Non-native speakers of English: what are the effects on pupil performance?

In recent years, an increase of immigration to the UK has led to an increase in the number of children who do not speak English as a first language.

This project sought to identify whether the increase in the number of children who do not speak English as a first language has had an impact on the performance of pupils who do and if so, the extent of this impact.

Main findings
  • An increased presence of children who do not speak English as their first language is not detrimental to the educational attainment of native English speakers.
  • Although there is a small negative correlation between the educational attainment of native English speakers and the proportion of non-native speakers in their year group, this simply reflects the fact that non-native English speakers typically attend schools with more disadvantaged native speakers. Once this fact was taken into account, there was no association between the presence of children whose first language is not English and the educational attainment of their native English-speaking peers.
  • Evidence from Catholic schools attended by the children of Polish immigrants suggests that the presence of non-native English speakers might – in some cases, at least – have a positive effect on natives’ results.