Education news

Almost nine in 10 pupils at one primary school from overseas

There are now more than 10,000 `newcomer' children in primary education across the north

ALMOST nine in every 10 pupils at one Co Armagh primary school come from overseas.

There are now more than 10,000 `newcomer' children in primary education across the north.

Schools have been experiencing a steady growth in enrolment of pupils from various parts of the world who are used to different languages and cultures.

Polish children are the largest newcomer group, followed by Lithuanian and Portuguese children.

The Department of Education says overseas children enrich the diversity of schools and cultural perspectives.

They have also significantly changed the range of languages spoken.

In the 2017/18 school year, there are approximately 90 first languages spoken by pupils, with Polish and Lithuanian being the most common behind English.

The term 'newcomer' is used to refer to a child who has enrolled in a school but who does not have satisfactory language skills to participate fully in the curriculum and does not have a language in common with the teacher.

The total number of newcomers across all schools in 2017/18 is 15,220 - up 1,277 from last year.

Of these, 10,724 are in primary schools - 6.2 per cent of all primary pupils.

The figure has risen sharply from 5,969 five years ago.

More than half of all pupils at a small number of schools in the primary sector are from overseas.

Presentation PS, a Catholic maintained school in Portadown, has the highest proportion - 87.2 per cent.

It has been high and rising for years. Five years ago the figure stood at 163, or 65.2 per cent of the total enrolment.

St Patrick's PS in Dungannon has the highest total number of newcomer pupils - 692 of its enrolment of 839 (82.5 per cent).

At Fane Street PS in south Belfast, almost two-thirds of pupils are from immigrant families, hailing from more than 20 countries.

Among secondary schools, 41.4 per cent of pupils at St Patrick's College in Ballymena are newcomers, while St John The Baptist College in Portadown has 38.8 per cent.

The only other post-primaries with more than 20 per cent are City of Armagh High School and Corpus Christi College in west Belfast.

Department of Education figures also show that schools are becoming more ethnically diverse.

There are more than 14,400 pupils recorded as "non-white" - 4.2 per cent of the school population.

This is an increase of more than 4,400 pupils and 1.1 percentage points compared to five years prior.

The department said the growth in diversity "may be explained by increased levels of migration among school age children over the last number of years".


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