Bilingual pupils outperform native Britons, study finds

Bilingual pupils with English as a second language outperform native Britons throughout their school years, study finds

  • Pupils who speak English as a second language outperform native Britons
  • Oxford University study suggests bilingual pupils record better school results
  • Researchers looked at 14,000 pupils in six local authorities, and found bilingual children outperform native Britons at EVERY age and year group, study finds

Bilingual pupils who speak English as their second language outperform native Britons throughout their school years, researchers found.

The study found that bilingual children were stronger at school than their monolingual peers at the ages of five, seven, eleven and at their GCSEs.

Teenagers who don’t speak English as their first language performed better than native speakers in GCSEs for the first time this summer.

Teenagers who don’t speak English as their first language performed better than native speakers in GCSEs for the first time this summer [File photo]

The Oxford University study suggested that fluent bilingual pupils – who do not speak English as their mother tongue – record better school performances at every age.

Researchers looked at the results of 14,000 pupils across 15,000 schools in six local authorities deemed to be representative of the country, the Times reported.

The findings – published by social mobility charity the Bell Foundation – found that by the end of reception, 88 per cent of non-native fluent English speakers achieved a good level of development.


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This contrasted with 72.9 per cent of their monolingual classmates and a national average of 70.9 per cent.

More than 90 per cent of 7-year-olds fluent in speaking English as a second language were reaching the required reading level, compared with 86.2 per cent of children who spoke English competently as a second language. 

The figure for those who were monolingual, meanwhile, was 76.1 per cent.

The national average stands at 75.5 per cent.

More than 90 per cent of 7-year-olds fluent in speaking English as a second language were reaching the required reading level, compared with 86.2 per cent of children who spoke English competently as a second language [File photo]

The report said: ‘The results show clearly the average for EAL pupils obscure huge variation, with only 34 per cent of those new to English achieving a good level of development (aged 5), compared to nearly 90 per cent among the one third of EAL pupils rated as competent or above.

‘This has significant implications. For example, the national funding formula includes a fixed element for all EAL pupils in their first three years at school but clearly some of these pupils need substantially more support than others. The low levels of fluency in English in the early years suggest that language support would be most warranted in key stage 1. The earlier a pupil catches up with their language skills, the earlier they can access the curriculum. In later years, support may be needed for fewer pupils.’

Thoms Bak, a cognitive neuroscientist, said: ‘The realisation that learning languages is a great asset is making its way, albeit slowly, into the general consciousness.

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