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Protest at BIS and lobby Parliament against ESOL cuts!

Action for ESOL have called a demonstration against the cuts to ESOL and JCP outside the BIS offices in London, 1 Victoria Street SW1H 0ET, on Wednesday 16th September at 5.30pm. See map

Download the flyer Action for ESOL demo A5 1pp and please bring delegations of staff and students along from your workplace.

Action for ESOL is also co-hosting a lobby of Parliament on Wednesday 14th October, assemble in front of parliament at 12 noon.

Photos from the National Day of Action on Wednesday 26th August, against cuts to ESOL and JCP courses that was announced over the summer, can be found here

Materials to use for making placards and banners: ,

HeSaidHeDid TheySaidTheyDidScreen Shot 2015-08-11 at 12.50.14

ESOL Classes for 16,000 to be cut – Statement by Action for ESOL and Migrants Rights Network

Screen Shot 2015-08-11 at 12.50.14We are dismayed at the latest announcement of massive cuts to ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) provision. On 21st July the Skills Funding Agency announced that ESOL courses which have been provided for students receiving Job Seeker’s Allowance will be cut with immediate effect.

This latest cut is on top of a 24% reduction to funding for Further Education this year, which has meant extensive losses to ESOL provision nationally. In addition, it has been announced that adult courses will be cut by a further 3.9%, which will be applied retrospectively to adult budgets set in March.

The government has not presented any viable alternative provision for students to learn English.

The recent announcement that colleges should provide ESOL classes without funding is ridiculous and unworkable, as is the suggestion that volunteers should fill the gap. If ESOL students are to make progress, they need a rigorous assessment and teaching programme and dedicated, qualified teachers.

Furthermore, the timing of this government decision presents an additional difficulty as it throws careful college planning and budgets into disarray because it has been announced at a point in the year when college managements have finalised timetables and courses for the forthcoming year.

Action for ESOL oppose this latest round of cuts, which will impact on students, teachers, children of our ESOL students and on society as a whole.

On 20th July David Cameron said: ‘At the moment we have parts of the country where opportunities remain limited … where language remains a real barrier, where too many women from minority communities remain trapped outside the workforce, and where educational attainment is low.’

Many colleges and providers have been offering English classes to individuals referred by the Job Centre whose level of English was assessed as below Entry 3, a level identified as not high enough to access employment. The government decision to implement further cuts runs counter to their stated aim to help individuals develop skills in order to gain jobs and communicate with others.

Students need English classes to access jobs, participate in society, support their children, our future generation, through the education system and prevent isolation. Students are now left with an uncertain future, without the means to communicate with other English speakers and without the hope that they can gain a good level of English and gain qualifications that will help them on their chosen career path. Many ESOL students also bring skills and qualifications from their own countries but need to improve their English in order to be able to use these in the UK. These skills and qualifications are of benefit to the whole country.

ESOL teachers have specialist qualifications and many have years of experience in the field. The loss of these teachers through cuts is damaging to all.

Action for ESOL supports the 38 degrees petition opposing these vicious, racist cuts. Action for ESOL are also calling for a Day of Action on the 26th August to show opposition to this sudden and devastating cut in funding.

Further reading:

Sam Shepherd’s blog post – “Cuts: The kind of post I don’t want to write.”


Love FE day - one world one people-1040151 All out to Join the Celebration of Lifelong Learning

UCU London Region has called a national demonstration on Saturday 25th April. Action for ESOL is supporting this call. We want to turn the day into “A festival of education” with ESOL teach outs, games, singing, food, theatre and more.

What you can do:

* Download the NEW flyer with amended route here : April 25 UCU Demo revised

* Organise a rota to leaflet your workplace every day to build the demo.

* Approach your management to support the demo.

Invite your MP to join the demo and send a letter asking them to sign the Early Day Motion

* Sign the petition and send it to your work colleagues and friends.

* If your College has not yet set up a campaign to save Adult Education and you want to start one, but are not sure how, contact us.

* Organise a coach to the demo from your region

Thanks for supporting the lobby, now join the demo this Wednesday 25 March at 6pm!

Adult ed lobby with bankers banner-1040129From UCU:

Save Lifelong Learning Campaign

Following the success of the London region lobby of parliament on Wednesday 18th March which several hundred staff and students attended, the campaign against the cuts continues to win widespread support.

ALL branches are called on to

* publicise the London Region demonstration on Wednesday 25th March at 6pm, details and downloadable flyer

* actively support ‘love FE day’ next Thursday 26 March which aims to celebrate lifelong learning and calls for a STOP to the potentially devastating proposed cuts to further education (FE). UCU and campaign partners ask you to mark the day by highlighting the importance of FE and what all of our communities stand to lose if these cuts go ahead.

• Encourage all members to sign and circulate the petition to stop the cuts (nearly 20,000 people have signed already)

• Ask members to take a photo with the UCU poster (or create your very own!) and please send to and tweet using #loveFE

• Tell us why you Love FE – photos and messages will be displayed on the joint campaign website here.

• Make contact with your local general election candidates about the funding cuts using our online tool

• Already 40 MPs have signed an Early Day Motion (EDM) calling to stop the cuts. Has YOUR MP signed yet?

• Download and circulate 10 Point Charter for FE to all members for the future of further and adult education and our briefing on the cuts.

• Please tweet using #loveFE tag and let us know about any other activities you have planned.

Thousands of members have written on the petition describing how adult education transforms and enriches our lives. These cuts could be a deathblow to FE and we need to build a groundswell of opposition to force the coalition, the devolved governments and whoever is in Westminster after 7 May, to think again.

Please support the London demonstration on Wednesday 25th March at 6pm and the ‘love FE day’ on Thursday 26 March.

Join the lobby of Parliament to Save Adult and Further Education!

More Cuts to Further and Adult Education

On 26th February, the govt proposed 24% cuts to the adult education budget in England . This will decimate Further and Adult provision, including ESOL, and has been called a “wilful act of vandalism” by the Union of University and College lecturers (UCU).

Sign the Petition

We are calling on all our supporters to circulate and sign the petition launched by UCU and campaign partners including National Union of Students (NUS), Trade Union Congress (TUC), 157 group, the Association of Colleges (AoC), UNISON, National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE) and Unite, which has already collected nearly almost 15,000 signatures.

Join the Parliamentary Lobby – Wednesday 18th March at 1pm

UCU London region has organised a lobby of parliament on 18 March and a protest on 25 March. Download the flyer here: Don’t let them destroy life long learning flyer

We are calling on all ESOL teachers and students to email your local prospective parliamentary candidates using the UCU online tool and ask them to meet you at the Lobby of Parliament next Wednesday 18th March at 1pm.

On the day, there will be a mass picnic on the grass opposite Parliament, hosted by Tower Hamlets College. This will be followed by a photo shoot at 1pm sharp before we go in to Westminster together. Helpers will direct you. The visitors entrance is opposite Parliament square. See here for a map

How the lobby works: You will queue up from the visitors entrance and go through security. Then you are in the Palace of Westminster. You will naturally make your way through the building to the Octagon – a reception lobby just outside the Commons. There will be lots of us there by then to explain what to do. It’s easy. You can ’Green card’ your MP at the reception desk. A clerk will take your name and postcode and then go find your MP. Your MP will come and meet you to hear your concerns. You can give them notice you are coming - but this is not necessary, you can just turn up. If your MP is not available they will receive a record of your visit. In previous lobby’s people buddied up if there MPs were not available and had a chance to talk to other MPs and Ministers.

It is budget day so Parliament will be quite busy. After people have met MPs we have a Committee meeting room booked.

Here is a briefing you can use with some facts.

Don’t let them destroy lifelong learning meeting from 2pm onwards. Committee Room 11

Speakers so far include Sally Hunt UCU, John McDonnell MP, Rushanara Ali MP, Jim Fitzpatrick MP, Jeremy Corbyn MP, NUS, Ian Ashman (AoC) Principal Hackney, Gerry McDonald (AoC) Principal THC. We also have speakers from other trade unions including Christine Lewis, Head of Colleges, UNISON, a national officer from the NUT, UNITE,  and the FBU. We are chasing some up and have sent out more invites. We are hoping Meg Hillier MP and Dianne Abbot will also join us – please ask them if they are your MPs.

We have a waves of guest speakers some will arrive at 2pm and others at 3pm. We want everyone who comes on the lobby to join the debate and discussion about why adult education matters. We especially want to encourage as many students as possible to tell us in their own words why adult education is important to them.

Ask your MP to sign the Early Day Motion

An Early Day Motion (EDM) urging the government to rethink the proposed cuts has now garnered 27 MP signatures. Please contact your MP and ask them to sign the early day motion.

Download materials to use in your classes on the cuts

Funding Cuts_writing & reading practice paper

L1 L2 adult education cuts functional skills questions march 15

ucu lobby leaflet

E1 E2 reading and writing education cuts

adult education cuts functional skills questions march 15

Parliamentary Lobby 2nd April

Please join us for the UCU Parliamentary Lobby on FE Funding cuts, next Wednesday April 2nd at 2pm. We are asking all ESOL teachers and students to come along and tell their MP why Adult Education is so important for them.

Adult Education has suffered a 34% cut over the last few years & faces another 9% cut this year. We need to put pressure on MPs to protect ESOL, Access and all Adult Education before it disappears completely.

Students can write to their MPs and make an appointment to meet them at the lobby next Wednesday to say how education cuts are going to affect them.

They will need to go to this website: Type in their postcode to find their MP.

They can then write an email to them saying they are coming to the UCU Parliamentary Lobby on FE Funding next Wednesday; they would like to make an appointment to see the MP to talk about how cuts to education will affect them and their family; what they study, and why they need it.

More info about the lobby is here, lobby of parliament on 2nd April

See you there!

ESOL Students & Benefit Cuts

We Should Speak English ESOLjpeg

A free afternoon of workshops and discussion exploring the impact on ESOL students of welfare cuts, the expansion of benefit sanctions and workfare. Come along to share information and think about what we as teachers can do to support our students and show solidarity with them.

28th September
1 pm – 5 pm
University of London Union
Malet Street, WC1E 7HY
Nearest tubes: Russell Square, Goodge Street, Euston

Please to let us know you’re coming.

Boycott Workfare can cover your travel costs: just send a message

Outline of the Day

1.00 – 1.15 Registration, tea & coffee
1.15 – 1.45 Scene-setting: benefit cuts, sanctions, workfare and ESOL
1.45 – 3.00 Myth-busting and clarification on mandated activity and conditionality. Also – sharing information with the job centre: legal and ethical questions for teachers
3.00 – 3.15 Break
3.15 – 4.30 Supporting learners on Employment and Support Allowance (with Disabled People Against Cuts). Sharing ideas for participatory lessons on benefits
4.30 – 5.00 Planning our next steps

Boycott Workfare is a UK-wide campaign to end forced unpaid work for people who receive social security. We take action against organisations profiting from workfare, encourage others to pledge to boycott it and actively inform people of their rights.

t: @boycottworkfare | f: /boycottworkfare

Action for ESOL is an alliance of unions and migrant and refugee organisations. We campaign against cuts to ESOL and for free English language classes for all those who need them.

t: @actionforesol | f: search action for esol


Eli Davies on ESOL and Immigration

Eli Davies of Action for ESOL writes about ESOL and Immigration in the New Statesman.

“Migrants want to learn English: why isn’t the government investing to help them do so?”

Read the full article here.

Statement on George Osborne’s Spending Review of 26 June 2013

We Should Speak English ESOL

In his Spending Review, George Osborne announced that “From now on, if claimants don’t speak English, they will have to attend language courses until they do. This is a reasonable requirement in this country. It will help people find work. But if you’re not prepared to learn English, your benefits will be cut.”

As ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages)  teachers  and teaching union members, we know that this statement contains many contradictions which the national Action for ESOL campaign has highlighted again and again over the last few years.

First of all, the problem with learning English is not a lack of willingness to learn. Many ESOL providers report lengthy waiting lists and heavily over-subscribed courses; they cannot meet the demand. The problem for those who wish to learn English is the lack of access to classes due to year on year cuts to Further Education funding, cuts to FE and ESOL provision and loss of ESOL teaching jobs. Across the board, FE providers have suffered an 8% cut in funding this year and this has led to increased staff redundancies and course closures. In many individual colleges the funding cuts are as high as 25%.

In 2010 the national Action for ESOL campaign was co-founded by  ESOL  teachers  supported by UCU, NATECLA and other organisations as a response to the announcement that students on benefits, mainly women, would be forced to pay up to £1000 for an ESOL course. A year of campaigning resulted in a U-Turn by the government on this policy.

Another contradiction is that when students on benefits do get a place on an ESOL course, they are then penalised financially by restrictions on their eligibility for free classes. This is particularly the case for the those who are working in part-time or low -paid jobs who are forced to pay for a year’s course because the benefits they receive are classed as ‘inactive’. When George Osbourne says learning English will help people find work he is absolutely right. Yet under the same government policies, low paid workers are penalised despite being both willing to learn and also having succeeded in finding work.

The majority of migrants both want and need to learn English and the claim that they do not belongs to the racialised immigration and cultural agenda in which migrants are scape-goated and ‘language’ often serves as a proxy for race.

Anti-immigration and racist ideas are being popularised by  political parties like UKIP; the tragic death of Lee Rigby in Woolwich was exploited by far right organisations like the English Defence League by taking to the streets and attacking mosques round the country; and racially motivated assaults on individuals is on the increase. In this context, negative stereo-typing of ESOL learners and migrants in this way is not only a false portrayal of those who wish to learn English and find work, but also sets a dangerous tone for those groups who are becoming increasingly vulnerable.

Reports from the ESOL Parliamentary Lobby on 18.3.13


ESOL lobbyOver 300 ESOL students packed into Westminster for the Parliamentary Lobby on 18th March 2013, called by Action for ESOL and Heidi Alexander MP.

A speaker from the Skills Funding Agency, due to pressure from the students on the day, agreed that the funding protection for ESOL provision, already in place for 1 year, would be extended for a further year. This was a fantastic result and showed how well the students presented their case when they met with MPs and speakers at Parliament.

Copies of the materials provided by Action for ESOL can be found here:  Action for ESOL factsheet      Slideshow Presentation

and the Guardian article about the ESOL lobby  here .

These are 2 reports written by students who attended the lobby:


My name is Jelena and I’m 29 years old. I came into United Kingdom 6 years ago when I was 24 years old.

When I arrived in England I could not speak, write or understand English at all. It was very difficult to even buy a loaf of bread without having a friend with me to translate.

After sometime I found out about Lewisham College and how they could help me. I decided to join on trial basis and carried on.

I managed to achieve not only understanding but also speaking and writing, which has benefited me a lot. I believe it is not only me who has benefited from all this but everyone who joins on this course.

Within the 3 years so far at Lewisham College I have gone through ESOL Entry 1 and Entry 2 and ESOL Entry 3 now together with Health and Social Care.

All these courses have made me able to settle in England and also communicate with everyone making me a better person.

I also now can apply for jobs which before I could not because of lack of English.

I would like to plead with you not to close these classes.


ESOL for us!                 Debate at the Houses of Parliament

Over the last few years the European Union has been considerably affected by the potentially bad economic situation. The United Kingdom has  been one of the economies that superficially looks good, apart from the cuts that have affected many people. ESOL is one of these ‘cuts’  and the threat is that it possibly won’t continue any more or be greatly reduced.

In March 2013 I was invited to support, different groups that are against of these ‘cuts’ in a parliamentary session at the Houses of Parliament and I was there for the whole afternoon with the many other people who feel strongly about this.

I realized there the great number of people who have been helped through “English as a Second Language”.  This has helped the individuals concerned and also society, as people are able to find better jobs and to integrate more if their language improves.

I’d like to add that all those personal little stories expressed at the session room at Houses of Parliament have increased my interest in supporting this movement and also I feel very happy that I have been helped and encouraged by ESOL. It was a very interesting experience for me and I learnt a lot.  I hope ESOL will continue for others.

Jorge Alba


The  main points of the funding methodology and the transitional arrangements:

·        The new funding methodology is based on QCF credits. ESOL qualifications are not yet on the QCF so they stand outside the new methodology. There is work going on around new ESOL qualifications which will be part of the QCF. This is why they were assigned guided learning hours. In 2015 at least part of the SFA funding will be made over to Local Enterprise Partnerships.

·        Transitional arrangements for the next 2 academic years.  Learners who started before 2013/2014 will be funded to completion at 2012/2013 rates, making sure that the full rate is earned when they achieve their learning aim. This applies to 2 year courses not when a student repeats the course. So this means that the funding for those students starting in 2013/2014 will be funded at + or – 3% of the funding earned for similar courses limited to gains and losses of 3% in 2013/2014. This will be = or –  6% in 2014/2015, based on like-for-like provision and the provider’s earnings from 2011/2012

·        If there are still some providers with significant funding losses or gains than the SFA will consider extending the transitional arrangements on a case-by-case basis.

·        The latest SFA publication (attached) says this about ESOL: ” Make sure that ESOL provision is protected separately until the new ESOL curriculum is developed in the QCF. For 2013/2014 this will operate using the funding-claims process, where we compare earnings against payments made to a provider. We will make sure that earnings relating to ESOL provision are at least the same as in 2012/2013, based on like-for-like provision.

·         The recent announcements on the Loans Scheme applications to date from BIS all stress that younger learners are more prepared to take out loans and this could impact on ESOL learners.