CHILDREN who speak English as their first language are in the minority at nearly one in six Kirklees schools.

Figures released by the Department for Children, Schools and Families revealed there were 30 schools in the district where more than 50% of pupils come from non-English speaking backgrounds.

There are about 190 state schools in Kirklees.

Pam Milner, executive member for teachers’ union the NASUWT in West Yorkshire, said teachers were suffering.

She said: “Some of our members are telling us they can’t cope any more. “The Government’s agenda is ‘every child matters’.

“If that’s the case, we have to address this problem extremely seriously.

“There’s an issue for whichever Government comes to power in May.”

She said more funding was needed for language support.

Kirklees Labour councillor Cath Harris, who taught at Royds Hall High School, said language diversity could be an advantage.

She said: “My two children went to schools in Birkby and Fartown, a very rich language environment, and I felt it benefited them.

“Children who develop more than one language have a lot to bring culturally and socially.

“We have a significant amount of support to help those youngsters develop.

“I don’t believe that it holds back children who only have English.”

Fellow Labour councillor Ken Smith, joint Cabinet member for children and families, added: “Schools are very used to it and take it in their stride.”