One consequence of the long-running funding pressures in Esol has been the increase in volunteers leading classes – a trend that arouses mixed feelings for trained English teachers, says ELATT’s Nafisah Graham-Brown.
“It is worrying for some professional teachers. We want to make sure people are getting a good [learning] experience. But at the same time we recognise that having any experience is better than none,” she says.
The Green Paper also makes clear the importance of community volunteers, and calls for the creation of informal “conversation clubs” for migrants.
Natecla has agreed a policy which recognises the use of volunteers as “befrienders” or “language supporters”, but stresses that teachers should be qualified or working towards a qualification.
“The reality is there isn’t enough resource to go around,” Graham-Brown says. “There aren’t enough professional teachers because there hasn’t been bursary funding for teachers to take on teacher training.
“We’re seeing job adverts go up and very few applications come back. We have to be pragmatic about volunteers being used and how we can work together. Separating ourselves isn’t going to help in the long run; people will get stuck in silos where they can’t progress. We feel bringing these worlds together is really important.”