‘No evidence’ EU migration harms educational outcomes or school choice

There is “no evidence” that migration to the UK from Europe reduces the educational outcomes of non-migrant children or the choice of schools on offer to parents, according to an influential committee that advises the government.

Research by the Migration Advisory Committee found that there is “no statistically significant relationship” between a higher migrant share and the percentage of parents getting their first preference of school.

Furthermore, the committee also found that in areas where the proportion of pupils with English as an additional language (EAL) increased, the proportion of non-EAL pupils achieving their target level in their SATs and GCSEs also rose.

The findings form part of the MAC’s report on migration to the UK from the European Economic Area, or EEA, which found that migrant children and the children of migrants make up a larger proportion of the school population than of the school workforce.

The report recommends that unless a UK immigration policy is included in any agreement with the European Union, there should be no preferential treatment for EU citizens after Brexit.

This would mean that visa restrictions and earnings thresholds that currently apply to non-EEA migrants would also apply to those from the EU.

However, the committee has also recommended that the shortage occupation list – a list of professions that qualify for easier admission to the country – be “fully reviewed”, with the possibility of extending it to other professions, leaving it unclear what would happen to teachers wanting to come here from the EU under a future system.

Teachers of maths, physics, general science, Mandarin and computing are currently on the shortage occupation list, meaning they do not have to meet the same requirements when moving from outside the EEA as teachers in non-shortage subjects. These requirements include a £35,000 earnings threshold for those who want to settle in the UK, a particular problem for teachers early in their careers.

Teachers from Europe currently make up 2.6 per cent of primary school teachers and 3 per cent of secondary school teachers in the UK.

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  1. Eric Fairchild

    There is no surprise to me in reading that the research shows that the number of EAL pupils in a school does not have a negative impact of overall outcomes. As a governor in an inner city primary with a majority of EAL pupils our results are broadly similar and often better than schools in the white middle class areas of our authority and far above national averages. The important factor is always the quality of the school’s leadership.

  2. EAL is a nebulous description. It can range from pupils who are fully fluent in English and speak their ‘first’ language at home to pupils entering the UK from abroad (not just the EU) with no English at all.
    It’s well known that bi-lingual pupils generally achieve well. But children entering a school with no English, especially if they come and go, will be a strain on a school. And if such children are entered for SATs it’s likely the school’s overall test results on which they are judged are reduced.