British schools are being stretched to breaking point by immigrant children
Schools are being forced to take up to 65 new Eastern European children every day after the numbers arriving in the UK increased by 40 per cent, it has emerged.
Experts said the youngsters, who have little or no English, were placing enormous strain on the already stretched education system.
Figures compiled by the Home Office reveal 4,200 children were brought from the former Eastern Bloc to Britain by their parents in the first three months of this year, or 65 every school day.
It takes the total number of dependent children known by the Government to be living here to 30,000, although huge deficiencies in Government data mean the figure is likely to be an underestimate.
Schools have no option but to devote thousands of pounds and hundreds of hours trying to bring the newcomers up to the same standard as British youngsters.
David Green, director of the Civitas think-tank, said last night: "We do not have the capacity to cope with these numbers, but it is not possible to stop people from coming, so schools have to do the best they can.
"This must be having a detrimental effect on schools. We have seen in London that, where there are a lot of non-English speakers, the standards are very low.
"When a large number of children go into schools, it is very hard for the staff to accommodate them because they are effectively starting from first base and specialist teachers have to be brought in."
The figures are deficient because ministers collect no data on how many self-employed workers have brought youngsters with them.
And the controversial worker registration scheme does not record whether children have been brought to the UK after their parents have been settled here for a few months and secured jobs.
Instead, it lists only the under-17s who were with their parents on the day they signed-up to the voluntary scheme.
But these numbers by themselves are startling, analysts said. The 4,200 arrivals in January, February and March compares to 3,060 in the same period last year – an increase of 37 per cent.
This has taken place despite the number of adult migrants registering to work here remaining the same at 47,000 in the first three months of both 2006 and 2007. It suggests the pattern of migration from Eastern Europe is changing dramatically.
The first of the 630,000 Poles and other Eastern Europeans to arrive largely came alone, or with friends. But, now it has been established that free education – as well as generous child tax credits – are on offer, significant numbers of young children are now arriving for the first time.
Local authorities said they had not been prepared for the influx, and are not receiving the funding they need to cope with large numbers of additional children.
They require intensive tuition to bring their English up to scratch, as well as careful integration into mainstream classes. The Local Government Association is seeking extra funding.
Shadow Home Secretary David Davis said: "The Government originally estimated that no more than 15,000 would come from the new Eastern European members of the EU. At least 600,000 came.
"Britain benefits economically from immigration, but not all or any immigration. There must be a limit to the amount of people who can come here, bearing in mind the ability of our public services and infrastructure to cope with new arrivals."
The truth about immigrants and housing queues