We saved ESOL

Posted: December 18, 2011 by rabidleftwinger in Children and Young People, Demonstrate, Rally & Occupy!


Save ESOL demonstration in Brixton, Photo © Guy Smallman

This month saw a fantastic result for the Action for ESOL campaign, as the government announced that the huge U-Turn on their plans to make students on benefits pay for English classes would now stay in place until 2013.

The initial plans changed funding eligibility for all adult learners on so-called ‘inactive’ benefits. This meant that up to 75% of students learning English for speakers of other languages (ESOL), mainly women from black and minority ethnic groups, would not have been able to afford to pay for English classes as students on benefits such as income support would be asked to pay up to £1200 for a course.

Action for ESOL started in January by the University and College Union (UCU) and other bodies such as the Refugee Council to oppose the eligibility changes. This successful campaign has included parliamentary lobbying by MPs, as well as students and practitioners in colleges and community groups up and down the country holding ESOL teach-ins, letter-writing campaigns and demonstrations.

The August U-turn was an important victory for Action for ESOL as, although the concessions did not apply to those on working tax credit and low-income workers on benefits, most of the 250,000 adult places at risk could be saved for one more year.

This new announcement means that Adult Education is now protected for a further year and the majority of ESOL students can continue their studies until 2013.

If you’re interested in finding out more please visit Action for ESOL, or download the UCU Further Education paper

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