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Immigrants learning the language remains a priority

Your article, "Foreign nationals denied access" (FE Focus November 2) fails to recognise that our recent English for speakers of other languages (Esol) reforms are actually designed to tackle waiting lists and make it easier for people to access English language provision.

It is also wrong to say that our priority of meeting targets for adults learning level two qualifications has the consequence of causing a contraction in the number of language classes. Such provision at all levels remains a priority. We continue to support the lower levels, not least because this can offer an important route on to the higher level target-bearing provision. Since August, funding has been reprioritised towards people in the most vulnerable and disadvantaged groups. It is certainly true - and, indeed, I believe only fair - that those who are able to pay for Esol do so. However, this will be at most 37.5 per cent, with the Government paying for at least 62.5 per cent. Employers will contribute to the cost of language provision too.

Immigrants can also benefit from the new Esol for Work qualifications that are now available from eight awarding bodies at entry levels 3 and 1. These new qualifications offer further choice and flexibility for learners as they are less expensive and more job-focused.

Bill Rammell, Minister for lifelong learning, further and higher education.

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