In today’s episode of ridiculous news around the world, the Daily Express has had to print a correction after publishing a story that claimed the English language was dying out in British schools.
The headline online read, ‘311 languages [are] spoken in our schools as English starts to die out’, with the story reporting that English-speaking pupils are “becoming a minority in hundreds of classrooms”, and that in some schools English is “hardly heard at all”. The story also said there are schools where “foreign languages have overtaken English”.
It said this was due to a “decades-long open door policy on immigration”, and referred to data obtained from the Department for Education.
But according to reports from the Press Gazette, press regulator IPSO has ruled the report was inaccurate after Jonathan Portes complained about the front-page story from 24 July, headlined “311 languages spoken in our schools”. The sub headline read: “Special investigation: classrooms where English is starting to die out.”
IPSO said in its ruling that the article’s claims distorted the data used by the newspaper, which did not include any information about the frequency with which English was spoken in schools, by either pupils or teachers.
IPSO also said that a proposal from the Express to correct the story on its letters page was inadequate, requiring it to publish a reference to the adjudication on the front page, directing readers to the full adjudication on page seven. It was also required to publish it on the website, with a link appearing on the homepage for 48 hours.
The Ipso adjudication, which was issued to the paper on 26 November, was duly published on Wednesday’s Express front page, with the full agreed text appearing on page 2.
The Daily Express accepted that the article may have suggested inaccurately that pupils who did not speak English as a first language could not speak English at all, and that English is not spoken in some classrooms.
It attempted to cling to any integrity it had left by stating that when reading the article as a whole, the inaccuracies would not have significantly misled readers.