CHILDREN speaking their mother tongue at home has led to a rise in the number of primary school children who need help speaking English, it has been claimed.

Bolton Council figures show the number of children who started primary school in September 2013 in Bolton was 3,900 of which 981 — about a quarter — did not speak English as their first language.

Each of those children receive an additional £250 to help them develop their language.

The council classifies children who do not speak English as their first language as EAL, or "English as an additional language", and offers them support.

A Bolton Council spokesman said: “The growing numbers of children with English as an additional language is largely due to natural population growth within established Asian, Indian and Pakistani communities who often use their indigenous language within their home.

"To a much lesser extent, immigration from abroad has also added to these numbers.

“Large towns and cities tend to have higher numbers of children with English as an additional language and Bolton is fairly typical of other local authorities across the country, although it has substantially lower numbers than those seen in Blackburn with Darwen, Oldham, Rochdale and Manchester.

“Bolton schools and Bolton Council work hard to ensure that these children with English as an additional language are fully supported and integrated into mainstream education.”

A breakdown of the figures shows that the number of children whose first language is not English rose by more than 10 per cent in 12 months.

The figure increased by 387 pupils from 3,454 in October 2012 to 3,841 in October 2013 — an 11.2 per cent rise.

The rise in secondary schools was nearly 18 per cent — with the number increasing by from 414 to 488.

This was despite a slight drop in Bolton's secondary school population, from 16,683 to 16,413.

The spokesman added: “All Bolton schools receive an allocation of funding based on the percentage of their pupils that have English as an additional language.

“This helps schools to provide the extra support that is required.”

According to the last census the most common non-English languages in Bolton are Gujarati, Urdu, Punjabi and Polish.

It also showed there were small but significant numbers of Kurdish, Persian/Farsi, Arabic, Somali and Chinese language speakers.

Bolton Council has a Achievement Cohesion and Integration Service (ACIS), which supports families who are new to the country.

Families can attend the Starting Point International Family Centre until a school place is available and the service helps pupils develop their English language and literacy skills.