The UNISON branches at Senate House, Birkbeck and SOAS all contributed funds in the summer of 2011 to pay for English lessons aimed primarily at workers from outsourced companies who comprise porters, cleaners and caterers at the University of London. The lessons have been delivered by teachers from the IFCELS unit at SOAS and the workers attending them have been focused and hard-working. One class has already achieved the first part of a literacy certificate.
The classes have been a huge success and we are now working with UNISON Region to develop the work and to organise funding from UNISON National Office. The plan is to offer ESOL (English as a Second Language) classes to a minimum of 40 workers who will receive 30 hours tuition each and be examined at the end of the course. ESOL courses are accredited and it is nationally recognised qualification.
We hope to start the ESOL courses in April and we are busy producing publicity leaflets and spreading the word amongst the Balfour Beatty, Ocean and ISS workers both at the University of London and at other centres of higher education in the Bloomsbury area (as we will be receiving national funding, the ESOL courses are open to a wider range of workers).