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NIACE inquiry proposes 39 recommendations to govt for improvement

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”.

Vijay Pattni.

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