DIST – Analyses of National Migration/Integration in a UK Context.

DIST – Analyses of National Migration/Integration in a UK Context.

Current Migration/Integration:

What are currently relevant migrant groups (at school)? Where do they come from? Will they stay – or how long?

The UK’s National school census published in January 2016 reported that there has been a rise in the number of pupils classified as from minority ethnic backgrounds currently attending school.[1] This number has thought to have been ‘rising steadily since 2006’.  The report suggests that within primary schools, the percentage number of pupils from minority ethnic backgrounds was 31.4% ‘an increase from 30.4% [since] January 2015.’ It further states that ‘[m]inority ethnic pupils made up 71% of the increase in pupil numbers in primary schools between 2015 and 2016.’ Whereas ‘in secondary schools, 27.9% of pupils are of minority ethnic origins, an increase from 26.6% in 2015.’

The report also points to a change in the demographic of the student population within UK schools, suggesting, ‘[w]hite non-British pupils now make up 7.1% of the population in primary schools […] the second largest ethnic minority, after pupils from Asian origins, who continue to be the largest minority.’ In addition, ‘pupils from Asian and Black origins are the two largest minorities in secondary schools.’

Where do they come from? Will they stay – or how long?

The duration of stay for these students is hard to establish, with some of this difficultly owing to terminology relating to migration. For example, the term long migration is considered of anyone staying for more than 12 months, with no upper limit of time. However, their length of stay is often connected to the family’s purpose for moving to the UK.  Full Fact suggests that ‘[t]he most common reason non-British citizens reported for coming to the UK in 2016 was work. About 226,000 (50%) came for work, followed by those who came for study (124,000 or 27%). Family reasons for migrating were reported by 77,000 or 17% of migrants.’  EU citizens were particularly likely to report coming for work, while non-EU citizens were more likely to report coming for study or family.’[2]

Full Fact also suggests that there are more than 3 million EU migrants in UK, and it is still a question what will happen to them after Britain leaves European Union. After the vote Leave, 120 000 of them left the UK.[3] Whereas Refugee Action reports that in 2015 there were 117,234 refugees, 37,829 pending asylum cases and 16 stateless persons in the UK. [4]


How are they included into the educational system? Are there specific organizational approaches?

There is a broad approach to educational inclusion in the UK that provides funding for children as young as three to enter early education of up to 520 hours per year. This includes both home and international children who have a residency in the UK. In 2013, the entitlement was extended to 2-year-olds who fulfilled eligibility criteria. Following this, once reaches either 4 or 5 years old, depending on their birth month, they are entitled to a free education at a state school up to the age of 16, which is followed by fee further education study until 18 if the students meet the grade requirements. The majority of primary and secondary schools follow the national curriculum, this directs the school on the subjects taught and the expected standards children should reach in each subject. The National curriculum act as a way of ensuring equal educational rights for all children in the UK.

In the Brief Summary of Government Policy for EAL (English as a second language) last updated in 2012, government has determined that ‘[t]he local authorities have a legal duty to ensure that education is available for all children of compulsory school age irrespective of a child’s immigration status, country of origin or rights of residence in a particular area.”[5]

A subsequent report published in 2015 by the Department for Education documented the fact that migrant children, who upon their arrival had problems joining the UK education system, later show very different speed of progress. Some nationalities significantly outperform the English average (Chinese, Sri Lankan, Indian, Iranian), while some groups do much worse (Turkish, Somali, Jamaican, Pakistani).[6]

UK have faced a growing challenge with segregation of communities, which has additionally led to segregation within schools. One challenge within this regard is faith schools, or those schools that actively celebrate and teach in line with a particular religion, which may lead to the segregation of children from other or no religious backgrounds. It is thought that around 34% of schools in England and 14% of schools in Wales have such a religious focus.[7]

In 2016 Dame Louise Casey published a 200-page review that criticized the growing segregation and integration challenges within communities in Britain, drawing attention to attention to difficulties of gender equality, deprivation, social and community cohesion and immigration. One key section of her report focused on young people and the segregation within education system that praises some of the current opportunities for young people, but also makes recommendations for change.[8] As a response, the Government has recently published The Integrated Communities Strategy Green Paper (which is open to consultation with public until 5th of June 2018), its vision for building strong integrated communities, and actions proposed to deliver this, allocating an additional £50 million to create a stronger, more united Britain.[9] One of the areas on which the paper focuses is the school system and integration, suggesting that ‘[s]egregated schools reduce opportunities for children and young people to mix with others from different backgrounds in their formative years and it can restrict pupils’ outlook and education.’[10]

How are language problems dealt with?

The last population census conducted in the United Kingdom, on 27 March 2011, (the census is taken every ten years) reported that 54% of foreign-born children aged 3-15 years old did not have English as their first language. However, a majority (78%) of 3-15 year old with another first language were reported as speaking English well or very well.

The Migration Observatory analysed the microdata of this census and found that

[m]any of those who did not speak English well or very well would be very young children who have not yet been exposed to UK schooling. Among all children (both UK and non-UK born) who did not speak English well or very well in 2011, the majority (55%) were 3 to 4 years old. Among non-UK born children 3-15 years old whose first language was not English, the three most commonly spoken languages were Polish (19%), Arabic (6%) and Urdu (4%). EAL students with English as their main language who were born in the UK or arrived age 0-4 do not differ significantly in achievement at age 14 from English only speakers. In contrast, EAL students who still have a language other than English as their first or main language at age 14 achieve lower scores, regardless of when they arrived in the UK. Within all groups, attainment at age 14 is lower among students who have very recently arrived in the UK at age 11-14.[11]

In addition, the National statistics for pupils and school attainment suggested that ‘In primary schools, 20.1% of pupils are exposed to a language known or believed to be other than English in their home. This is an increase of 0.7 percentage points since January 2015, […]  been steadily rising since 2006. In secondary schools, 15.7% of pupils are exposed to a non-English language in their home. This rate has also steadily increased over the last ten years and by 0.7 percentage points since January 2015.’[12]

Department of Education published a national strategy for meeting the needs of newly arrived learners of English as an additional language (EAL) [13] with the following aims:

– Providing a welcoming environment

– Supporting children learning English as an additional language

– Establishing and maintaining an inclusive and welcoming ethos and curriculum across the whole school

– Establishing and maintaining strong links with parents and carers and communities[14]

To support this development, some schools receive funding from local authorities based on the number of pupils with EAL, but there is no central government funding specifically aimed to this cause. The local authorities funding is only provided in the first three years of bilingual children attending compulsory schooling in the UK.[15]

Continuing (Migration/) Integration

Are there groups of second/third generation migrant groups still facing integrational thresholds? Why are the ‘still’ different? Does (how) the school system reflect that?

Despite second/third generation migrants often identifying themselves as British, issues of integration and segregation continue based on their family’s ethnic or social backgrounds. A 2013 Demos study found that ‘more than 50% of ethnic minority students were in schools where ethnic minorities were the majority, and that school segregation was highest among students from Pakistani and Bangladeshi ethnic backgrounds relative to other ethnic groups. (…) Taken together, high ethnic minority concentration in residential areas and in schools increases the likelihood of children growing up without meeting or better understanding people from different backgrounds’.[16]

The Challenge, a charity who actively works to aid social integration found out that 25% of primary and 40% of secondary schools are ethnically divided.[17] The British Broadcasting Company subsequently followed up on their report, issuing a warning that segregation in UK schools is an important and ongoing challenge.  The Challenge found ‘secondary schools were more likely to be segregated by ethnicity than socio-economic status, while primary schools were more likely to be segregated along socio-economic lines. Primary faith schools were more ethnically segregated than those of no faith (29% against 25%) when compared with neighbouring schools, the study found.”[18]


In a 2014 report, Demos also highlighted the connection between integration issues and segregation within schools with the reduced likelihood of job attainment, arguing that there is a ‘lack of diversity within top professions in the UK. Only 7 per cent of the public has attended private school; yet 71 per cent of senior judges, 45 per cent of public body chairs, 44 per cent of the Sunday Times Rich List, 43 per cent of newspaper columnists, and 33 per cent of MPs have been to private school.”[19]

Other Integrational Thresholds

Are there further groups that are systematically discussed concerning their integration at school (e.g. handicapped or gender diverse people)?

The independent review by Dame Louise Casey into opportunity and integration additionally found that

while children from many ethnic minorities are increasingly matching or outperforming White British pupils in education, there is growing evidence of poorer White British boys, in particular, falling behind. White British pupils on Free School Meals are less than half as likely to achieve five or more good GCSEs as pupils who are not eligible for Free School Meals. Students eligible for Free School Meals are half as likely as all other students to go to the top third of higher education institutions, and less than half as likely to go to a Russell Group institution.[20]

Currently in the UK, free primary school meals for those children from low economic backgrounds are available for free. It is thought that around ‘14.5% of pupils are known to be eligible for, and claiming, free school meals. In secondary schools, it is 13.2% based on household income and benefit receipt.’ [21] These statistics support the arguments made by Dame Louise Casey that there are many children from low economic backgrounds are many within UK schools might lead to lower educational attainment.

The Department for Education also published data on Special educational needs (SEN) in UK in 2016. The report suggested that there are around ‘1.23 million pupils with SEN in schools in England [representing] 14.4 percent of all pupils. Of these, 237,000 have a statement of SEN or EHC plan (2.8% of all pupils) and 992,000 have SEN Support (11.6% of all pupils).’[22]

Children who have previously experienced state run care are also at risk of lower attainment and integration. It is thought that these children may have ‘special educational needs’ and need support to ‘reach their full educational potential – an important part […] a local authority’s corporate parent role.’[23]


How are teachers supported to deal with migration/integration?

Many teachers in the UK are under pressure to achieve set targets which are even harder to reach when they have children who need help with language, experience learning or mental health difficulties, or as asylum seekers have court meetings and have low attendance.

The department for education and skills recognizes that ‘[a] school which meets a child’s academic and social needs is one where that child will feel happy.’[24] However, teachers are often left on their own in managing how to provide emotional support and pastoral care to vulnerable students.

The schools often don’t receive funding for special teacher training, but they create partnerships with charities such as the Refugee Support Network, Young Roots and Paiwand to work together with refugees and asylum seekers. Also, many teachers report they are seeking for help online from organisations such as the British Council  which offers a valuable source of materials for Innovations in English language teaching for migrants and refugees.[25] The book is free to download, and provides advice for teachers on different aspects like: Writing bilingual stories: developing children’s literacy through home languages; The use of mobile technologies as a bridge to enhance learning for ESOL students; Responsive teaching and learner centredness; Creative ESOL: the power of participatory arts in language acquisition.

In addition, organisations such as NALDIC, the national subject association for EAL, offer guidance and materials on informal educational areas such as welcoming children to the school, peer support and supporting emotional needs.


Websites with specific information:

  1. The Migration Observatory


  1. The School Dash


  1. NALDIC, the national subject association for EAL


  1. The Challenge

Further Introductory Literature

  1. Ainscow, M, Booth, T and Dyson, A (2006) Improving Schools, Developing Inclusion, London, Routledge
  2. Cummins, J (2000) Language, power and pedagogy, Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters
  3. Geay, Charlotte, Sandra McNally and Shqiponja Telhaj. “Non-native speakers of English in the classroom: what are the effect on pupil performance?” CEE DP 137, Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE, Feb 2012.
  4. OFSTED (2001) Managing Support for the Attainment of Pupils from Minority Ethnic Groups, London, OFSTED
  5. OFSTED (2001) Raising the Achievement of Young People in Public Care, London, OFSTED
  6. Rutter, Jill, Moving Up and Getting on: Migration, Integration and Social Cohesion, 2015, Policy Press at the University of Bristol
  7. Strand, Steve, Lars Malmberg, and James Hall. “English as an Additional Language (EAL) and educational achievement in England: An analysis of the National Pupil Database.” Department of Education, University of Oxford, Jan 2015.



  1. School Approaches to the Education of EAL students


  1. Understanding school segregation in England: 2011-2016


  1. Innovations in English language teaching for migrants and refugees, edited by David Mallows, British Council, 2012


  1. The Integrated Communities Strategy Green Paper https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/696993/Integrated_Communities_Strategy.pdf
  2. Aiming High: Meeting the needs of newly arrived learners of English as an additional language (EAL)


  1. Aiming High: Guidance on Supporting the Education of Asylum Seeking and Refugee Children


  1. Provision for children under five years of age in England, January 2017


  1. NALDIC- New Arrivals Excellence Programme Guidance https://www.naldic.org.uk/Resources/NALDIC/Teaching%20and%20Learning/naep.pdf


  1. Promoting the education of looked-after children and previously looked-after children, Department for Education


  1. Impact of migration on the consumption of education and children’s services and the consumption of health services, social care and social services, National Institute of Economic and Social Research






[1] https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/schools-pupils-and-their-characteristics-january-2016

[2] https://fullfact.org/immigration/why-do-international-migrants-come-uk/

[3] https://fullfact.org/immigration/why-do-international-migrants-come-uk/

[4] https://www.refugee-action.org.uk/about/facts-about-refugees/

[5] https://www.naldic.org.uk/Resources/NALDIC/Research%20and%20Information/Documents/Brief_summary_of_Government_policy_for_EAL_Learners.pdf

[6] https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/439861/RR439A-Ethnic_minorities_and_attainment_the_effects_of_poverty.pdf

[7] https://humanism.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/schools-with-a-religious-character.pdf

[8] Read the full research here https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/575973/The_Casey_Review_Report.pdf

[9] You can read the paper here and join the debate https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/integrated-communities-strategy-green-paper

[10] ibid

[11] http://www.migrationobservatory.ox.ac.uk/resources/briefings/educational-outcomes-among-children-english-additional-language-eal/

[12] https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/552342/SFR20_2016_Main_Text.pdf

[13] https://www.naldic.org.uk/Resources/NALDIC/Teaching%20and%20Learning/naep.pdf


[15] https://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/CDP-2015-0016


[17] https://the-challenge.org/uploads/documents/TCN-Understanding-School-Segregation-in-England-2011-to-2016.pdf

[18] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-39344973

[19] https://www.demos.co.uk/project/rising-to-the-top/








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