Pupils whose first language is not English make better progress throughout their schooling in England than native speakers, new figures show.
New statistics reveal progress between school "key stages"
Government statisticians say this is in part due to the fact that children in the higher achieving minority ethnic groups are more likely to have "English as an additional language (EAL)", as the jargon puts it.
These latest figures record children's improvement in English, maths and science between the different stages of their education from five to 16, rather than outright achievement.
It was known already that the highest achieving groups are those from Chinese and Indian backgrounds.
The official report says Chinese and Indian pupils have high rates of EAL and are also the ethnic groups that progress well at each Key Stage whereas white and black Caribbean pupils, who have low rates of EAL, are also the two of the poorer progressing groups.
The progress seems to parallel the children's growing proficiency in English.
Only in science do pupils whose first language is English make more progress than pupils for whom it is an additional language at both Key Stage 2 (seven to 11) and Key Stage 3 (11 to 14).
The statistics confirm that girls make more progress than boys in English at all "key stages", whereas boys progress slightly better in mathematics and science.
For a given level of attainment at the age of 14, girls make more progress than boys by the time they do their GCSEs two years later.
On the measure of entitlement to free school meals - a standard poverty indicator - pupils whose families are better off make more progress at all levels than those who are entitled to free lunches.
All pupils do better in schools with a relatively low take-up of free school meals.
White pupils, when looked at by gender and entitlement to free meals, "are one of the worst progressing ethnic groups" at GCSE, whatever their prior attainment.
Black Caribbean pupils - boys or girls - make "below average progress" at all stages.
Among girls, Pakistani pupils start off as one of the poorer progressing groups but by the time they do their GCSEs are one of the best progressing groups.
The various ethnic pupil groupings used in the analysis are white, Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Black Caribbean, Black African, Black other and Chinese.
New effort to tackle problems
On Tuesday the School Standards Minister, David Miliband, announced the names of the first 103 schools that will head the new "Leading Edge Partnerships".
These involve a number of schools working together to raise standards.
They will collaborate to find solutions for "the most critical learning challenges facing pupils and teachers", his department said - such as the underachievement of boys.
Mr Miliband also said 245 more secondary schools in England would become specialists in September - the largest ever from one round.
This means that 46% of pupils in maintained secondary schools will then be taught in one of 1,454 specialist schools.