By David Hagendyk
The first roundtable was held in December last year and brought together stakeholders delivering ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) to look at challenges in the sector, innovation in Wales and elsewhere that is driving change, and solutions for the future.
Following the report by the Assembly’s Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee last year into refuges and asylum seekers in Wales, the Welsh Government committed to revise ESOL policy. Our recommendations are designed to help inform that process of change.
We heard about the barriers learners face (practical, financial, and cultural) and the challenge of not enough provision at the right levels and in the right places. We heard too about the challenge of supporting families from Syria, particularly from more rural areas with lower levels of literacy and numeracy.
We also heard about excellent provision helping to change people’s lives and how innovation through Cardiff and Vale REACH (led by Cardiff and Vale College) is starting to bring greater coherence to how learners are assessed and supported.
There are big challenges but also reasons to be cheerful that meaningful change and improvements are possible. Our recommendations for change below are hopefully a good starting point for policy makers:
As always, there is a huge amount of good practice to draw on and practical examples of where particular changes could make a real difference. The revised Welsh Government ESOL policy will be a chance to test the ambition we have as a nation for fellow citizens who have come to make Wales their home.