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EAL pupils’ table-topping GCSE results: miracle or mirage?

Pupils with English as an additional language outperformed native speakers on all fronts for the first time this year. But how are they managing it and are the statistics as straightforward as they first appear? Will Hazell investigates

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When the government published its GCSE statistics earlier this year, the data showed something quite extraordinary. In 2017, for the first time ever, students with the apparent disadvantage of having English as an additional language (EAL) outperformed native speakers on all of the Department for Education’s key measures.

The news prompted celebration, with people hailing the educational achievement of pupils from communities that have often been marginalised. But it also raised a whole host of questions: what lies behind this remarkable performance? Is it because immigrant groups are more ...

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