Report on language diversity and attainment
Pupils who speak English as a second language are actually achieving less well relative to English first language pupils in all English regions except Inner London, a new report commissioned by Arvon finds. This is counter to recent press coverage celebrating the higher attainment of such pupils.
Arvon commissioned The Institute for Policy Studies in Education (IPSE) at London Metropolitan University to research linguistic diversity and attainment in England’s schools to identify which groups of bilingual or multilingual students are performing less well at school, and which regions of the country they are located in. This research will be used to identify the bilingual communities that Arvon will work with during the next stage of Arvon’s (M)Other Tongue, a creative writing project led by Arvon for young people from communities in the UK to write in their mother tongue and English side by side, exploring both languages and cultures.
The report analyses a combination of GCSE attainment by first language other than English, attainment by ethnicity and available local authority information on specific linguistic communities in select regions.
Whilst it is known that language barriers clearly impact on the attainment of some minority ethnic groups, data on attainment gaps are only published by ethnicity and not by language spoken.
This research illustrates the diverse nature of current ethnic group categories and calls for a rethink of the categories we use to understand educational disadvantage.
(M)Other Tongues has been developed with funding support from the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and the pilot of Mother Tongues has so far benefited 48 young people from Lambeth. In December 2009, 16 young people from Brazil, Portugal and Mozambique took part in a week-long residential led by two professional writers who communicate in both Portuguese and English at Lumb Bank, Arvon’s centre in Yorkshire. Following the success of the first residential, a second Portuguese group took part in 2010 and a third group of Yoruba speakers of Nigerian heritage in March 2011.
Over the next two years four groups of 16 bi-lingual young people who share a common mother tongue alongside English, will have the chance to experience the transforming power of spending a week at one of our centres to focus on their ability to write, and speak, in two languages.
This work will be complemented by introductory workshops at the young peoples’ schools, a celebratory sharing event with young people’s parents, peers and the wider community, post- residential workshops and online platforms for young people to continue to develop their writing.
The full report is available here: http://www.londonmet.ac.uk/research-units/ipse/research-projects/current-projects/p111.cfm