NIACE signs Action for ESOL petition

5 February 2011

The Action for ESOL petition, states:

“We urge the government to reconsider the approach to ESOL outlined in the ‘Investing in Skills for Sustainable Growth’ Strategy, recognise the contribution that migrants make to the economy and society as a whole and prioritise publicly funded ESOL provision for low paid and economically vulnerable people. ESOL students are keen to learn the language and integrate into society. In order to do this they need programmes that enable them to do so.”

The funding cuts to English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) announced in the Skills Strategy concerned NIACE and a meeting was called of the national ESOL Advisory Group, chaired by Derek Grover, CB, on 7 December 2010. The Chair wrote to the Minister, John Hayes, asking for an immediate assessment of the impact of the proposed funding changes on the most vulnerable learners.

Chris Taylor, NIACE Programme Director for ESOL, said:

“The proposed changes in ESOL funding are complex but, combined, will have a devastating impact on current learners, especially women. The removal of the discretionary Learner Support Fund, the change in the programme weighting from 1.4 to 1.0 and the introduction of fees for more learners will prevent many existing learners from progressing next September. Early evidence from NIACE members shows that, on average, 40 per cent of current learners who are eligible for fee remission will have to pay from next September and will be unable to continue their studies”.