Greenman's Occasional Organ

Ecosocialist. Syndicalist. Critical Techno-Progressive.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Defend ESOL Provision

This is the text of a message circulating via e-mail from Paul Mackney of the University and College Union on the current threat to English For Speakers Of Other Languages provision:

Dear colleague,

Staff in further education, and in adult and community education, face
enormous pressures including cuts in provision. The latest development
is that the government has decided to restrict free access to courses
in English for Speakers of Other Languages.

Concern about these restrictions and their implications for the low
paid, for migrant workers and asylum seekers is widespread. UCU is also
seriously concerned about the impact on both colleges and their staff.

English language skills, for workers and families, are central to
social inclusion and integration - another major government objective.
Government ministers including Alan Johnson and Gordon Brown have stressed
the importance of this provision.

Nevertheless, without warning, the government has decided to restrict
entitlement to free ESOL. The decision has been widely criticised by all
political parties, every union, college principals, and many
independent organisations.

I am therefore writing to UCU members - and to the many organisations
who have already expressed opposition to this decision - asking that you
join the campaign we have launched and do two immediate steps:

1. Publicise and join the lobby of parliament UCU has organised in
conjunction with over 50 organisations and other unions on 28 February with
a view to persuading the government to change its stance. Many college
principals have already indicated support for our campaign and for
college deputations to the lobby.

2. Sign the petition we have launched and invite all your students and
colleagues (whether UCU members or not) to do the same. You can sign
the petition online or download a form to collect signatures yourself at:

Finally I would draw your attention to an excellent article summarising
our case, by Roger Kline of UCU, who is jointly leading this important
campaign, in The Guardian at:,,1986359,00.html

Yours sincerely

Paul Mackney
UCU joint general secretary

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