Teachers are having to use Google Translate to plan lessons as they struggle to cater for migrant children.
A union conference heard today that schools are struggling to cope with an influx of children arriving in classes unable to speak English.
Teachers have warned that schools are now having to deal with pupils across the UK speaking up to 300 languages.
A union conference heard today that schools are struggling to cope with an influx of children arriving unable to speak English – forcing some teachers to use Google translate to make lesson plans in other languages
They also said English-speaking children are not getting their ‘fair share’ of attention from teachers because of the additional needs of those from abroad.
In a speech to delegates from the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, Oxfordshire teacher Joy Wilson said many staff had little or no training in how to deal with pupils with English as an additional language (EAL).
She said: ‘UK schools are educating a rising number of EAL pupils. This continues day by day.
‘There are now 300 different languages and this is a challenge as we are experiencing growing numbers, and areas of previously no [bilingual] students now have them for the first time.’
She pointed out that it takes some pupils up to seven years to gain adequate language proficiency for academic work – which means their lack of English holds them back.
Teachers have warned that schools are now having to deal with pupils across the UK speaking up to 300 different languages – but hardly any English
She said that it was even harder to deal with those who had ‘complex needs’ such as communication disorders, autism and moderate learning difficulties if they also had poor English skills.
Around one in six primary school pupils do not have English as their first language, while in secondary schools the figure is one in seven.
Official statistics released in 2014 showed the proportion of non-native speakers in primary schools increased from 18.1 per cent to 18.7 per cent in a year.
In secondary schools, the proportion increased from 13.6 to 14.3 per cent.
Some schools in multicultural areas have pupils with more than 20 different native languages.
Earlier this year, it was revealed that only 10 per cent of pupils at Gascoigne Primary School in Barking, East London, were native English speakers.
Diane Wilson, who also teaches in Oxfordshire, told the conference in Liverpool she had Hungarian, Russian and Portuguese children in her class.
She said: ‘I was up until midnight writing individual lesson plans for the three EAL students and two other differentiated ones for the rest of the class.
All the materials handled were self made and individual instructions using Google Translate were put into Hungarian and Portuguese.
‘Without the appropriate funding, the EAL students do not get the specialist support staff they need.
‘The non-EAL students do not get a fair share of the teacher’s time. The stress levels of the teacher go through the roof.’
Heather Emerson, a teacher from Salford, told the delegates: ‘It’s hard, not just for the teachers but for the children as well, and we need to be able to support them.
‘I’ve learnt how to speak a little bit of Urdu, a little bit of Persian, a little bit of Spanish, and I’m currently learning Arabic.’
Malcolm St John-Smith, from Wakefield, said pupils were arriving in schools with English which was ‘rudimentary to say the least’ and not developing their skills at home.
Statistics show non-native speakers in primary schools increased from 18.1 per cent to 18.7 per cent in 2014
He added: ‘Unless we do something to actively encourage parents to be a part and recognise that they are a part of this problem, it is still going to go on.
‘I know of schools where there are over 30 different languages being spoken. How do we expect to be able to cope with that unless we have support from everywhere?’
The teachers’ concerns come amid a growing crisis over places in primary and secondary schools, fuelled partly by migration and a baby boom.
In parts of London, almost half of families did not get their first choice of secondary school this year.
Ofsted chief Sir Michael Wilshaw warned last year that schools needed more help to deal with growing numbers of children who cannot speak English.
He said: ‘When they’re faced with an influx of children from other countries, they need the resources and capacity to deal with it.’