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Students with English as a second language 'outperform native speakers' in GCSEs

The Independent     March 6, 2014

White British boys from working class families worst performing group

Children who speak English as a second language are outperforming native speakers in GCSE exams, official figures show.

Lord Nash, the Schools Minister, said students who speak English as an additional language (EAL) scored better grades in the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) than native speakers. The worst performing group was white British boys from working class families.

The figures also revealed the number of pupils who have English as their second language has risen by a fifth to 1.1 million in the past five years in England.

English is no longer the first language for most pupils in one out of nine schools.

Lord Nash said in the House of Lords: "Pupils with EAL progress very well and have higher EBacc scores. Indeed, sadly, it is many white, working-class British boys with English as a first language who do particularly badly."

The EBacc was introduced by the Coalition after the last General Election in a bid to strengthen core academic subjects including English, maths, science, foreign languages and either history or geography.

Approximately 35 per cent of native speakers studied all five subjects and 22.5 per cent of them obtained the Ebacc. Students who speak English as second language outperformed their peers with 37.2 per cent taking all give subjects and 24.4 per cent obtaining the EBacc.

White British pupils eligible for free school meals were the worst achievers, with just six per cent gaining the EBacc last year, although this was an improvement from just three per cent in 2011.

However, using an alternative measure of school performance, non-English speakers perform worse with 58.3 per cent of them gaining five A* to C GCSEs- including English and maths- compared to 60.9 per cent of native speakers.

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