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MORE than a quarter of primary school children in Bolton do not speak English as their first language, official figures show.

And the number of children classed as “minority ethnic” has increased in a year.

But borough education chiefs say schools have developed a range of teaching approaches to “build on linguistic diversity”.

Data released by the Department for Education shows 5,238 youngsters in Bolton do not have English as their mother tongue, more than 25 per cent of the children of compulsory school age and above.


The North West average is just over 13 per cent.

In secondary schools almost 20 per cent of pupils, or 3,627, did not have English as a first language — the North West average stood at just over nine per cent.

Figures show that of the 20,460 primary school population, “White British” made up the largest group, having 13,543 pupils, with Asian as the next largest with 4,525.

Of the 18,525 secondary school pupils, white British children stood at 13,562 and Asians at 3,290.

Children classed as “minority ethnic” in secondary schools had risen by 222 to 4,895, and in primary school had increased by 499 to 6,839. A Bolton Council spokes-man said: “The statistics reveal that around a quarter of Bolton’s children have English as an additional language.


“Those of our schools that face these challenges have embraced this with our support, and developed a range of approaches to teaching and learning which build upon linguistic diversity.”

A national breakdown of the statistics, which are a snapshot of England’s schools taken in January, show that more than 18 per cent of primary school pupils speak a first language that is not English, along with almost 14 per cent of pupils in secondary schools.

Almost a million primary school children, 28.5 per cent, are considered to be from a minority ethnic background, along with a nearly a quarter of those taught in state secondaries.

Last year almost 28 per cent of primary school children and more than 23 per cent of those in secondary schools were classed as being of “minority ethnic origin”.

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