NATECLA statement on withdrawal of ESOL Plus mandated learning July 15
Withdrawal of ESOL Plus Mandated Learning: NATECLA Statement
21 July 2015
Yesterday the SFA (Skills Funding Agency) published a letter to the sector that not only retrospectively cut a further 3.9% from adult skills budgets set in March on top of the previous 24% already announced, but also cut all of the ESOL Plus Mandation funding from August 2015.
This will have an immediate and devastating impact on ESOL (English for Speakers of other Languages) provision across the country, with the timing of the cuts being particularly pernicious, not only after the implementation of existing cuts, but at a time during the college cycle where planning for the next academic year is finished, prospectuses have been published and learners and teachers are in place.
An estimated £45 million of funding had been allocated to ESOL mandated learning, targeted at Job Centre Plus (JCP) claimants who are identified to have a language level that prevents them from getting employment. Providers from across the country are working with Job Centre Plus screening all new claimants to identify individuals who would benefit from English and employability classes, aimed at removing barriers to employment. This helps those who need it the most by proactively identifying people who are below Entry 3, many of whom are new to learning English.
With less than two weeks’ notice all funding has now been withdrawn. Thousands of JCP claimants will now have to find other ways to access ESOL classes, if any exist locally, to break down the barriers they have to employment, and are likely to remain on benefits as a result.
The impact on providers during these uncertain times will also be extremely negative and have an immediate impact. Many mandated ESOL classes have been planned to run through the summer, so this sudden cut is devastating for individual teachers, many of whom have specialist qualifications and many years of experience and are now facing an uncertain future with further reductions in hours or redundancy. We are dismayed at both the content and timing of this announcement, which appears to have scant regard for the needs of ESOL learners and those who teach them. The impact on these claimants’ ability to find work and become independent members of our society will be very significant.