Immigrants live near immigrants, who knew?

UK schools are socially segregated. Well, yes. But what's this? Immigrants tend to live near other immigrants:

Some 80% of UK students with an immigrant background attend schools with a high concentration of immigrant students, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's (OECD) latest edition of Education at a Glance.
I don't know about you, but if I move to a new country which speaks a completely different language to me, I'd want to start off by living near other people I know and who can speak the same language, point me to the shops where I can buy familiar brands, and help me navigate the foreign bureaucracy. Of course immigrants tend to cluster together. And they will tend to be found in largish cities, near international airports, where very cheap rental housing can be found. So schools in those areas will have a very high proportion of students whose parents are a) very poor in national terms and b) don't necessarily have a good command of English, so are less able to help with homework. Given that parental income is an excellent proxy for school achievement, it is staggeringly obvious that schools with a high proportion of recent immigrants will have relatively poor results.

Sure enough, even parental education doesn't help:

Some 42.5% of immigrant students born to highly educated mothers - those who have a degree - are in disadvantaged schools.
Right. Those highly educated mothers are quite possibly unable to find employment in the UK at any level more sophisticated than stacking supermarket shelves or cleaning lavatories - they have no UK employment history, and no job references that an average employer will take up. It will take them time to establish a solid work history and start a climb towards the jobs that actually match their skills. A talented phlebotomist from French Guyana may start her UK career cleaning the bogs of the local hospital - after three years she may have graduated to managing supplies for the lab, and after another 3-5 years and night time study she may get the minimal qualification to take blood for the lab. After that her career arcs high and bright, until after 5 more years she's running the lab and is known through the hospital as a get-things-done kind of gal, with nearby private hospitals trying to poach here. But her first few years are going to be poor and hard going.

If we want to improve the poor schools, we need to do something about the 1-2 disruptive pupils who spoil the learning of a class of 25-30 students. Get them out of the way of the children of immigrants whose parents venerate learning. Even if we spend 4x the regular per-head teaching cost on getting those disruptive pupils taught elsewhere, we still come out ahead.

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