Non-native Speakers of English in the Classroom: What Are the Effects on Pupil Performance?


  • The authors thank Emla Fitzsimons, David Figlio, Steve Gibbons, Steve Pischke, Alan Manning and Marcos Vera Hernandez for very useful comments. They also thank participants at the CESifo Area Conference on Economics of Education (Munich, September 2011); and seminars at the University of Bologna, University College Dublin and the Centre for Economic Performance, LSE. They further thank Brian Bell and Steve Gibbons for help on data availability. This study has been funded by the Nuffield Foundation. However, the views expressed are those of the grant holder and not those of the Foundation.


There has been an increase in the number of children going to school in England who do not speak English as a first language. We investigate whether this has an impact on the educational outcomes of native English speakers at the end of primary school. We show that the negative correlation observed in the raw data is mainly an artefact of selection: non-native speakers are more likely to attend school with disadvantaged native speakers. We attempt to identify a causal impact of changes in the percentage of non-native speakers. Our results suggest zero effect and rule out negative effects.