first language.

The council’s Equalities and Minority Ethnic Attainment team also supports schools with pupils who don’t speak English with training and guidance.



  • So 'Boris', we should celebrate the fact that non-English speakers are getting preferential treatment over English kids in the form of a 'Pupil Premium' and in another place, someone has pointed out that they get all the school trips at half price. We should celebrate that? I don't think so. Vote UKIP.

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    Tuesday, July 22, 2014

  • Rory's education was obviously defective, given that he can't tell our from are. As for Big Phil, he never learned how to express himself clearly. . Children at primary school age pick up language very quickly. My daughter came to this country aged 5, speaking only Italian, and by the end of the first term her English was perfect. We should take pride in the diversity of our country, rather than invent difficulties where none exist.

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    Tuesday, July 22, 2014

  • You seem to be struggling with the English language yourself mate !( @ Barry ) . Integration will be no good at all for ENGLISH CHILDREN ! Muslimised English children ? ( erm ? ) my grandparents would roll over in their graves !!

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    Monday, July 21, 2014

  • This MUST be massively detrimental and unsettling to an English child and to pretend otherwise is nonsense. The slowdown factor alone trying to make these incomers understand the basics has to mean learning progresses at a snails pace. And then there is the more obvious divisions and all the tiptoeing about as a consequence. A Labour disaster!

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    Monday, July 21, 2014

  • Rory Breaker, it's our children's not are children's. My son attends primary school alongside children of different nationalities, none of whom 'are hampering our children's learning' at all. In fact, it's been an enriching experience for all concerned.

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    Barry Peas

    Monday, July 21, 2014

  • It has to be a massive cost and burden on the schools no matter what the politicians might try to claim It also account to a large extent to the poor educational results of many pupils.. A class can only really proceed at the rate of the slowest pupils which will be those that do not speak English or have very limited English. This means that the English speakers are held back. They will also become very bored so loose interest in Education

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    Monday, July 21, 2014

  • As Labour government would have us believe "we have no problem with integration in the country" This put immense pressure on teaching staff, and limits the support teaching assistants can offer the other children too. The immigration issues in this country are hampering are children's learning amongst other things; this needs to be addressed.

    Report this comment

    Rory Breaker

    Monday, July 21, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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