Population, language, ethnicity and socio-economic aspects of education

Lead Research Organisation: Institute of Education
Department Name: Humanities and Social Sciences


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Description The increasing linguistic diversity of the UK attracts much interest and debate among public service providers, educationalists and the public. Yet remarkably, little is known about the numbers of people who speak different languages, and the implications of this dimension of population composition and change. For the first time in 2008 a question asking about the language spoken at home was inserted into the Annual School Census (ASC).

We mapped the distribution of languages spoken for London state pupils in 2008. Around 60% of London pupils are English speakers however, there are over 40 languages spoken by more than 1,000 pupils where Bengali, Urdu and Somali are the top three languages spoken. Importantly, Arabic, French, Spanish and Portuguese transcend country origins and ethnicity.

By combining language spoken with ethnicity we shed new light on patterns of educational inequality. For example, 'black Africans' and 'White other' pupils are amongst the low attainers. Language provides an extra dimension: within the black African category English, Yoruba and Igbo speakers are amongst the high attainers and within the 'White Other' group Spanish, English, Greek, Serbian/Croatian/Bosnian and French appear amongst the high attainers.
We conducted more detailed analysis on data for the London Borough of Newham, in order to assess the principles and practicalities of combining PLASC data with other sources of data (e.g. on council tax and patient registration) and to demonstrate the value of using existing data. We consulted potential users in local and regional authorities on applications in policy and practice.
Exploitation Route To replicate and monitor the pattern of language diversity in London over time and to include other major cities, for example, Manchester.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Education

Description User Guide: proof of concept study on the combined use of administartive data
Geographic Reach Local/Municipal/Regional 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Description Local Authority Researchers 
Organisation Greater London Authority (GLA)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Seminar presentations and the production of a User Guide
Collaborator Contribution Participation in group meetings and membership of a project advisory group
Impact A user guide. The collaboration was multi-disciplinary and included academic geographers, statisticians, demographers and sociologists.
Start Year 2007
Description Visit to House of Lords, London, UK 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact To share findings and network

Broadened the reach of our work
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2009