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Non-English Speaking Schoolchildren

Oral Answers to Questions — Education and Skills – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 18th March 2004.

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Photo of Brian Iddon Brian Iddon Labour, Bolton South East 11:30 am, 18th March 2004

If he will make a statement on the funding available for the education of non-English speaking children in state schools.

Photo of Stephen Twigg Stephen Twigg Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education and Skills)

The formula for allocating funding for schools to local authorities will distribute £435 million in 2004–05, according to the numbers of pupils who have English as an additional language and minority ethnic pupils in state schools. Additional ring-fenced support is available via the ethnic minority achievement grant, which will increase from £155 million in the present year to £162 million in 2004–05.

Photo of Brian Iddon Brian Iddon Labour, Bolton South East

I am grateful for that answer. Mainly as a result of the National Asylum Support Service dispersal scheme, there are 226 children from 54 nations placed in Bolton's schools today. Many of them are concentrated in just a few schools in my constituency. Does my hon. Friend think that the money that he has just announced will allow teachers in those schools to meet the considerable challenges that they face day in, day out? Is it fair that non-English speaking children should be included in the rigours of SATs, with the inevitable result that those schools appear unfairly low in the league tables?

Photo of Stephen Twigg Stephen Twigg Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education and Skills)

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for raising an important set of issues. We made some changes to the SATs a couple of years ago to take account of children who had arrived in the country recently, which made the accountability framework much fairer. I recognise that for some of the most challenged schools funds will be limited, which is why the Department is also looking at the issue of mobility for the future. Mobility is a complex issue that does not apply only in cases of asylum seeking and ethnic minority children. There are particular problems for schools facing those challenges, and we are addressing the issue for the future.