By the numbers - Immigrant children

Children who move to new countries between the ages of 6 and 11 show little difference in reading proficiency from native children by the age of 15, research has shown.

But children who have had less than four years of education in their host country by the age of 15 tend not to perform so well, according to a report from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

British students who migrate to Australia or New Zealand - which share the same language - are not hindered by their late arrival. Similarly, the age of arrival makes no difference to French children who move to francophone Luxembourg.

Where it exists, the gap in reading proficiency varies markedly between countries and reflects not only language barriers but also the composition of immigrant populations. Some countries, such as Australia, have selective policies that mean that adult immigrants tend to be highly skilled.

The report points out that in many countries, students are expected to make decisions at around the age of 15 that will shape their employment prospects. It adds that help with language skills, and enabling students to defer choosing a particular academic or vocational route, can go some way towards mitigating the adverse effects of late arrival in a country.

PROPORTION OF 15-YEAR-OLD STUDENTS WHO ARE FIRST-GENERATION IMMIGRANTS

Oecd average - 4.8%

Dubai - 45%

Canada - 10.7%

Ireland - 6.8%

Italy - 4.2%

Mexico - 1.1%

Qatar - 26.4%

Singapore - 9.6%

US - 6.4%

France - 3.2%

Chile - 0.4%

New Zealand - 16.7%

Spain - 8.4%

Germany - 5.9%

Portugal - 2.8%

Japan - 0.1%

Australia - 11.1%

UK - 4.8%

Finland - 1.4%

Turkey - 0.1%

Data from 2009. Source: Untapped Skills: realising the potential of immigrant students, OECD. bit.lyUntappedSkills (table B1.3)

AVERAGE POINTS DIFFERENCE IN NATIVE STUDENTS' READING SCORES COMPARED WITH IMMIGRANT STUDENTS' SCORES

+98.9 - Mexico

+21.8 - US

+69.7 - Finland

+12.9 - New Zealand

+60.5 - France

+1.9 - Israel

+56.1 - Germany

-12.3 - Hungary

+43.5 - OECD AVERAGE

-14.9 - Serbia

+22.6 - UK

-97.4 - Qatar

Data from 2009 Programme for International Student Assessment tests. Source: Untapped Skills: realising the potential of immigrant students, OECD. bit.lyUntappedSkills (table B2.1a).

Log in or register for FREE to continue reading.

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you