Mayoral candidates pledge to improve access to English classes 

#LoveESOL campaigners.

#LoveESOL campaign has managed to get two mayoral candidates to commit to launching and staffing a website for free English classes. - Credit: English For Action

Hackney migrants could benefit from a comprehensive website for English classes after mayoral candidates Shaun Bailey and Sadiq Khan pledged to launch one if elected.

The #LoveESOL coalition, made up of 32 organisations including Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) students and providers, unions and migrants’ rights groups, called on the next mayor of London to improve access to vital English classes in front of an audience of over 5,000 online viewers, at the London Citizens Mayoral Accountability Assembly.

After the #LoveESOL coalition presented its campaign at the assembly on April 28, Conservative candidate Shaun Bailey and current mayor and Labour candidate Sadiq Khan gave firm commitments to launching and staffing a multilingual website for ESOL classes.

Many migrants new to the capital and country find it difficult to access English classes, such as English for Action ESOL student Nabila Bouali,

Nabila, who is originally from Algeria but now lives in Hackney, said: “ESOL is not just important for me, I think that it is very important for anyone who comes to the UK from elsewhere and wants to live and work in London.

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“They absolutely need English."

Hackney resident and ESOL student Nabila Bouali.

Hackney resident and ESOL student Nabila Bouali. - Credit: Courtesy of Nabila Bouali

She said when she came to London a year ago it was "very difficult" to find a school or centres offering free English lessons, adding: “It took me six months of staying home with nothing to do to find a class.

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"When I learned about an ESOL class through a friend, I signed up and ever since I have been taking lessons. It has helped me a lot. I am thankful to ESOL and support the #LoveESOL campaign.”

A June 2019 Department for Education report on ESOL provision has seen cuts of over 50 per cent in the past decade and the coalition adds that this has led to long waiting lists. 

Alongside prohibitive costs, restrictive eligibility criteria and lack of clarity on where to find information on classes, this means many migrants are missing out on provision. 

The #LoveESOL coalition has been calling for a regularly updated, staffed website that aggregates information about all classes available in London.

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