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Foreign pupil numbers hit all-time high

PUBLISHED: 11:02 20 March 2009 | UPDATED: 13:24 03 July 2010

The number of foreign children in East Anglia's schools has more than doubled in the last few years - dwarfing a steadier rise across England.

The increase flies in the face of predictions that many migrant families would head for home because of the recession and the plummeting value of the pound.

The number of foreign children in East Anglia's schools has more than doubled in the last few years - dwarfing a steadier rise across England.

The increase flies in the face of predictions that many migrant families would head for home because of the recession and the plummeting value of the pound.

A continuing flow of migrant workers, particularly from Eastern Europe and Portugal, has pushed the proportion of overseas children to

all-time highs of one in 17 pupils in Cambridgeshire, one in 18 in Suffolk and one in 28 in Norfolk.

The regional averages are much lower than the national figures, with 915,000 children speaking English as a foreign language - including 566,000 (14.3pc of the total) in primary schools and 349,000 (10pc) in secondaries.

But, in contrast to the numbers more than doubling across East Anglia, in England they have risen by about a quarter since 2004.

In Norfolk, children with English as a foreign language numbered 1,971 (1.7pc of the total pupils) in 2004. This year it has hit a new high of 4,005 (3.6pc).

Like-for-like figures are not available in each county, but in Suffolk there are currently 5,357 (5.4pc), compared with 2,112 (2pc) in 2005. In Cambridgeshire, numbers rose from 2,500 (3.6pc) in 2004 to 4,625 (5.9pc) in 2008.

In the county, Portuguese children continue to lead the way, with 876 in schools - up from 810 last year. Next come Polish children, up from 358 to 474 in a year.

In total, there are 103 different languages spoken in Norfolk schools, including:

Lithuanian (271 pupils)

Bengali (150)

Russian (124)

Chinese (119)

Arabic (111).

A host of rarer languages and dialects are also spoken by single pupils, including Gaelic, Hebrew, Kisii (Kenya), Maori, Ndebele (Zimbabwe), Cambodian/Khmer, Turkmen and Xhosa.

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