#LoveESOL is a campaign to promote ESOL in London. EFA is proud to be a founding member of this amazing coalition of 39+ organisations. We are calling for more funding from the government because we believe ESOL is a vital public service that benefits all of us, not only new arrivals: it is crucial for healthy communities and a thriving economy, as well as for the well-being of people who are new to the UK.
Since 2017, we have been organising #LoveESOL events with the aim to engage with policymakers. This ensures ESOL students, teachers, volunteers and supporters can influence how ESOL is provided.
Over the years, hundreds of students have been involved in the campaign. We started with a big teach-out in the green space outside City Hall, which led to invitations to hold an event inside the building the following years and present our asks to the Mayor’s team, and meet with key members of staff. The event has historically coincided with the European Day of Languages (26th September), so it is also a celebration of London’s multilingualism and linguistic diversity.
We now meet annually to look at ESOL provision in London and share our expertise with the Greater London Authority (GLA).
Current #LoveESOL campaign asks are:
1. Better access to free ESOL classes for all, regardless of childcare or work commitments, or immigration status. We want free ESOL provision, providing childcare and removing eligibility criteria.
2. An ESOL for London website with a database of what’s on offer across London for students to identify a suitable class. With information on cost, childcare, location, day and time, levels and certificates. PLUS information about any immigration status restrictions.
3. Solidarity for a bigger voice for ESOL to help restore funding and improve public understanding of ESOL students’ experiences and the importance of ESOL.
To date, our LoveESOL coalition of 40 London organisations has secured the following successes:
- New ESOL coordinator posts have been introduced at City Hall and in several local authorities across London.
- The GLA has increased the wage threshold for accessing free, publicly funded ESOL classes to include anyone earning under the London Living Wage. This has made ESOL accessible for approximately 40,000 low-earners in London.
- In 2020, the GLA has also widened the eligibility criteria for accessing ESOL classes to include more people seeking asylum and from EU/EEA backgrounds.
- In 2022, the GLA announced further widening eligibility criteria for accessing ESOL which included, for the first time, ESOL for those with No Recourse to Public Funds.
- In 2022, the GLA also launched its pilot Migrant Londoners Hub, which included the first draft of a map aggregating many resources for migrants and refugees, including ESOL.
- Key GLA personnel including the Deputy Mayor for Skills and the Deputy Mayor for Social Integration have engaged with our students, staff and partners at LoveESOL events, and Mayor Sadiq Khan made a public commitment to improving access to ESOL during his 2021 reelection campaign, including access to ESOL explicitly in his election manifesto.
- ESOL directories have been launched in Brent, Southwark, and Lambeth, collating available local classes for residents all in one place and making it easier to find open places for interested learners.
- A pilot project has been funded to assess the impact of providing ESOL courses that include childcare.
- ESOL stakeholder networks – convening ESOL providers, local authorities, and key local stakeholders including organisations representing and supporting migrants, refugees and people seeking asylum – have been formed in several London boroughs, including Southwark and Greenwich.
Find out more at LoveESOL.co.uk.