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Pupils: English Language

Volume 472: debated on Wednesday 20 February 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what steps the Government have taken to assist teachers with the change in the number of pupils with English as a second language since 1997. (175850)

The Government's policy is to encourage rapid English language acquisition as the key to successful integration into the UK education system and the wider community. Newly arrived pupils are given additional help in learning English by specialist advisers and teachers of English as an additional language (EAL) and bilingual classroom assistants, who work in collaboration with classroom teachers to plan lessons and teaching materials. The evidence indicates that EAL pupils typically catch up with their peers in attainment terms within two years of first admission to a school in England.

The number of pupils for whom English is an additional language (EAL) rose from 500,000 to 790,000 between 1997 and 2007. Putting this in perspective, such children now comprise 12 per cent. of all pupils as against 7.5 per cent. in 1997 and 9 per cent. in 2001. Funding for EAL children has fully kept pace with these increasing numbers through:

an element within the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) for primary schools which was some £256 million in 2004-05, rising to £299 million in 2007-08, with a further rise to over £330 million in 2010-11—an 11 per cent. real terms increase on the 2004-05 level;

a substantial provision for EAL through the ring fenced Ethnic Minority Achievement Grant (EMAG), which has risen from £162 million in 2004-05 to £179 million in 2007-08 and will rise to £206 million by 2010-11—a 9 per cent. increase on the 2004-05 level;

in addition an Exceptional Circumstances Grant (ECG) has been introduced to reflect changes in local authorities' pupil numbers which occur after the three year indicative allocations of DSG have been announced.

These increases form part of the substantial overall increase in school funding: over the past 10 years since 1997, overall per pupil revenue funding for schools has increased by 67 per cent. in real terms. We expect local authorities to be able to manage new pressures from within these increases, and to ensure that the resources reach the individual schools affected by new arrivals and EAL speakers.

The Government have recently launched a New Arrivals Excellence Programme intended to provide practical support for local authorities, schools and individual teachers. This programme is backed by other practical support including measures to improve the supply, training and qualifications of EAL specialist staff, and to deliver new web-based teaching and learning materials.