Cameron’s ESOL cuts will make integration harder

The government's cuts to English for Second Language classes make a mockery of the David Cameron's call for immigrants to integrate more in his immigration speech.

Sally Hunt is the general secretary of the University and College Union (UCU)

In a keynote speech on immigration today, a couple of weeks before elections, David Cameron conceded that immigration is a hugely emotive issue that must be handled with sensitivity.

Some might question how sensitive it is to then talk about ‘good’ and ‘mass’ immigration and warn immigrants that they must learn English, at a time when his government is slashing both funding and opportunities for people who desperately want to learn the language.

English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) has seen a cut of 32 per cent in funding in the last two years.

Furthermore, according to the Action for ESOL campaign, changes to eligibility for free ESOL classes will result in around 100,000 people, three-quarters of whom are women, being hit with fees of up to £1,200 – charges they simply cannot afford.

In a survey by the Association of Colleges, 75 per cent of colleges said they would have to reduce the amount of ESOL provision they provide if there were no concessions around the changes to who is entitled to free ESOL classes, because of their concern at students’ ability to pay the fees.

The cuts to further education funding are creating the most serious crisis for the future of ESOL the country has seen. If the government truly wants people to integrate and be part of its ‘big society’ then language is the key. Among the people learning ESOL that we speak to are those who have fled war-torn countries; they want to work and want to pay their way, but they need to be able to speak the language to do that.

The prime minister’s attack comes just days after his fact-free attack on Oxford University’s record of recruiting black students and seems symptomatic of a government keen to chase a headline but not keen to explore or understand the real problems behind an issue.

Learning English on arrival in this country is the best way to get people out of poverty and into their local communities. It is the responsibility of, and in the interests of, numerous government departments to ensure people are not excluded from being able to learn English and that must be reflected in who picks up the tab.

We, literally, cannot afford the most needy and vulnerable in society to become further marginalised through an inability to learn and speak the language of this country. Something the prime minister should consider before making ill-advised attacks on immigrants.

24 Responses to “Cameron’s ESOL cuts will make integration harder”

  1. Tina

    RT @leftfootfwd: Cameron's ESOL cuts will make integration harder: //bit.ly/i5q7uM writes @UCU's Sally Hunt

  2. Dan Ashley

    RT @leftfootfwd: Cameron's ESOL cuts will make integration harder: //bit.ly/i5q7uM writes @UCU's Sally Hunt

  3. Chris Swithinbank

    RT @leftfootfwd: Cameron's ESOL cuts will make integration harder: //bit.ly/i5q7uM writes @UCU's Sally Hunt

  4. SHAZIA ARSHAD

    RT @leftfootfwd: Cameron's ESOL cuts will make integration harder: //bit.ly/i5q7uM writes @UCU's Sally Hunt

  5. Jenny Bunker

    RT @leftfootfwd: Cameron's ESOL cuts will make integration harder: //bit.ly/i5q7uM writes @UCU's Sally Hunt

  6. Rosalind Thompson

    RT @leftfootfwd: Cameron's ESOL cuts will make integration harder //bit.ly/h7zJpL << He says "learn English" & then cuts courses. #fail

  7. banyancafe

    RT @johannhari101 Cameron "immigrants should learn English", then shuts down programs to teach immigrants English //tinyurl.com/65nn9xg

  8. Hendrik Jasnoch

    Cameron says immigrants should learn English; shuts down programs that teach immigrants English //t.co/w74ONHZ /via @johannhari101

  9. alex_chase

    RT @LD_LDN: Cameron says immigrants should learn English, then shuts down the programs that teach English //tinyurl.com/65nn9xg

  10. keiko

    If it were not for English, I would not be what I am today. //bit.ly/h7zJpL

  11. Ben

    Cameron says immigrants should learn English, then shuts down loads of the programs that teach immigrants English //tinyurl.com/65nn9xg

  12. Finola Kerrigan

    RT @leftfootfwd: Cameron's ESOL cuts will make integration harder: //bit.ly/i5q7uM writes @UCU's Sally Hunt

  13. Dave Howard

    RT @johannhari101: Cameron says immigrants should learn English,then shuts programs that teach immigrants English //tinyurl.com/65nn9xg

  14. MUSHKUSH

    RT: @johannhari101: Cameron says immigrants shd learn English, then shuts programs that teach immigrants English //tinyurl.com/65nn9xg

  15. On Cameron and immigration (yes, another one) | a thousand things I want to say to you

    […] As well as maintaining their home language, immigrants do need access to English classes, ideally with crèches or vouchers to pay for childcare while they learn. But English classes are being cut . […]

  16. Phil Hodgson

    //tinyurl.com/65nn9xg Cameron's two faced approach. Say what the Daily Mail wants to hear, while cutting the very funding it needs.

  17. Tim Douglas

    RT @paulstpancras: Cameron's ESOL cuts make integration harder //bit.ly/i0tUr4

  18. KD

    RT @alex_chase: RT @LD_LDN:Cameron says immigrants should learn English,then shuts down progs that teach English //tinyurl.com/65nn9xg

  19. phat catz

    Cameron wants immigrants to speak English but cuts funding for programs that teach immigrants English //bit.ly/gDhXV7 #migrants

  20. Action for ESOL

    Comment by Sally Hunt, UCU on ESOL cuts RT @leftfootfwd: Cameron's ESOL cuts will make integration harder //bit.ly/h7zJpL

  21. Celia Seymour

    RT @leftfootfwd: Cameron's ESOL cuts will make integration harder //bit.ly/h7zJpL

  22. Cumbrian Parent

    RT @CheSeymour: RT @leftfootfwd: Cameron's ESOL cuts will make integration harder //bit.ly/h7zJpL

  23. Maria Wolters

    If you want immigrants to, y'know, learn English and integrate, don't cut funding for ESOL classes: //t.co/cnqPhiS (via many Tweeps)

  24. blogs of the world

    The government's cuts to English for Second Language classes make a mockery of the David C… //reduce.li/6ql58b #harder

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