New analysis reveals English fluency among EAL school pupils


More than a third of pupils with English as an additional language (EAL) are fluent, new government analysis shows.

The results are based on data on language proficiency, gathered as part of the school census between 2016 and 2018 by the Department for Education.

From assessments carried out in spring 2018, 36% of EAL pupils were found to be ‘fluent’, with a further 25% assessed as ‘competent’, 21% as ‘developing competency’, 11% as being ‘early acquisition’ and 6% ‘new to English’.

Despite the figures, there were also widespread fluctuations in English fluency based on the characteristics of pupils.

Factors such as the age of pupils and the amount of time spent in the English education system had a key influence on results.

For instance, 77% of EAL pupils in secondary schools were deemed to be fluent or competent in English, whereas that figure was 51% at primary level.

Likewise, 80% of pupils who have spent five years or more in an English school were fluent or competent, compared to 40% of pupils who have spent between one and four years in the education system.

Pupils were also more likely to be fluent in English if they are based in the south of the country, with 65% of those in London and 66% of those in the south east assessed as fluent, compared to 54% in the north east and north west.

The gathering of English data was introduced in 2016, but was scrapped several years later as its collection was deemed to be too divisive – as a result, the analysis is based on very limited data.

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