Glasgow school has no '˜Scottish' students, headteacher reveals

A headteacher in the heart of Glasgow has revealed that there are no Scottish students enrolled at her school.

181 of Annette Street Primary School's 222 students come from Romania or Slovakia, with the remainder made up of Scottish Asian children. Picture: Crowdfunder
181 of Annette Street Primary School's 222 students come from Romania or Slovakia, with the remainder made up of Scottish Asian children. Picture: Crowdfunder

Annette Street Primary School in the city’s Southside has 222 students on its books - but a remarkable 82 per cent of them are from the families of Roma immigrants from Eastern Europe.

Overall, 181 of the school’s 222 students originate either from Romania or Slovakia - and the remainder come from Asian families living in Scotland.

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According to headteacher Shirley Taylor not one single student on the school register is actually “Scottish”.

The school’s unique status emerged when the headmistress launched an impassioned public plea for extra funding to buy teaching materials to help the pupils learn English.

On the public crowdfunding appeal, Mrs Taylor says: “Most schools can provide opportunities and experiences and equipment which complement the core curriculum.

“The parents of the children in my school just don’t have the linguistic or the financial capacity to do this.”

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Explaining the unique demographic of her school, Mrs Taylor said: “We don’t have any Scottish children in the school at all.

Mrs Taylor explained that places at the school were highly sought-after by families in Slovakia and Romania.

She said: “Families originally came from Slovakia because Govanhill is an area where migrant families come by tradition. They settled in and then started communicating with families back home, and word got out for others to come to Annette Street Primary, and so they did.”

Despite the language barriers, the teachers only speak English and there are no interpreters in the classrooms - although translators are brought in to liaise with parents at school meetings.

Mrs Taylor explained: “All the teachers speak in English. There are a lot of children who have never been to school, who have never accessed school in their home countries. So the children who have been here for a while act as interpreters for the children who are new.”

Cynthia McVey is a leading Health and Developmental Psychologist who attended Annette Street Primary as a girl.

She said that in 1960 when she had been a pupil there, the school roll had been almost entirely made up of native Glaswegian boys and girls.

But she explained that changing patterns of migration were behind the huge percentage of Eastern Europeans at the school.

She said: “People gravitate toward their own naturally – their own language, culture and political background, especially when they have newly arrived somewhere.”

But she added: “I’m a bit surprised there isn’t one Scottish student. There is little diversity there now.

“It means the school will have a big job on its hands because the children will be speaking their own language in the playground, and they will not be exposed to Scottish children who speak English and not be able to pick it up in that way.

“I also think if there is a small Scottish child who is the only one in a class who can’t speak the language all the other children are speaking, then they will be really uncomfortable.

“I think they might become a bit of a loner in that environment.”

Mother-of-nine Ayesha Siddiqi currently has two children at the school.

The 54-year-old from Ayrshire said: “Lots of my friends sent their children here before, but then took them out and sent them to other nearby schools where there were more kids from Scotland.

“I understand this because the kids from other places keep themselves to themselves you know, it’s natural.”

But not everyone came out in support of the school’s unique makeup.

A spokesman for UKIP said: “EU rules have allowed this kind of situation to occur, where a school has no Scottish children in it.

“This might prevent integration and instead cause segregation and potentially even ghettoisation.

“Instead, an effort should be made to integrate the children to both benefit the Scottish children who now feel they can’t go to this school for fear of being secluded, and for those from foreign countries who want to learn English and want to be more integrated into Scottish culture.”

Last night a spokeswoman for Glasgow City Council said: “The diversity and many cultures in our classrooms across the city make Glasgow the wonderful city that we have become known for.

“Our children and young people can all learn from each other. Almost 140 languages are spoken in our schools: working and studying together brings tolerance.”