Pupils who speak English as a second language are now outperforming native speakers at GCSEs for the first time, official figures show.
Data released today by the Department for Education (DfE) shows that children who grow up speaking a language other than English now have a higher attainment score than their native-speaking peers by the time they are 16.
The figures also showed that rising numbers of secondary schools are considered under-performing, meaning they fall below the “floor standard”.
One in eight of England’s mainstream secondaries – 365 in total – fell below the government’s minimum standards in 2017.This is up from 282 schools, just under one in 10 – the year before.
The DfE suggested that the rise in under-performing schools is because of technical changes to the points system used by government statisticians to calculate a school’s performance.
In previous years, schools have been ranked according to the proportion of pupils achieving at least five grade A* to Cs at GCSE, including English and maths.
This measure was scrapped last year in favour of Attainment 8, with a score based on eight GCSE subjects, with a double weighting given to english and maths.
This year, the average Attainment 8 score of children who speak English as a second language was 46.8, compared to 46.3 for native speakers.
Meanwhile, the previous year native speakers were narrowly ahead, with an average score of 50.0 compared to 49.9 for non-native speakers.
Last year was also the first time that schools were measured for progress as well as attainment. Progress 8, which measures progress of each pupil from the end of primary school up to GCSEs.
It compares pupils’ results with the achievements of other pupils that have the same prior attainment and measures performance across eight “core” qualifications.
Both this year and last, children with English as a second language made better progress on average than native speakers, although this year the gap widened between the two.
The data, which covers every secondary in England, shows that London has the lowest proportion of under-performing schools while the North East had the highest.
For the first time this year, the data includes English and maths GCSE results awarded under the new 9-1 grading system.
The figures also show that the attainment gap between rich and poor pupils has narrowed by 3.2 per cent since 2016.
Schools Minister Nick Gibb said: “The attainment gap between the most disadvantaged pupils and their peers has narrowed by 10 per cent since 2011, and more disadvantaged pupils are studying the core academic subjects, ensuring they have the knowledge and skills they need to make the most of their lives.”
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders said that the new grading system for English and maths has complicated the way in which school performance measures are calculated.
“Our message to the DfE, trust boards, governors and inspectors is to avoid leaping to judgement on the basis of these performance tables,” he said.
“They only tell us a limited amount about the true quality of a school.”