CHILDREN in Swindon who do not speak English as a first language are more likely to pass important Year 1 reading tests than native speakers, figures reveal.

Department for Education data shows the results of phonics tests, which children aged five and six take.

Children sound out a series of specially created words to show they can read the letters rather than just recognise words. If they fail they repeat the test in Year 2.

In Swindon, in 2018, 82 per cent of native English speakers passed these tests, compared to 83 per cent of children where English was not their first language.

With boys the pass rate was 79 per cent to 78 per cent in favour of those speaking English as a second language.

Girls who spoke English as a second language fared better than those who spoke it as a native tongue.

Overall phonics test scores have been steadily rising in recent years.

In Swindon, 82 per cent of pupils passed this year, compared with 61 per cent in 2012.

Across England the pass rate has risen from 58 per cent to 82 per cent.

Swindon has the same pass rate as the average for the south west.

School Standards Minister Nick Gibb said: “We want every child, regardless of background, to have a high quality education. Reading and writing are the foundations of that education.

“Since the introduction of the phonics check there has been a huge improvement in the teaching of reading in primary schools."