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Reverse Esol cuts to address refugee crisis, says adult learning body

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The government should respond to the refugee crisis by reversing its decision to withdraw funding for English language courses, according to an adult education body.

Holex – which represents more than 100 adult and community learning providers – says new arrivals to the UK including refugees need English language skills.

In July the government announced it was withdrawing funding for mandated Esol (English for speakers of other languages) courses for jobseekers, in a move described by charities as "devastating”.

In its submission for the forthcoming spending review Holex says the government can only meet its aims on integration by “recognising, formalising and funding” the need for English language provision.

“Adequate and sustained funding of Esol is not a luxury, it is an essential public service,” its submission states.

“Esol support is particularly important for refugees rebuilding their lives in the UK. Refugees come here for protection, having been forced to leave their country due to a well-founded fear of persecution. As a result, refugees are faced with starting afresh in a country to which they had not prepared to move.

“Most refugees stay in the UK, being unable to return to their country of origin and not enjoying fuller freedom of movement until they are granted UK citizenship. This makes learning English a priority for them.”

Holex’s other recommendations include: improving productivity by boosting investment in basic skills; increasing the take-up of professional programmes by allowing post-19 students access to loans; prioritising basic skills education and ensuring employers take responsibility for training employees who they have recruited with low skills; and supporting older learners by recognising the link between education and wellbeing.

The spending review is expected to take place in November.

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