Esol rally attracts 600-strong crowd

14th October 2015 at 17:30

Hundreds of campaigners attended a protest against cuts to mandated English for speakers of other languages (Esol) and adult learning courses today.

Staff from across the FE sector gathered at the rally in London to criticise the government's decision to axe the £45 million Esol plus mandation programme, which is targeted at Jobseeker's Allowance claimants identified as having poor spoken English skills that prevent them from finding work.

The protest, organised by the University and College Union (UCU) and Action for Esol, involved about 600 people with banners gathering in Parliament Square.

Matt Early, an Esol teacher at Hackney Community College, said he was "absoutely dismayed" when the cuts were announced. "They're trying to deskill us, and there seems to be a culture of squeezing the teachers as much as they possibly can," he said. "There have been massive job cuts."

Esau Fayed, an adult learner at Greenwich Community College, said many people would be prevented from attending his college and others around the country as a result.

Millie Wild, a teacher at Hackney Community College, called for a more holistic approach to Esol. "It's not simply just not being able to study in English," she said. "Can you imagine living here and not being able to read what's on the buses, or not be able to go to hospital? People are scared to go anywhere because they're scared they won't get home."

At a lobby event within the Palace of Westminster, MP for Ealing Central and Acton Rupa Huq said that as the daughter of immigrants who had to learn English when they arrived in the UK, she felt Esol was important. "English is the great leveller," she said. "Esol needs to stay."

Speaking to TES after the rally, Elizabeth Lawrence, president of the University and College Union (UCU), said: "It was encouraging that 600 people turned up. This is the third lot and it is important we keep on with these lobbies. 

"The FE sector contributes so much to society and it's important we continue with these lobbies."


Related Content

Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today