THREE out of four pupils at one Stourbridge primary school do not speak English as their first language, official figures have revealed.

At Wollescote Primary School just 22 per cent of pupils (99 out of 442) speak English as their mother tongue, according to government figures.

The school in Drummond Road, Wollescote, has the highest percentage of pupils whose first language is not English in the borough (77.6 per cent) – which is more than three times higher than the national figure of 21.3 per cent.

Many youngsters at the school speak Urdu. Pupils also speak Italian, Czech, Romanian, Polish and Russian.

Teaching young children who speak in an array of different languages might seem a daunting task but headteacher Jo Quigley insists: "This challenge isn't a barrier to learning."

Results have not been hampered at Wollescote Primary which is rated ‘good’ by Ofsted and which scores well above average for pupils’ writing ability and average for reading and maths - according to government data.

And Mrs Quigley told the News: "We have trained our teaching assistants across the school on how to support children with learning English, and have an induction programme in place for each child who arrives without speaking English. "They complete this programme as part of their transition into school.”

The school has also recently introduced 'reading corners' into each of its classrooms, part funded by The Rotary Club of Stourbridge which contributed £1,000 to buy around 300 books to help young pupils with their English reading skills.

Stourbridge News: Headteacher Jo Quigley with Andrew Scudamore, president of Stourbridge Rotary Club, with class five pupils Amaan Ahmed, Adam Kaiser and Haleema SahdiaHeadteacher Jo Quigley with Andrew Scudamore, president of Stourbridge Rotary Club, with class five pupils Amaan Ahmed, Adam Kaiser and Haleema Sahdia

The Rotary club has strong links with the school where the majority of children are of Pakistani heritage, with an increasing number of pupils now also of Romanian and Roma Gypsy heritage.

Rotary club secretary Fred Shaw, a governor at the school, said: "Few families access public libraries and a significant number of mothers do not read English, relying on older siblings or relatives to teach reading skills to their children."

To help with this Wollescote Primary has also introduced a stay and play programme for pre-school children and mothers who speak little or no English to help them with their understanding of English and identify how they can help their child with speaking, listening and reading.

The sessions have been proving a success, Rotarians say, and to help them develop the programme further the club is buying story sacks - containing a picture book and supporting activities and materials such as puppets, toys and games to help bring the story to life without requiring the ability to read English.

Thanks to the school’s link with Rotary a number of pupils have become Young Rotarians and they have raised around £500 through car washes, sponsored swims and penny races to help fund the ‘reading corners’ so that each classroom now has an area with a bookcase, books and cushions to help children develop their English literacy skills.