Migration and English Language Learning after Brexit
This report looks at the future for English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) learning in the content of new immigration policies, the recovery from coronavirus, and Adult Education Budget devolution. Drawing on desk research and stakeholder interviews in the West Midlands region, the report considers key questions for the sector and policy makers, including:
- What’s behind ESOL policy in England?
- Who needs ESOL?
- Who learns ESOL, and who is missing out?
- What are the implications of changes to immigration policy for the demand for ESOL?
- How should the ESOL sector respond?
The report highlights that the potential benefit of ESOL to the UK economy is often ignored and sets out the following key findings:
- ESOL policy needs a stronger emphasis on economic and social integration
- Learning opportunities must meet diverse needs
- Barriers to ESOL need to be addressed through flexibility in funding and provision
- AEB funding needs flexibility to meet needs and skills agendas
- New immigration policy will affect the language profile of new arrivals
- Demand for ESOL may shift to higher levels and vocational needs
The report recommends that policy makers and ESOL providers should keep track of changes in learner needs and demand, and be ready to adapt and respond, and suggests some areas for the development of policy and practice:
- Provision should reflect different needs and motivations for learning English, with routes open between formal and less formal learning provision to meet changing needs. Local ESOL hubs can play a role in joining up a varied local learning offer.
- Providers should work with local stakeholders to develop an enhanced ESOL and vocational learning offer.
- Multiple strategies are needed to address barriers to participation in ESOL learning, with funding supporting community and workplace delivery, and an enhanced online learning offer for those learners who can benefit.
- Eligibility for fully-funded ESOL should be extended to excluded groups, to ensure early access to language learning, which benefits learners, society and the economy.