Since the 2011 Census, there has been no up-to-date local-authority level data on the total population of either migrant children or UK-born children of migrants. However the two data sources used in the charts in this section provide some insight into numbers and trends of (1) children born in the UK to foreign-born mothers and (2) school pupils with English as an additional language.
Children born to non-UK born mothers
Data on children born in the UK to foreign-born mothers are available from ONS. They indicate how many children of migrants have been born in a given area, although they do not include babies with a UK-born mother and a non-UK born father. The figures will include foreign-born mothers who have lived in the UK for many years, even decades. Despite their limitations, these data provide some indication of how many such children will reach nursery or school age in subsequent years, although this will also be affected by families moving in and out of the local authority or leaving the UK. Nonetheless, this information can be a useful metric for local-level planning and resource allocation.
Figure 11 shows the overall share of live births to non-UK mothers for England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. The share of births to non-UK born mothers is higher than the share of migrants in the population, in large part because the non-UK born are more likely to be in the peak childbearing ages (ONS, 2017). In 2018, the overall share of live births to non-UK mothers in England and Wales fell for the first time since 1990, from 28.4% in 2017, to 28.2% in 2018 (ONS, 2018)
More detailed data containing information on the characteristics of the mother are available for England and Wales, through NOMIS, although only at the regional level.
Like education itself, the production of local authority level data on the first language of school pupils at state-funded schools is a devolved matter in the UK. This information can be accessed as follows:
- England: data produced by the UK’s Department of Education (DfE) are available online (in the ‘Underlying data’ tables).
- Scotland: similar data, deriving from the student census, is made available for download by the Scottish government.
- Northern Ireland: similar data on ‘newcomer pupils’ in Northern Ireland is published by its Department of Education.
- Wales: the website of StatsWales hosts interactive tables with available downloads of data on pupils aged 5 and over with a first language other than English or Welsh by local authority, region and year, although not by primary and secondary pupils.
By way of illustration, Figure 12 shows the share of children in state-funded schools in England whose first language is known or believed (by the school completing the school census) to not be English.
DfE has also collected data on school pupils by nationality and country of birth for the 2016/17 and 2017/18 academic years in England. There were initial concerns about data quality as the country of birth information and to a lesser extent nationality information was missing for a substantial share of pupils. However, these figures can help to interpret the English as an Additional Language (EAL) data. Specifically:
- The share of EAL is higher among pupils born abroad or who have non-UK nationality. Nonetheless, EAL figures include many pupils born in the UK and who have British nationality.
- In state-funded primary schools in England in January 2017, for example, 8.7% of pupils for whom data were collected were reported to be non-UK nationals and 6.7% were reported to be non-UK born.
- By contrast, a much higher share of pupils, 20.6%, had a first language known or believed to be something other than English. DfE analysis suggested that non-UK born or non-UK national children were more likely to have missing data, making the shares by nationality and (particularly) country of birth underestimates. However, the share of EAL pupils is also expected to be higher because they will include UK-born and UK-national children whose parents speak a language other than English at home.