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pound;25m cut to London Esol classes

COLLEGES SERVING the UK's most multi-ethnic city say they are having to cut pound;25 million from their budgets for English language classes. With adult education funding being reduced by 6.8 per cent in London, colleges say they would have to cut entry level courses.

The London Capital Colleges group, which represents the city's 13 largest colleges, said previous rounds of cuts to the budget and new funding rules left them with little room to manoeuvre.

English for speakers of other languages is one of the few remaining areas that does not count towards government targets. Colleges are also facing pressure to reach tougher targets for level 2 (GCSE-equivalent), which is likely to leave less cash for other areas of provision.

Marianne Cavalli, a LCC chairwoman and principal of Croydon College, said:

"Esol has become the sacrificial lamb because we were told we were only going to be funded for provision that met targets for public service agreements. Each college has got some remaining provision which is not target-bearing but we want to keep it going for reasons of our mission, our duty to communities, and to protect lower-level provision."

Her college had seen its budget cut by pound;700,000, and others are seeing reductions of about pound;1 million, according to the University and College Union.

More than a third of all immigrants to the UK settle in London, so demand for classes in Esol is particularly high. Barry Lovejoy, the UCU's head of colleges, said: "Adult education in London is already suffering, and further cuts will damage the city's economy."

Bill Rammell, the FE minister, said the overall adult education budget was increasing if the employer-based Train to Gain scheme was taken into account.

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