Dismore motion to reverse English Language teaching cuts passed by London Assembly
At the London Assembly plenary Andrew Dismore, Labour London Assembly member for Barnet and Camden successfully proposed a motion over the Conservative Government’s cuts to English Language (ESOL) teaching.
Mr Dismore said:
‘It is hardly joined up Government, is it, for one department, the DWP, to mandate people to go on ESOL courses or lose their benefit on the one hand; and on the other for another department, BIS, to entirely cut the funding for such mandated courses?
‘On 6 January 2015, the Mayor said on LBC that ‘Everybody in London should be able to speak English’. How is that going to happen when job seekers are in this Catch 22; and the Conservative Government’s other cuts to the Adult Skills Budget hit ESOL courses, so that refugees and asylum seekers who want to learn English are turned away from FE colleges like Barnet and Southgate?
‘The Conservatives don’t seem to be concerned that these cuts will prevent Londoners not only from integrating into wider society, but from getting into employment and off benefits. Many high-level professionals who come to this country will also now be held back from offering their vital skills to the economy.’
Mr Dismore added that in July 2015 David Cameron said:
“We need to lift the horizons of some of our most isolated and deprived communities. At the moment we have parts of our country where opportunities remain limited; where language remains a real barrier; where too many women from minority communities remain trapped outside the workforce and where educational attainment is low.”
Mr Dismore said: ‘Their actions are the opposite of what the Prime Minister said.’
After the debate Mr Dismore said:
‘The Mayor should be on top of this, as it is so important for Londoners who need to learn English to get on. The Conservatives’ attitude is little use in helping community cohesion and in giving migrants, refugees and asylum seekers a fair chance to build their lives for the future. The Mayor needs to get himself properly briefed and then to take up the impact of these cuts on our FE colleges’ ability to provide these essential courses with the relevant ministers.
ESOL teacher Shay Dolan of Barnet and Southgate College said:
‘The latest cuts have resulted in colleges across the country facing the prospect of redundancies in ESOL as well as other adult skills areas. Aside from the likely job cuts, potential ESOL students in the future face having no access to courses unless they can pay or are willing to take out loans. Most would be reluctant to do this both for fear of acquiring debts that cannot be repaid, but also for cultural reasons. The government has also pointed to the alternative of employers funding learners’ ESOL studies but we know from past experience that most employers are not in a position to pay for employees to learn English. A very large proportion of our students are women who are motivated as much by the need to support their families by learning English, as they are by the need to work. This is not at all recognised in the government’s policy, and with talk of how best to fight extremism, a policy that is likely to leave sections of our communities isolated makes no sense at all.’