The Daily Telegraph

Native speakers score lowest in English Sats

‘Ambitious’ immigrant families give children more support in learning language and maths skills

- By Louisa Clarence-smith EDUCATION EDITOR

Eleven-year-olds who speak English as a second language have overtaken their native classmates in reading, writing and maths for the first time.

Only 58 per cent of native English speakers at the end of primary school met the expected overall standard in reading, writing and maths in the last academic year, compared with 60 per cent of those pupils whose first language was not English.

The findings come after a record overall drop in Standard Assessment Tests (Sats) results for pupils in England in the wake of the pandemic.

However, in the first examinatio­ns taken since 2019, results for native English-speaking pupils fell more sharply than those from immigrant families or whose first language was not English.

Figures released by the Department for Education show a seven percentage point drop in English pupils achieving the expected standard, compared with a four percentage point fall among pupils who are not native English speakers.

Prof Alan Smithers, director of the Centre for Education and Employment, said the results reflect the “ambition” of immigrant families and the varying levels of support given to children during Covid lockdowns.

He said: “Many people from a nontraditi­onal English background have come to this country full of ambition and are determined their children should do well. So they would have ensured their children were following what the school was asking them to do, but also feeding in help themselves.”

He added: “We British tend to take it all a bit for granted and the temptation to do other things [during pandemic lockdowns] may have become too great.

“In England, we’ve got a bit complacent because there’s very strong welfare support and there’s a feeling that you can do your own thing and society will look after you and it isn’t necessary to apply yourself to your education to actually get on in life,” Prof Smithers said. Ethnic Indian pupils were the highestach­ieving group with 74 per cent meeting expected overall standards in reading, mathematic­s and writing, followed by ethnic Chinese pupils at 70 per cent. The proportion of white British pupils meeting expected standards was 65 per cent. The lowest-achieving ethnic group was Gipsy pupils, with only 15 per cent meeting standards.

A larger proportion, at 8 per cent, of pupils from immigrant families, achieved a higher standard overall for reading, writing and maths, compared to 7 per cent of native English pupils. In 2019, the two groups were joint at 11 per cent achieving the higher standard.

Pupils with a foreign first language overtook English pupils in maths, with 75 per cent meeting the expected standard compared to 71 per cent of domestic pupils.

Writing skills were equal between both groups, with 70 per cent meeting the expected standard.

In reading, English pupils were slightly better, with 75 per cent meeting standards compared with 73 per cent for pupils with a foreign first language.

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