English Language Teaching: Refugees

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:29 pm on 24th October 2017.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Caroline Spelman Caroline Spelman The Second Church Estates Commissioner 4:29 pm, 24th October 2017

Training is part of it. Mr Cunningham has just referred to the additional £10 million that the Government are providing to teach English. If refugees are to be trained, the first step is to train them in a language that they understand. Basic English learning has to be the start point; the training that they need to get a job is stage two. Resources are needed for both.

As the Second Church Estates Commissioner, I cannot miss the opportunity to point out that the Archbishop of Canterbury has said that we must be

“builders of bridges and not barriers”.

That is all of us; that is why we are here today.

English for speakers of other languages—known as ESOL—classes are essential to enable contact and integration, which is critical for building stronger communities. It is therefore essential both for the wellbeing of the refugees and for the population of our country as a whole. We must remember that ESOL funding has improved for some specific groups. In September last year, the Home Secretary pledged £10 million over the next five years in additional ESOL funding, available to refugees who arrive under the vulnerable persons resettlement scheme. Additionally, in July this year, the Home Secretary announced that the Syrian VPRS was to be expanded to include all nationalities affected by the Syrian conflict, because we know it has had an impact on the wider region.