The arrival of Polish children in British schools after 2005 boosted the performance of native pupils, a new study has found.
The latest report of the London School of Economics' Centre for Economic Performance (CEP) on the impact of non-native speakers on the results of children in English primary schools suggests that even though many of the new arrivals spoke little or no English, their presence boosted performance among their British-born classmates.
Researchers led by Prof Sandra McNally, a professor of economics at Surrey University, who is also director of the CEP’s research programme on education, looked at data from the English schools census for the years 2005 to 2009.
"One possibility is that the children catch up fast and they may have other things about them in their own environment that make them good to have in your school, they might have very motivated parents for example," Sandra McNally, professor of economics at Surrey University, said.
A motivation frustrated by the dissatisfaction registered among Eastern European parents with the British education system, revealed by the study conducted at Strathclyde University on child migration (Eastern European parents dissatisfied with NHS and UK education system ). The alleged laxness of British schools and the little homework they give, have brought parents to believe that British schools do not require enough from children intellectually.
Census results found that schools with a higher percentage of children for whom English was not their first language did get lower results in English and maths tests, but when the results were adjusted to take into account other factors such as deprivation, no direct link was found.
When researchers switched their attention to white non-native speakers – mostly eastern Europeans – their focus was mainly on Catholic schools, where there was a more substantial improvement in test scores and where the percentage of white non-native children more than doubled between 2005 and 2009, from about 2% to nearly 4.5% of all pupils.
The period saw no decline in English results, despite the arrival of non-native speakers – and a small but noticeable upswing in maths results.
Researchers estimated that if new arrivals increased by 10%, there would be a full 1% improvement in English-born students test results.