Kent school with almost 70% of pupils from ethnic minorities 'twinned' with academy

State schools across England are far more ethnically diverse than they were five years ago, according to the latest figures from the Department for Education.

They show that almost a quarter of pupils are from an ethnic minority - that's up almost 5% on five years ago.

At Chantry School in Gravesend almost 70% of the pupils come from ethnic minorities - and speak everything from Slovakian to Polish and Turkish.

The figures also reveal that percentage of pupils who don't have English as their first language across England is 16.8 %. That's more than double the rate in Kent which is 7.8%.

But at Chantry Primary it's much higher at 63%.

That can put additional pressure on teaching staff.

Making good progress

The Advisory Head Teacher at Chantry, Barbara Scott, says the school hasn't always had parents who've embraced education and they have had to engage not just with the children but with the parents and wider community.

Over a year ago this was a failing school and was taken into "special measures" - which means it could be closed if it didn't improve. But it's since made good progress.

Image copyright bbc
Image caption Michael Gove is convinced that "outstanding" schools will help raise standards in twinned schools

Now, as part of the Education Secretary Michael Gove's plans for academies to work with failing schools, Chantry will be linked with Meopham Community Academy from September.

Mr Gove is convinced that "outstanding" schools like Meopham will help raise standards across the board by twinning them with failing schools.

The head teacher who will have overall responsibility for both schools, Martin Clinton, believes there will be advantages for both schools.

It's hoped that by working together both schools will benefit and Chantry will no longer require "special measures" but will gain from its diverse culture.

But there are many critics of his strategy to concentrate on the academies programme - some who believe that far from helping failing schools it will have a detrimental effect on them.