PUPILS whose first language is not English are performing better than their classmates in Year 1 reading tests, figures have revealed.

Students across Swindon were given a phonics screening check in order to assess whether they can understand the relationship between the sounds of spoken language and how words are spelled.

Of the 2,299 Year 1 children in Swindon with English as their mother tongue, 79.5 per cent passed their test 2019. Meanwhile, 641 whose first language is not English had a pass rate of 83.8 per cent.

“We are aware of the gap in phonics results between these two cohorts and we are constantly looking to improve results in all schools,” a Swindon Borough Council spokesman said. “We have phonics champions working in schools across the borough and they have been highly effective in driving up results in this area, embedding good practice in those schools where needed.

“Swindon has also closed the gap against the national average for phonics results in recent years and we will continue to work with our schools, both maintained and academies, to improve outcomes.”

The test helps to identify children who need extra help, so they are given support to improve their reading skills. Swindon had an 80.1 percent pass rate in the exam while the average pass rate in England was 82.2 per cent.

Chief executive of the Education Endowment Foundation Sir Kevan Collins said: “There is some evidence that speaking two or more languages can help cognitive function.”

Department for Education said: “We want every child to reach their potential, and this means ensuring all children can read fluently upon leaving primary school, irrespective of background."