Blaming kids the UKIP way

I wrote this blog a year ago and true to form UKIP and the Daily Express are leading the charge on children who dare to speak more than one language. The express article claimes a special invesigation, however the figures for children who speak more than one language are readily available. An annual census is completed by schools. The last one was used to inform a report on best practices in EAL teaching. It’s along report one which I have read as part of my CPD as a teacher. The report clearly states in its introduction:

The original blog post is posted below and applies today as much as it did when it was originally written. 

A quote by UKIP master of miscommunication, Patrick O’Flynn has revealed yet again the ignorance of kippers when it comes to education, quoted in his old newspaper, he states the need for migrants to make “major tax contributions to cover the extra public services costs” and that migrants should ensure that ” their children are already fluent in English”
A link to the article was posted by UKIP Communities Spokesperson Suzanne Evans ( a post she is obviously not suited for, but then no one in UKIP would be). The comments that then followed are to be expected when dealing with the uncomprehending supporters and members of UKIP.

There is the usual total misunderstanding of the issue, it’s not that they do not speak English, but that English is their second language. They may well be fluent in both.


Then there is the how can they learn anything if they can not speak English. They learn English and then guess what they out perform kids of a similar economic background who spoke English when they arrived at school.


The perennial it will disadvantage “native” kids, forgetting that some of these kids have been born here and grown up in households who speak one language at home and one outside of the home, some will be refugees and yes some will be here with their parents who are here working and contributing to the tax system.


As usual with large swathes of UKIP this is not about EU migration but about Muslims, wicked EU plans and conspiracy theories .. Deserving of tin foil hats and counselling. I am not sure whether to laugh or cry at this conversation between UKIP supporters


As usual UKIP ignore the realities of bilingual students. Two studies one undertaken in Holland and reported on here and this one in the UK, found that there was little or no effect on the education of native English speakers when large numbers of non native speakers are taught side by side with them.

To quote from the report ..

“primary-aged students catch up in English proficiency at a rate such that they do not impede the progress of their native-speaking peers”.
East Europeans also improved maths performance in their schools, possibly because “these . . . families . . . influence other children or the classroom environment in a positive way . . . This could be [because of their] better behaviour or a stronger work ethos”.

As someone who has taught in schools with high numbers of students who are non English speakers and has inspected schools in the same situation, I am confident that when you do have students who speak little of no English it improves your teaching .. You use more visual and kinaesthetic teaching styles, you think more carefully about how to enthuse students and you presume less about the understanding of concepts, this is to the benefit of all your students. (Just consider the advice in this document for primary school teachers) It is no coincidence that of the ten schools with the highest numbers of non English speakers, 8 have been rated as good or outstanding. To reach outstanding all the students in the school will have to overachieved according to Fischer Family Trust predictions – not just the non English speakers!

There is good research to show that students who are allowed to use both languages that they speak in school achieve better results and that parents should be encouraged to ensure their kids are bilingual. How that would horrify the little englander kippers!

If we are looking to the future economic success of Britain a large number of bilingual adults will help us reap the rewards of a global economy, with adults who are better problem solvers, able to communicate confidently with our trading partners around the world. These bilingual adults will have better cognitive functions and if they continue to use both languages are less likely to suffer from problems of dementia in old age.

UKIP need to stop scaremongering. Either they misunderstand and therefore need to do some actual research or they are deliberately using young students to frighten the British public. Sadly I suspect for UKIP leadership it’s the latter and for those who follow blindly the former.


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