CHILDREN with English as a second language are learning the language more quickly in Southend than those with English as their mother tongue.

New figures from charity the Education Endowment Foundation state during phonics screening checks 82.4 per cent of the 1,802 Year One students in Southend with English as first language passed.

Out of the 305 who do not have English as a first language 85.9 per cent passed.

The test assesses whether the children, aged about five, can understand the relationship between the sounds of spoken language and how words are spelled.

The test consists of a list of 40 words, half real words and half non-words, which Year One children read to a teacher.

It helps identify children who need extra help, so they are given support by their school to improve their reading skills.

It also highlights the vast difference in education at this early age and what is needed to help all pupils.

According to the charity the reality of pupils achieving very different results is one of the “biggest challenges” the education system faces.

The education charity also says that across Essex as a whole the results in Southend are mirrored.

The figures show that of the 15,436 Year One children in Essex with English as their mother tongue, 82 per cent passed their test 2019.

Meanwhile, the 1,421 whose first language is not English had a pass rate of 83.2 per cent.

Councillor Anne Jones, cabinet member for children and learning at Southend Council, said: “The phonics screening test is a relatively new measure and we’re really pleased our children have achieved a higher than national average

“I don’t think it’s fair to separate out results, as the borough’s schools and teaching staff work really hard to ensure all our children get the best opportunities.”

Across England the average pass rate was 82.2 per cent.