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Our school is a real multi-ethnic success story
A SCHOOL where half the children do not speak English as a first language has been praised for its outstanding achievements.
Research by Southend Council has revealed Milton Hall Primary School, in Salisbury Avenue, Westcliff , has become a melting pot of different cultures and ethnicities.
Of the school’s 850 pupils, more than half are from ethnic minority or immigrant backgrounds. Many youngsters joined the school without speaking any English at all.
However, despite the challenges facing them, council bosses said teachers were leading children to excellent exam results against the odds.
James Courtenay, the Tory councillor responsible for education, said: “It is easy to look at the grammar schools and see they have the best results on paper, but often the most impressive results are at schools which have overcome certain challenges.
“It is about embracing those challenges and adapting the school to meet them, which is what Milton Hall has done so well.”
Milton Hall is one of the largest primary schools in Southend borough, with some pupils travelling from as far away as Southchurch or Shoebury .
Nearly a third come from an Eastern European background, with 64 youngsters heralding from Roma families.
Council chiefs estimate more than 40 languages, including Polish and Bengali, are spoken at the school.
However, in the 2011 SATs exams, four out of five pupils (80 per cent) achieved the benchmark Level 4 grade or higher, compared to a national average of just 58 per cent.
Speaking in March, headteacher Debbie Priest said the school had worked hard to ensure it was welcoming to children from all backgrounds.
She added: “In my experience, I have found the children who have to learn English seem to pick it up really quickly, like sponges.
“Some of them then take this newfound knowledge home to their parents, and help them learn. “Every child has to be given the best opportunities to learn about all aspects of life, whether they were born in this country or not.”