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Lecturers welcome London ESOL effort - but urge government to act

2 May 2007 | last updated: 14 December 2015

UCU has welcomed today's decision of the London Employment and Skills Board (LESB) to commit £15 million to protect the teaching of ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) in London during 2007-8.

UCU has been leading a campaign against the introduction of fees for ESOL. The union is looking for more information on how the London plan would be implemented. Questions need to be answered, it said, about the impact of the measures on other education budgets and about whether the quality of ESOL provision would be protected.

Paul Mackney, UCU joint general secretary, said: 'UCU of course welcomes funding to lessen the impact on London of the government's new fees for many ESOL courses - fees which may deter many of the students most in need of language skills. However, it is not yet clear which kind of courses the funding will support. A new suite of qualifications is in the pipeline. We're concerned that quality shouldn't be compromised.

'We also need to be certain that the ESOL funding is not at the expense of other essential educational provision.

'We want assurances that making ESOL more 'work focussed' doesn't mean that it should simply satisfy the wish of many employers merely to meet legal requirements such as ensuring staff can read safety notices. Language teaching must equip Londoners to fill the capital's many skills needs, including for the 2012 Olympics, but must also help them to be confident citizens equipped to live in their community.

'UCU is keen to work with the GLA in ensuring that this cash is spent wisely and on quality courses that will really enable people to develop the English skills they need to live and work in London.'

'There are big challenges on this score for other cities facing an ESOL crisis. What's really needed is an immediate review by the government of its ESOL plans.'