ESOL in England

ESOL provision in England
Recent government policy,
sector response and the ESOL
Elaine Williamson
ESOL lecturer
Overview of session
• Proposed reforms to ESOL in England under
the Coalition government
• How teachers and students responded – the
Action for ESOL campaign
• The ESOL Manifesto
– offered for your comments and discussion
ESOL in the context of work and study:
Preparing learners for participation
How does this session link to the theme of the day?
• ESOL provides vital language/literacy education,
facilitating progression to work and HE
• Teaches language for day to day living and survival
• Promotes ‘citizenship’ – rights, responsibilities, the law
• Provides language qualifications (often linked to
• Helps learners socialize into a new culture
• Fosters political participation
ESOL in England
• English language education for a diverse range
of migrants, including settled communities,
newly arrived spouses, refugees, asylum
seekers, migrant workers
• Provision in FE colleges, by local authorities,
community, voluntary sector, workplace,
prisons, private providers
• Most is state funded / co-funded
Policy history
• Prior to 2001 ESOL had a chequered history
• 2001-2009 – Skills for Life
• 2009 – Community cohesion and
disassociation with Skills for Life
• 2010 – still funded but in ‘no mans land’
Initial Coalition government proposal
• Full funding only to be available for those
‘actively seeking work’ on Jobseekers
Allowance and Employment Support
Allowance benefits
• For others ESOL co-funded
• No funding for ESOL training in the workplace
• Removal of learner support fund
• Loss of programme weighting
Figures and impact
AoC survey on ESOL (2010)
• 187,000 ESOL learners in England (a
conservative estimate)
• 55% have additional literacy and numeracy
basic skills needs
• 99,000 learners likely to be affected by the
• 74% of those affected will be women (80% in
• Inevitable job losses
Sector response
• National campaign Action for ESOL: teachers, students,
NATECLA, Refugee Council, NIACE, UCU and others
• Action for ESOL web site
• 1000’s of letters to MP’s by students
• Petition 20,000 signatures
• National day of action: London, Nottingham, Brighton,
Manchester etc
• Local events
• Press coverage – BBC, The Guardian, Independent, TES,
Radio 4
• Letters of support
Government response
• Equalities Impact Assessment
• Short term change of policy – fee remission
for students on most benefits
• August policy change too late for 2011 - some
• Provision secured for 2012 then 2013
• Future undecided
What emerged from the campaign?
As a sector we identified:
• Reprieve for ESOL was short lived
• Contrasting understanding of ESOL
government/policy makers and teachers
• Other issues to address:
lack of sustainable funding
ESOL as a distinct area of practice
language as a right
access to a range of provision
The ESOL Manifesto
The ESOL Manifesto
• Collaboration between 60+ ESOL teachers and
other interested parties
• ‘A statement of our beliefs and values’
• Makes some demands of policy makers and
also of practitioners
Next step:
• To share this with you and ask for your
• Identify any parallels/differences in provision
in your own area of work
• Opportunity to discuss issues in your own area
of work
• Ask for your input about how we might take
this forward
Five themes:
Funding and the right to learn
Language, community and diversity
ESOL identity
Teacher professionalism
1. Funding and the right to learn
– Removing financial barriers to participation
– joined-up thinking between different
government departments and providers
– a statutory entitlement to ESOL?
– Free ESOL for all?
2. Language, community and diversity
– Language provision for full participation in
society (not just employment)
– Recognising and valuing multilingualism
– Responding to diversity in ESOL learners and
their motivation (incl. migrant workers)
– Need for a wide range of levels
3. ESOL identity
Is ESOL a distinct area of practice?
Support infrastructure to attend e.g. Childcare
High quality advice and guidance
Women with children – access to more than
community based provision and family learning
4. Teacher professionalism
– Pay, contracts and working conditions
– Marginalization and casualization of the
– Ongoing opportunities for teachers to develop
practice including a ‘communities of practice’
– A well funded research community
– More BME teachers
– Teachers have a right and responsibility to
engage with political and policy issues
5. Pedagogy
– Research should involve a dialogue between
practice and research institutions
– Prescribed central curricula can be proscriptive
– A one size fits all model doesn’t fit
– An over emphasis on examination and
qualifications for funding purposes
– Holism of ESOL
“language education is about the whole person –
about taking charge of their lives, active and
critical participation in all aspects of life – the
classroom and beyond”
Select a theme of interest
In groups:
• What do you think of the points raised by the
• Are there any parallels/differences with your own
• What are the issues in your own field of practice?
• What should the AfE campaign do with the
manifesto now?
Five themes:
Funding and the right to learn
Language, community and diversity
ESOL identity
Teacher professionalism

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