There are more than a million children between 5–18 years old in UK schools who speak in excess of 360 languages between them.
In England, the results of the School Census undertaken each January by the Department for Education are published annually and in January 2013 this showed that one in six primary school pupils in England - 612,160 - do not have English as their first language. In secondary schools the figure stands at 436,150, just over one in eight. Once special schools and pupil referral units are taken into account, the total rises to just over a million at 1,061,010. These figures have more than doubled since 1997.
The number and percentage of bilingual or EAL pupils varies widely by school, school type and across the country. In 2013, 'converter academies' have a significantly smaller percentage of bilingual pupils than all other sorts of provision. In contrast, 'sponsored academies' have a higher percentage of bilingual pupils than other types of provision.
In 2013 the local authority areas with the highest proportion of EAL learners in primary schools are Tower Hamlets (76 percent) and Newham (75 percent). The local authority with the highest number of EAL pupils is Birmingham where 63,216 (or 40 percent)
The local authority areas with the smallest proportion of primary aged bilingual pupils are Redcar and Cleveland (0.9 percent), Halton (1.1), and Derbyshire (1.6). Rutland is the local authorority with the fewest EAL pupils - only 92 pupils in this local authority are bilingual.
There is also considerable local variation in the schools bilingual pupils attend. The Daily Telegragh (23.03.12) calculated that there are 1,363 primary schools, 224 secondary schools and 51 special schools where more than half the pupils are learning EAL. This included schools in places such as Brighton, Gloucestershire, Milton Keynes, Southampton, Surrey, Scunthorpe, Skipton and Windsor and Maidenhead as well as in large conurbations where global mobility is usually most evident.
The local authorities with the largest numbers of schools where bilingual pupils are in the majority within the north of England are Bradford (59), Manchester (35), Lancashire (30) and Kirklees (27). In the Midlands it is Birmingham (117) and Leicester (40). In the South it is Luton (22), Slough (19). London's highest figures are in Newham (79), Tower Hamlets (70), Brent (57) and Ealing (55).
Data source and archive information
EAL pupils in primary and secondary schools by LEA 2004-2013
Archive information showing number of EAL and ethnic minority pupils by local authority and nationally
EALand EM pupils 2013
EAL pupils 2012
EAL and EM pupils 2011
EAL and EM pupils 2010
EAL and EM pupils 2009
EAL and EM pupils 2008
EAL and EM pupils 2007
EAL and EM pupils 2006
EAL and EM pupils 2005
EAL and EM pupils 2004
EAL and EM pupils 1999
Data from the results of the 2013 Annual pupil census in publicly funded schools in Scotland indicated there are 29,532 bilingual primary and secondary school children in Scotland (4.4% of all pupils).
Summary Statistics for Schools (2013)
Summary Statistics for Schools (2012)
The 2013 annual pupil census in Northern Ireland recorded 10,357 'newcomer' pupils in schools (3.2 percent) compared to a figure of 1,366 in 2001/2 (0.4 percent). A newcomer pupil is one who has enrolled in a school but who does not have the satisfactory language skills to participate fully in the school curriculum, and the wider environment, and does not have a language in common with the teacher, whether that is English or Irish. This has previously been referred to as English an Additional Language. It does not refer to indigenous pupils who choose to attend an Irish medium school.
Newcomer Pupils (2001/02 - 2013/14) Department of Education, Northern Ireland
In 2013, there are 31,132 (6.7 percent) of primary and secondary pupils in Wales acquiring English as an additional language. These pupils are classified by stage of the 5-stage model for acquiring English as an additional language. Progression from Stage A to Stage E can take up to 10 years and individuals are likely to show characteristics of more than one ‘stage’ at a time. Schools make a judgement over which stage best describes an individual’s language development, taking into account age, ability and length of time learning English. The data source below gives the full details of bilingual pupils at each stage of development. The largest percentage of EAL learners are in Cardiff.
Data source and archive
Pupils in nursery, primary, middle and secondary schools acquiring EAL by local authority,region and stage of development (2003 2013)
Table 7.18 School Census in Wales 2012
Table 1.22 School Census in Wales, 2011