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Action for ESOL

The Action for ESOL campaign to prevent new restrictions on funding for vital ESOL courses was founded in January 2011.

ESOL and Adult Education temporary reprieve

December 2011 saw a fantastic result for the Action for ESOL campaign, as the government announced that the huge U-Turn on their plans to make students on benefits pay for English (ESOL) classes would now stay until 2013. Many feared the concessions were 'just for one year' but this has now been extended for a further year until 2013/14.
 
The initial plans changed funding eligibility for all adult learners on so-called 'inactive' benefits. This meant that up to 75% of students learning English for speakers of other languages (ESOL), mainly women from black and minority ethnic groups, would not have been able to afford to pay for English classes, as students on benefits such as income support would be asked to pay up to £1200 for a course. The fees would have been unaffordable for the vast majority of ESOL students and would have had a devastating impact on ESOL students and all of our communities.
 
The August U-turn was an important victory for Action for ESOL as, although the concessions did not apply to those on working tax credit, low-income workers not on benefits and 'failed' asylum seekers, most of the 250,000 adult places at risk could be saved.
 
Action for ESOL was founded in January 2011 by students, teachers, researchers, union representatives and many others, who collectively work to oppose the eligibility changes and campaign for the promotion of ESOL. Action for ESOL is actively supported by the University and College Union (UCU), the National Association for Teaching English and other Community Languages to Adults (NATECLA), the Refugee Council and other organisations. This successful campaign has raised awareness of ESOL at a local and national level through students and practitioners in colleges and community groups speaking to MPs, parliamentary lobbying and holding ESOL protests.

Action for ESOL's success is due to the hundreds of students, ESOL teachers, trade unionists and supporters who took part in the demonstrations and letter-writing, spoke to their MPs, lobbied in parliament and came on the marches and protests around the country. And the amazing work done by everyone who responded to the chaotic last-minute U-turn by getting students back into college and in some cases getting ESOL courses and teachers re-instated.

The campaign still has work to do for those students to whom the concessions did not apply, and many colleges are still trying to undo the chaos caused by the last-minute funding changes.

The campaign still has work to do for those students to whom the concessions did not apply, and many colleges are still trying to undo the chaos caused by the last-minute funding changes.

  • We should be approaching management of colleges and providers to ensure they fill places, recruit staff and plan for the extension.
  • Many colleges received extra funding following the riots and we should welcome this and approach management to re-instate those ESOL staff lost, replace ESOL closed courses and invite in all ESOL students who are on waiting lists.
  • This 2 year extension gives us time to regroup and take on the challenges down the road including fees, loans and changes wrought by the 'universal benefit' system due around 2015, all of which will facilitate privatisation and undermine adult and further education. We will seek to work with students and workers campaigning against cuts and privatisation to the whole of education.

But for now, this new announcement means that Adult Education is now protected for a further year and the majority of ESOL students can continue their studies until 2013.

Read more about ESOL and Further Education:


Our basic demands

  • fully funded English language provision for all who need it and cannot afford to contribute to the cost:
    • people on non-active benefits, for example, income support, carers' allowance, pension credit, housing benefit, and their dependents
    • people in work on low incomes
    • asylum  seekers
  • continuation of the ESOL element of the Learner Support Fund
  • no job losses for ESOL teachers.

Campaigning

Campaign supported by:
UNISON
TUC
UCATT & PCS
WEA
NIACE
Refugee Council
Reflect ESOL
Migrant Rights Group
Asylum Aid

Government cuts in ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) will mean that only settled people on Jobseekers or Employment Support Allowances will get free classes. It is thought others will pay 50% of the full costs. 

Language is a basic right. People need English for everyday tasks such as shopping or phoning the doctor. With English skills, people add much more to our workforce, our economy and society - many doing demanding jobs & volunteering - or providing skills & qualifications that we need in the UK.

Read more about the importance of ESOL provision here.

Action for ESOL : actionforesol.orgThe Action for ESOL campaign is supported by a wide range of ESOL practitioners from around the country, including: UCU, the National Association for Teaching English and other Community Languages to Adults (NATECLA), the Refugee Council, City of Sanctuary, and the Union of Construction and Allied Trades and Technicians (UCATT), ensuring strong commitment from both the users and providers of ESOL services.


Booklet on ESOL students' experiences

ESOL students at Hackney Community College have produced wonderful booklet our ESOL of stories and testimonies of their lives in the UK, how ESOL has helped them, and how they believe the funding cuts will affect them in the future. Please take the time to read the HCC ESOL Student VOICES booklet (pdf) which gives an insight into the lives of typical ESOL students in London, and take every opportunity to highlight our cause to your colleagues and organisation.


Action for ESOL: day of action

The Action for ESOL campaign held a national day of action against the cuts to ESOL funding on 24 March 2011.

ESOL teachers, students and all who support us organise in our communities and in our colleges and other workplaces took place in the protests in the week of the budget and the demonstration called by the TUC on 26 March.


 
See more at www.actionforesol.org. See also NATECLA: www.natecla.org.uk and our Facebook page and Twitter @actionforesol


ESOL becomes LOSE!!

The following simple but effective slideshow was produced by some ESOL tutors at Bromley by Bow Centre.


Action for ESOL Coordination Group - this group is co-ordinating the campaign mostly via virtual actions

The group is a network of people representing regions and key bodies.

  • co-ordinate activities
  • set up ways for regional groups and individuals to communicate
  • act as a clearing house for information and distribution
  • edit materials to aid clarity
  • organise national events
  • organise a speakers' list
  • not organise local events

The group is likely to meet physically very occasionally and mostly communicate by email and other virtual means. 

Regional contacts - NATECLA Co-ordinating Group contacts via local branches - please join in locally

Midlands contact Kamran Khan KXK987@bham.ac.uk
North West contact Lynn Murrell lynn.murrell@hopwood.ac.uk
Yorkshire/Humberside Michael Hepworth edmdh@leeds.ac.uk
London contact Jennie Turner jennifert@gcc.ac.uk

Main campaign contacts:

Patricia Sullivan NATECLA Chair  pat207@btinternet.com
Matt Waddup, National Head of Policy and Campaigns, UCU


Some press highlights

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