By James – Policy Team
It has been a rollercoaster eighteen months for English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) funding. And the rollercoaster ride is set to continue with the announcement of a new consultation from the Government.
Following the Learning and Skills Council’s (LSC) change in funding priorities announced in October 2006, asylum seekers were cut out of ESOL and wider Further Education funding. The Refugee Council campaigned with a range of allies to call for asylum seekers and refugees to be reinstated.
Then the Department for Education and Skills did a Race Equality Impact Assessment to look at what effect the cuts would have—and thankfully they reinstated funding for asylum seekers. This was a welcome decision but there were still no concessions for refugees. They remained eligible only if unemployed or on low income, along with everyone else.
The Department for Innovation and Skills issued its consultation Focusing English Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) on Community Cohesion on 4 January 2008. It uses the definition of community cohesion outlined in the Commission on Integration and Cohesion’s report, Our Shared Future.
The consultation is an encouraging read linking national priorities for funded ESOL with local community needs. Refugees are highlighted as a priority group, along with asylum seekers who currently meet LSC funding criteria. Including refugees and their communities has been a long term objective of our ESOL campaign.
The Consultation asks challenging questions around how funding for ESOL should be targeted. However, it is a positive response to concerns around the impact ESOL changes have had on refugee learners and their communities—let us know what you think about the latest proposal by leaving a comment on Poliblog.