Moral of the story? Don't fib

One problem with telling lots of fibs is that you can forget what lies you've told in the past and inadvertently reveal the truth in an embarassing blunder.

You think that wouldn't necessarily be a problem for the Daily Mail, since it tells the same basic lies over and over again, but it's caused a bit of a problem with 'Immigrant pupil numbers rise 50 per cent since 2005, with 20,000 joining last year'.

The Mail has lots of stories about how terrible it is that the numbers of immigrant children or children who speak English as an additional language in schools are rising. They often fudge figures to exaggerate how much the number is rising by, too. Way back in October 2006, I covered a particularly good example in 'The'yre coming to turf us out of our beds and EAT OUR CHILDREN!' parts I and II.

The story then was 'Schools overwhelmed as 1 in 5 speak English as a second langage'. The current story says:
The proportion of pupils in England whose first language was not English rose from 9 per cent in 2003 to 12 per cent last year.
See the difference? Just over a year ago the paper pretended the number had risen to 20%, and now we see that in fact it was only 12%. Oh dear.

Aside from that, the rest of the story is quite obviously complete tripe. We get seven or eight sentence/paragraphs of the paper talking up its claims before we actually find out what they're based on:
Nearly 2,000 pupils were removed from last year's GCSE league tables at their teachers' request because they had recently arrived from overseas and did not speak English at home.

The figure was 50 per cent up on 2005.

If the numbers were similar for other year groups, about 20,000 immigrant pupils who do not speak English would have joined schools during the 2006/07 academic year.
The problem is with the word 'recently'. A rather large number of the pupils removed from GCSE league tables might not have arrived this academic year. They could have arrived at any point within the last three to four years, say. So the whole article is built on a wobbly house of cards.

There are better ways of finding out how many pupils arrived in schools from overseas in the last year. Trouble is, you probably wouldn't get such a scary headline for the Mail readers from it.

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