Poor provision and a lack of teachers have left English language courses in a dire state, according to new evidence published today.
The National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE) has led an independent inquiry, entitled “More than a language”, investigating the problems facing the provision of English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), and will display its findings at a conference held today in Westminster.
Derek Grover CB, Chair of the Committee of Inquiry, said: “Having a successful system of ESOL is of fundamental importance to this country. But there are significant issues to be addressed if we are to meet that challenge”.
The report has found that despite significant investment and with demand for ESOL courses rising, there is a “serious cause for concern”. A statement released last week states that: “Funding is not always well targeted to those in greatest need and the quality of provision is worryingly patchy with too much sub-standard provision”.
Recommendations for improving ESOL provision include a fundamental cross-government review of ESOL as part of the forthcoming Comprehensive Spending Review; the delivery of ESOL to be co-ordinated across the full range of government policies and the full range of providers; increasing the range of funding sources available and building on the progress made on ESOL teacher qualifications and to improve teacher supply and quality.
Mr Grover continued: “This report sets out a package of recommendations which we believe would have a major positive impact, and we hope that government, funders, infrastructure bodies and providers will respond positively to it. This is a challenge that, as a nation, we can not afford to shirk”.
Peter Lavender, Director of Research and Development at NIACE, said: “Effective ESOL is critical to enabling half a million adults to gain independence and control over their lives”.
“It makes economic sense to help people communicate effectively and it is a precondition for social inclusion. NIACE is proud to publish the work of the Inquiry since we believe it points the way to a robust and lasting settlement that can guarantee adults access to ESOL”.
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