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Open Letter to mayor sadiq Khan

Add your signature if you care about ESOL!

Dear Mayor Khan,

We are Londoners who care about ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) provision in our city. We want your help to make it better. 

ESOL is one of the cornerstones of a fair and equal London. It helps migrants make the most of their lives here, making friends and learning about life in London. It can help people find work or access training, as well as take part in the civic and political life of the city. Not just learning to play by the rules, but learning how to challenge and change them.

We know you care about ESOL too, many of us were there at the London Citizens assembly at the CopperBox in 2016, where you spoke of its importance. We also know that funding for adult education is tight across the board. Funding for ESOL in the UK has fallen from over £200 million in 2009 to a little more than £100 million today. We want to work with you to raise the profile of ESOL, nationally, and make the case that it is a vital public service and needs proper funding, at least back to 2009 levels. 

Alongside dozens of other ESOL providers and organisations, we are campaigning nationally for an ESOL strategy for England and increased funding, but you can help us with this here in London.

Migrants across London struggle to find an appropriate class. At the moment most ESOL learners find classes incidentally, by word of mouth, and have nowhere to access information about alternative ESOL providers when they are put on a waiting list or turned away by a provider. This leads to long waiting lists in some centres while other providers may struggle to fill their classes; this is an inefficient use of resources. Students having to rely on word of mouth results in delays in accessing education. Mothers with young children are unable to access classes without childcare, workers are unable to access classes at times that fit with their work schedules, some students are excluded by eligibility restrictions tied to immigration status. These barriers impede English language learners’ ability to fully take part in the social and economic life of the city. This is because of a lack of any clear centralised and up-to-date source of information about ESOL classes in London. 

From listening to hundreds of learners and ESOL providers, we identified an acute need for a website that helps ESOL learners and those supporting them to find classes that are suitable. The website needs to include all essential  information regarding courses including cost, childcare, location, day and time, levels, certificates as well as information concerning immigration status restrictions. To be useful it would need to be regularly updated and therefore as well as the initial set up costs, there would need to be staff time allocated to it. Yorkshire’s website Learningenglish.org.uk is a good model for this. If Yorkshire can do it, why can’t London?

Thank you for all you do for London. We look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards,

The ESOL community

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