In this submission on January 2022, The Bell Foundation elaborated on the strengths and weaknesses of the current system of post-16 qualifications. We provided recommendations to address the lack of data, suitability of alternatives to ESOL, education and employment outcomes for young people who use English as a Second Language, progression through ESOL levels which lead to employment, requirements for English language qualifications in post-16 education, funding of ESOL, and access to information, advice and guidance.
We recommended that the Department of Education:
- Introduces a mechanism for ensuring that an EAL marker is collected for students on the NPD beyond compulsory education and that marker is transferred across to ILRs, where appropriate, for the purposes of recording the education and employment outcomes of young people who speak languages other than English.
- Ensures that funding models mean colleges are not disincentivised from offering ESOL provision, over free and affordable Functional Skills English.
- Collaborates with colleges to develop, trial and conduct a robust evaluation of ESOL embedded within apprenticeships or T Levels to understand whether this improves accessibility, and education and employment outcomes for young people who speak languages other than English.
- Considers removing the English qualification requirement from apprenticeships to bring them in line with T Levels and to ensure that young people who use ESL are not disincentivised from taking an apprenticeship.
- Considers extending eligibility criteria for the Lifetime Skills Guarantee to allow for young people to have the funds to progress through ESOL levels and achieve a proficiency in English for employment.
- Considers funding options which allow providers to offer free ESOL to all learners, including levels 1 and 2 with proper independent advice and guidance to learners on the need for and benefits of higher-level language skills.