A Fifth of Primary Children Are from an Ethnic Minority

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Byline: SARAH HARRIS

ONE in five primary school children is from an ethnic minority, official statistics show.

And English is now the second language for more pupils than ever before.

The figures, published by the Department for Education and Skills in its annual school census, show the biggest year on year increase in children from ethnic backgrounds for a decade.

They account for 18.7 per cent of England's 6.7million primary and secondary school pupils, compared to 11 per cent in 1996.

In primary schools alone, the figure is 20.6 per cent, up from 19.3 per cent in 2005. This represents almost 690, 000 pupils.

The upward trend is mirrored in secondary schools, with 16.8 per cent of pupils classified as ethnic minority compared to 15.9 per cent last year.

This translates to 555, 500 pupils.

There has also been a sharp rise in the number of pupils for whom English is not the first language.

At primary school, the proportion in this category has risen from 11.6 per cent last year to 12.5 per cent.

In secondary schools, it is up from 9 to 9.5 per cent.

The proportion across primary and secondary schools who speak English as an additional language has risen from 7.5 per cent in 1997 to 11 per cent this year.

The figures are published a week after the Office for National Statistics revealed that immigration was at historically high levels.

The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, meanwhile, is urging primary school teachers to include a greater range of world literature in lessons due to the ethnic make up of classrooms.

New guidance suggests that teachers use more books from countries including Pakistan, Ethiopia, Jamaica, Korea and the Middle East.

In February the QCA revealed that immigrant children would be able to sit national curriculum tests in their own language for the first time. …