Getting it right…sort of

We have had the current Edumonolith in our sights for some time at EducationState but for once we are going to come out in support.

ESOL

Since it was announced that there wouldn’t be automatic fee remission for ESOL students, there have been howls of protest from refugee groups, teaching unions and even the right-wing press. But, speaking from experience (one of our Editors is an ESOL practitioner) it is clear that the Government have got it right.

We say this for the following reasons:

1. Student numbers, especially at Beginner level, are down, despite the line being peddled in the Press. And down quite significantly.

2. Even with the long waiting lists of last year, it is clearly not essential for those students with stronger language skills to take ESOL courses as they already have the ability to find work.

3. Most importantly, students should contribute if they can. That’s only fair. Those who cannot afford to pay won’t have to and vice versa.

Of course, nothing is perfect. What is worrying is that there will be a number of existing students who will choose not to re-enrol because they work in the cash economy and therefore can’t or won’t provide proof of income in order to claim benefits. Obviously, given a choice, work will come before a class. This means that social mobility, social inclusion and fairness don’t apply to the most needy; the ones the Government is seeking to protect. Instead of basing it on benefits claimed, B-liar and his gang should base free course entitlement on whether there is a need. Entry 3 could be the cut-off point, for it is here that immigrants gain the right to apply for citizenship as well as a chance to move into mainstream education. The Government’s policy is too ambitious and too strict. It is wrong to expect immigrants to reach Level 2 before they can study Access to University course especially as the majority of higher level ESOL students already have first degrees and/or professional qualifications. By lowering their sights a little and concentrating on those who need it most, Edumonolith could save money and advance social equality.

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