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More English lessons required for refugees in UK

Published on 22/12/2009

All refugees must have access to English lessons to help them successfully integrate and access jobs in the capital according to a new strategy for the Mayor of London. Boris Johnson recently launched 'London Enriched' and announced that his new migration board will prioritise lobbying for better ESOL (English for speakers of other languages) provision across London.

Mayor Boris Johnson said: ‘It is imperative that refugees learn English as soon as possible to ease their integration into London life. Without it, they face immense barriers to gaining employment and further education, the necessary tools that will enable them to fully function and contribute to society. I want to help direct more government support for language provision in London and I’ve formed a multi-agency migration board to prioritise this issue and identify resources to boost provision.

‘London is a great, teeming cosmopolis of talent and my ancestors benefited from being able to come to this great city and I’m very proud of that.  We don’t want to become a society that is hostile to the talent and energy people can offer. Refugees bring skills, experience, knowledge and often an entrepreneurial spirit that can make a vital contribution to London’s economy. But it must be a two way street, built on positive engagement by both refugees and settled communities for the benefit of all Londoners.’

Donna Covey, Chief Executive of the Refugee Council said: ‘We’re very pleased the Mayor recognises the huge contribution refugees make to London, and how important it is that there is a strategy to ensure they are able to continue to do so.  The process of integration starts from the moment a refugee arrives here, and we look forward to working with him to ensure that there are enough opportunities for refugees to learn English, look for work, and rebuild their lives as part of thriving, successful communities.’

The report focuses on several core objectives to aid successful integration including:

  • English language – ensuring all refugees have access to appropriate tuition
  • Employment – improving the ability of refugees to find jobs by promoting training and skills
  • Community safety – Ensure that the police and justice system deliver high quality services
  • Children and Young People – giving refugee kids the same opportunities as their peers

The Mayor has appointed Deputy Mayor Richard Barnes as chair of the London Strategic Migration Partnership. The board will identify how existing ESOL funds might be better used by focusing on quality of local provision. The board will work closely with the London Skills Council, which provides ESOL funding through the Government’s adult learning budget. The board wants to ensure that ESOL is distributed throughout the capital, particularly in areas of high demand such as Tower Hamlets where budget cuts have caused concern over provision.

LMO/ Expatica