Consultation on ESOL announced - Refugee Council
January 7, 2008

Consultation on ESOL announced

The government today published a set of proposals relating to English language tuition for migrants. Central to the proposals is the commitment to providing English classes to long-term migrants, and pressure on employers to pay for lessons. Local councils would get more of a say in how funding for ESOL is allocated. According to the consultation document, the national priorities for ESOL include:

  • legal residents expected to stay in the country long-term
  • excluded women, particularly those with children under 16
  • parents or carers in families with multiple problems
  • those identified as raising particular issues for community cohesion
  • people with low levels of literacy in their own language
  • those with no secondary education
  • refugees
  • asylum seekers still in the country beyond six months awaiting a decision on their status or who cannot return home

In response to the publication today of a government consultation on the provision of ESOL classes Donna Covey, Chief Executive of the Refugee Council said:

“We welcome the Government’s commitment to promoting community cohesion through the provision of English language classes. We also welcome the recognition that refugees often face higher levels of social isolation and unemployment. Our own research and experience continually highlights ESOL as a key issue for refugees and asylum seekers. Learning English is vital to feeling safe, retraining and getting a job in the UK. We urge the Government to include refugees as a priority group for ESOL funding.

“We’re pleased the Government is consulting on the role of voluntary and community groups to support ESOL learners. Many refugee community organisations already provide English language classes. We hope this will mean they will get the funding and support they need to continue to provide this essential service.”