Two students in their workplace with their manager and teacher

About the ESOL Programme

The Bell Foundation has launched a new pilot programme to improve outcomes for adults and young people who use English as a second or additional language.

The ESOL Programme

In the last census it was reported that over 850,000 people in the UK “do not speak English well or at all” (ONS Census 2011) and this holds many people back from accessing employment, educational or social opportunities. It is estimated that £3 of social value is created for every £1 invested in ESOL teaching. (Demos, 2011).

Early research from the Learning and Work Institute has shown that young people are among the groups most at risk of economic exclusion as a result of the pandemic. Young people and migrants with low levels of proficiency in English could face additional barriers and be more at risk of exploitation or not going into employment. The Foundation’s new ESOL Programme seeks to find out what the levels of need are for ESOL learning among young people and migrants.

The Bell Foundation has commissioned the Institute of Education to conduct a literature review to understand gaps in evidence, and to conduct extensive quantitative analysis of the retention and attainment of young people (16-25) with ESOL needs in college and post-compulsory educational environments. The literature review will be published at the end of October 2020.

The ESOL Programme seeks to address the gaps in this evidence by trialling and evaluating new ways to teach ESOL to young people and migrant workers in collaboration with partners.

ESOL Programme Objectives

The Foundation is looking to build partnerships to pilot and evaluate new approaches to ESOL learning. Specifically, projects aim to address one or multiple elements of the following:

  • Enable ESOL learners to access further education or employment opportunities either simultaneously or consecutively
  • Increase participation in ESOL learning for hard-to-reach groups
  • Increase progression from lower to higher level ESOL
  • Improve numbers of learners who remain in ESOL classes
  • Understand how to use different approaches, such as digital, effectively in teaching ESOL, considering the Covid-19 pandemic


The projects and partnerships developed in the programme will provide support to teachers, teacher educators, local authorities, charities and education providers to improve ESOL teaching and additional services that enable learners to fulfil their potential.

To find out more about partnerships with The Bell Foundation, please visit the ESOL Programme Partnerships page.

Woman using a digital tablet

Our partners

Looking for something else?

The ESOL Programme seeks to enable young people and migrant workers to develop their English language skills as a means to achieving their social, educational and/or employment goals.