The National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE) has given a cautious welcome to the government’s decision to offer more support for English learners in poor communities.
The Equality Impact Assessment, issued on Monday 18 July, highlighted the risk that women in the poorest communities, and particularly women with children, would be unable to learn English when government subsidy of fee levels was withdrawn. The new measures will help offset that risk, but to what extent will only be clear later in the summer.
Alan Tuckett, Chief Executive of NIACE, said:
“The decision to develop new forms of community-based support using funding from the Department for Communities and Local Government is welcome. But this welcome has to be qualified, until the size of the new funding available is clear, and until these new measures are complemented by local flexibility for institutions to ensure that people in need do not miss out.
“NIACE broadly accepts the three principles informing John Hayes' approach to English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) - that people actively seeking work should receive support; that people in the most disadvantaged communities should be protected and prioritised, and that employers should pay for workers without English skills recruited to work in Britain.
“There are however many people needing ESOL provision - in work and out of it - who are not covered by these criteria and who will be excluded because they cannot afford the fees to take classes. At the same time, colleges in areas with ESOL demand risk being unable to draw down their full funding allocation.”
Posted by Jacqui Fox
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