Does this seem familiar? How many languages in your school?

The Daily Mail has reported this story of a school where 31 languages are spoken Charles Walford writes:

Controlling a primary school class can be testing for teachers at the best of times.

So spare a thought for those at the English Martyrs’ Catholic School in Birmingham where the 414 pupils speak an incredible 31 languages between them.

As this picture shows, children at the school who speak English as their first language are in a tiny minority.

This is an all too familiar pattern in areas of the UK, yet Teachers are expected to teach them as if they were natives and have been through the education system but without any support or guidance on what to do when they find that they cannot speak to these children themselves. Sadly the feeling of loss of confidence and decreased self esteem are not uncommon.

Yet these teachers and pupils in Birmingham are bucking the trend as:

Despite the challenges facing teachers, the diversity appears to have improved results at the school in Sparkhill.

New head Evelyn Harper attributes top SATs scores to the value many of the pupils’ home cultures place on learning.

Last year 91 per cent of pupils achieved the benchmark level four or above in English, and 89 per cent in maths

  • Languages spoken range from Polish, Romanian and Spanish, to Arifkaans, Tamil and Arabic
  • More than 90 per cent of students achieved the benchmark level four or above in their English SAT

What is your success story? How many languages do the pupils speak in your school? but more interestingly How many languages do your staff speak in your school? Is there a huge mismatch? How are we going to resolve this mismatch?

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