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General Election 2024: Our #ESOLasks

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19 June 2024
Yorkshire and Humberside, North West and North Wales, Midlands, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales, London, North East, South East England, South West England, East of England

Ahead of the 2024 general election, NATECLA has laid out its vision for ESOL across the UK:

Founded in 1978, NATECLA has a track record of working with policymakers and others to improve the availability and accessibility of English language support for migrants, including people seeking International Protection and those who have been granted Refugee status. We also work to enhance the professional development and support available to those teaching and managing ESOL provision. 

We believe migrants’ opportunities to learn English are fundamental to community cohesion and inclusion. We regret the financial squeeze on adult education in all parts of the United Kingdom in recent years, and especially the expanding gap between demand for ESOL and the availability of suitable provision. Decisive action is needed to address this.

We also regret the increasingly widespread use of divisive rhetoric by politicians in recent years and the extent to which this has ‘normalised’ toxic discourses around migration and the scapegoating of migrants.

Ahead of the upcoming General Election, we have developed the following #ESOLasks for political parties and candidates in …


NATECLA’s #ESOLasks for England: at a glance

  1. Fair access: more consistent ESOL provision

    England-wide strategy and policy for English language learning that guarantees access to ESOL for all who need it.

  2. Fair funding: building capacity for ESOL

    funding rates and rules that recognise the time needed to learn a new language; avoid perverse incentives and address tutor recruitment and retention issues.

  3. Fair futures: enabling ESOL learners’ progression
  • support ESOL learners’ progression to further study and career development; easier recognition of their prior learning and qualifications; ESOL qualifications accepted on an equal basis to Functional Skills and GCSE English.


See the detail of our #ESOLasks for England.


Northern Ireland:

NATECLA’s #ESOLasks for Northern Ireland: at a glance

    1. Coherent cross-government strategy for expanding ESOL

      Executive Office needs to drive it, with all relevant departments (i.e. DfE, DfC, DE and DE); include decisive action to address teacher recruitment/retention issues.

    2. Address regional imbalances

      Prioritise expansion of provision outside Greater Belfast area, especially west of the Bann; work constructively with community sector providers to expand capacity.

    3. Plan for the future - be proactive about shaping an ESOL curriculum and qualifications that meet the needs of learners and are easily understood; forge greater cooperation and coordination of ESOL provision across the island of Ireland.

    See the detail of our #ESOLasks for Northern Ireland.



    NATECLA’s #ESOLasks for Scotland: at a glance

    1. Reinstate standalone ESOL strategy for Scotland

      Carry out substantial mapping of current provision and unmet needs, recognising the diversity of ESOL learner cohorts and their shifting needs; maintain alignment with the ethos of the New Scots migrant integration strategy.

    2. Recognise importance of community-based ESOL provision

      as well as that delivered through FE colleges; all should have dedicated and ringfenced ESOL funding.

    3. Develop the ESOL workforce

    expand the training and professional development of ESOL tutors; encourage social practice and learner-centred approaches, as well as supporting learners’ progression to further study and/or career development.

    See the detail of our #ESOLasks for Scotland.



    NATECLA’s #ESOLasks for Wales: at a glance

    1. Press ahead with ESOL policy review recommendations

      make ESOL provision in Wales more accessible and responsive to learners’ needs; expand ESOL initial teacher training and access to ongoing professional development.

    2. Give ESOL full parity of esteem with Essential Communication Skills

      end perverse funding and other incentives that have forced learners to attempt Essential Skills or GCSE; ensure ESOL qualifications are accepted on an equal basis within apprenticeships/traineeships and by employers.

    3. Plan for the future

    take note of curriculum, standards and qualification reforms advocated in Bell Foundation Report; be proactive about shaping appropriate solutions for Wales that meet the needs of learners and are easily understood; promote the growth of WSOL provision.

    See the detail of our #ESOLasks for Wales.


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