Skip to main content

English Language Teaching

Volume 455: debated on Monday 15 January 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what plans he has to improve the (a) accessibility and (b) affordability of English for Speakers of Other Languages courses; and if he will make a statement. (115180)

I announced in October 2006 the withdrawal of automatic fee remission from courses in English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) from August 2007. This move follows significant growth in spend on ESOL, which tripled between 2001 and 2005. At the same time, however, learners from priority groups who need to improve their English skills for employability and integration are finding it increasingly difficult to access the help they need quickly. The change to fee remission policy will help us to focus limited resources on those learners who most need our support.

Those learners in receipt of benefits or on working tax credit will be eligible for full fee remission. However, the Government will continue to support the cost of learning for those who are asked for a contribution and will fund around 77 per cent. of the overall cost of learning. It is reasonable that where employers are benefiting from the opportunity to recruit in large numbers from outside the UK we should ask them to fund the full cost of English language learning and where employers seek training provision through programmes such as Train to Gain, ESOL costs will be considered as part of the overall package.