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POLISH IS NOW OUR SECOND LANGUAGE; Biggest minority in half of all school areas.

Byline: By Magnus Gardham

POLISH is now the second language in half of Scotland's school areas.

A report yesterday showed it had overtaken other languages, such as Urdu and Punjabi, across swathes of Scotland.

From Aberdeen to Dumfries and Galloway, kids from Polish-speaking homes now outnumber other newcomers to Scotland.

They also make up the biggest immigrant group in Edinburgh, the Scottish Borders, Shetland, Highland and West Lothian, among other areas.

Figures from the government revealed there were 3347 youngsters in Scots schools last year whose "main home language" was Polish.

It is now the fourth most common tongue after English, Punjabi and Urdu. There were 4682 school kids from Punjabi households and 4002 from Urdu-speaking homes last year.

But the growing Polish community is already more spread-out than more established immigrant groups.

Punjabi comes second in nine areas, including Glasgow. Urdu and Cantonese are second in a few areas.

Yesterday's report showed there were an astonishing 138 native tongues spoken by Scotland's pupils.

They ranged from Afrikaans to Zulu, with nearly 200 Swahili speakers and more than 100 children from Hungarian-speaking families.

The report also showed the number of pupils in state schools dropped below 700,000 for the first time.

In September last year, there were 692,215 on the roll - 375,946 in primary, 309,560 in secondary and 709 in special schools.

Class sizes became smaller. The average primary class size was 23.3 pupils, down from 23.6 in 2006.

The figures sparked a row over the SNP's pledge to cut class sizes to 18 in the first three years of primary. Last year, just 12 per cent of pupils in P1, P2 and P3 were in classes of 18 or fewer.

Labour schools spokesman Ken Macintosh said: "These figures prove that the SNP's promise on class sizes is unachievable.

"Families across Scotland will feel disappointed and let down."

But schools minister Maureen Watt said: "While it's good news that class sizes in P1 are coming down, we are determined to do much more."
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Feb 27, 2008
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