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Plan to delay tests for refugee pupils

Refugees and immigrant children will be given two years' freedom from curriculum tests under proposals being considered by ministers.

It will mean that children arriving in Britain with little or no English would no longer be counted in their school's test results - a major cause of complaint for many inner-city schools.

The plan has been put forward by the Refugee Council, which is meeting officials from the Department for Education and Employment next month.

There are an estimated 56,000 refugees in British schools but it is expected that many children will be among the 1,000 people a week due to arrive from Kosovo.

Half a million pupils in England do not speak English as their first language.

The change would give a considerable boost to schools' placings in league tables. It could also produce more lenient targets for improvement.

Jill Rutter, the Refugee Council's national education adviser, said that the influx of refugees and the policy of dispersing them outside the capital means that many more schools and local authorities will find their test figures affected.

Under the council's proposal children would still be entered for tests, but their results would not be counted for up to two years after their arrival - less for those who arrived with some English.

News, 9: International, 20

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