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The ESOL Advice Service Annual Report is a research document which presents statistical information on the demographic profile of ESOL learners in Hackney, their needs, interests, aspirations and barriers to learning. It is shared with all known ESOL providers, local and national organisations, as well as research bodies, highlighting the demand for ESOL in specific areas and in particular communities, in order to assist ESOL funders and providers with evidence-based planning. The report is one of the key functions of the ESOL Advice Service, a particular model of ESOL advice being developed for the borough.  You can find out more about the model here.

Comments and suggestions are most welcome.

Khadijah Amani
ESOL Advice Service Manager
Hackney ESOL Advice Service (EAS)


We would like to thank the HLT-ESOL department, ELATT, City and Hackney Mind, and Hackney Community College for contributing staff to help us to collect the data displayed in this report; Patricia McDaid for her data-entry work; Gareth Jones for creating and maintaining the ESOL Advice Service [EAS] database; Steven Bray for designing the EAS webpage and this report; reception staff and centre managers at Homerton Library, Hackney Learning Trust, Linden Children’s Centre, Woodberry Down Children's Centre and Comet Nursery and Children’s Centre for hosting regular ESOL advice sessions; our ESOL provider partners for keeping us informed of spaces in classes; and finally, the large number of organisations and individuals who have supported learners to access the service.

Hackney Learning Trust is a department within the Hackney Council’s Children & Young People’s Service. The department is responsible for education in Hackney, from early years to adult education.

Adult Learning Services

The Trust’s Adult Learning Services team offers learners, aged 19 and above, an Information, Advice and Guidance (IAG) Service, English (literacy), Maths, ESOL, ICT and Family Learning courses, vocational training and a wide range of informal courses, including taster sessions. The Hackney ESOL Advice Service (EAS) also falls within its remit, as a specialist, borough-wide assessment, advice and data service.

English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) courses cater for learners who are settled, or soon to be settled in the UK. They are provided by a variety of organisations, in the voluntary, state and private sectors, and take place in a large number of settings including children’s centres, schools, places of worship, libraries and museums. Courses often include Citizenship material, and run over the duration of one academic year, although termly courses are also common. Levels progress as follows: Entry Level 1 (E1), Entry Level 2 (E2), Entry Level 3 (E3), Level 1 (L1) and Level 2 (L2). Courses can be informal or accredited, depending on funding requirements, and are run by both qualified and unqualified teachers, in paid or voluntary positions, depending on the type of organisation hosting them. For further detail on the competencies expected by the end of each level, please refer to Appendix 2.

Addition 3: Concentration of residents declaring that they speak ‘no English at all’

Concentration of residents declaring that they speak ‘no English at 


Addition 4: Hackney Population (Age 16+) Proficiency in English (Census 2011 data)

Response to Census question Count % Count %
Main language is English

146,496 75%


72,984 50%


73,512 50%
Main language is not English:
Can speak English very well or well
36,420 19%


18,124 50%


18,296 50%
Main language is not English:
Cannot speak English well
10,341 5%


4,447 43%


5,894 57%
Main language is not English:
Cannot speak English
1,888 1%


622 33%


1266 67%

The Hackney ESOL Working Party, formed in 2009, is a forum for ESOL providers and stakeholders in Hackney to discuss key issues affecting ESOL learners. The group aims to work collaboratively to avoid duplication of provision, and offer progression routes, from one level to the next, across the borough. Members meet termly and sessions are attended by a range of organisations, including the Job Centre Plus, Hackney Children’s Centres, Hackney Council’s Head of Policy, and others with a special interest in ESOL. Topics for the termly meetings include ESOL qualifications, various legal reforms affecting ESOL learners, and joint funding bids. A successful joint funding bid for the Migration Impact Fund in 2009 led to additional ESOL provision, and the creation of the Hackney ESOL Advice Service.

Key functions of the ESOL Advice Service

Key functions of the ESOL Advice Service

  • Assessment and placement of ESOL learners (not just SFA-eligible) into suitable courses.
  • Recruitment of behalf of all known (not just SFA-funded) ESOL providers in Hackney.
  • Data and research into areas of unmet need and impact of ESOL.

The Hackney ESOL Advice Service (EAS) was launched in 2010, as part of a pilot beginning the previous academic year. The funding for the service ran for one academic year, after which it was absorbed into mainstream Adult Learning funding in 2011. The fundamental aim of the service has remained static throughout this time: to directly and indirectly assist potential ESOL learners into suitable ESOL provision.In addition, where this is not possible, as it often is due to shortages in available provision, it aims to identify gaps and work with ESOL providers and other interested parties to fill them. It does this by offering learners access to free assessment and advice sessions, held weekly in a variety of community venues, and keeping them informed of relevant options available.

For those who are not confident about attending a session at an unfamiliar venue, and need more support with the process, on-site advice sessions, at their local school, children’s or community centre, are offered through partnership work with community organisations.

In order to cater for the learners registering with the Hackney EAS, the service simultaneously develops and maintains partnerships with a range of ESOL providers across the borough, in order to increase the number of options available to learners, as well as to reduce the number of providers they must approach individually to find a suitable ESOL class. The partnerships reduce the need for multiple assessments, as completed initial assessment forms are shared with the relevant ESOL provider, and only learners found to be eligible under the particular funding stream, and at the appropriate level for the programme advertising vacancies, are forwarded to the centre.

The system also ensures as far as possible, classes run at full capacity, and there is less need for individual publicity of courses, which is of benefit to providers. These reciprocal relationships between the Hackney EAS and ESOL providers in Hackney have increased since the service’s inception, and many are now firmly established.

Finally, in line with the stated aim, information collected during assessment and advice sessions is entered onto a bespoke database, which is then used to produce statistics on areas of unmet need. The data are periodically shared with ESOL providers and policy makers in the borough, offering them the opportunity to provide courses based on evidence of need. This results in an increase in the number of suitable courses available to learners, which in turn impacts positively on providers’ recruitment and retention figures.

Additionally, the Hackney EAS produces statistics on demand to other stakeholders such as Hackney’s schools and children’s centres, ESOL providers outside of the borough and national bodies and campaigns.

Please watch the short Hackney ESOL Advice Service Video for a full understanding of the model.

2009-2010 (Pilot)

  • Marta Paluch begins in role of HLT ESOL Curriculum Manager.
  • Collaboratively forms the ESOL Working Party (EWP)
  • EWP bid - Migrant Impact Fund (MIF)
  • MIF bid successful
  • 3 weekly advice sessions scheduled
  • Fill HLT-ESOL vacancies
  • ESOL Directory of ESOL providers in Hackney published
  • MS Excel ESOL Database - no outcomes


  • Part-time Advice Co-ordinator employed (3 days a week, 1 year contract) - MIF
  • On-site advice service launched
  • Sign-posting to other providers using ESOL Directory
  • MS Access database with outcomes created
  • ESOL Advice Report (EAR) Launch 2010-11


  • Advice Co-ordinator role becomes permanent (absorbed into ALS)
  • Hackney EAS IA form accepted by partners (inter-borough)
  • Fill HLT-ESOL & Partner vacancies (inter- borough)
  • Statistics for local and national organisations and campaigns
  • Out Of Borough ESOL sign-post packs


  • 4 weekly and 2 monthly advice sessions (including evenings)
  • Additional teacher for 1 advice session funded (one year only)
  • Dedicated data-entry person secured (9 hours per week, from MIS team)


  • Consolidate service under new (temporary) management
  • Green Text (mass text messaging system) introduced
  • Fill HLT-ESOL and partner vacancies in Hackney, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest


  • Census data on English language skills for targeted publicity
  • EAS transferred from HLT-ESOL department to IAG Team
  • EAS Coordinator post deleted. Replaced with EAS Manager.
  • Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) for all regular advice venues
  • EAS Database upgraded to allow for multiple years (tracking)


  • Achieved Matrix standard
  • Targeted work in north Hackney using CENSUS data on English language skills
  • Adhoc advice support from additional ESOL provider
  • Produced the Hackney ESOL Advice Service Model Video

Future goals

  • Hackney-wide ESOL database of learners for research into unmet need
  • Specifically allocated budget for the Hackney EAS
  • Funding for an advisor
  • Full-time administrative support
ESOL Advice Service leaflet 2015-16

1) Potential ESOL learners are made aware of ESOL advice sessions via a range of marketing strategies, including flyers and posters at children's centres, places of worship and libraries. Staff at schools and children's centres, and professionals at other organisations, including the Jobcentre Plus, GP surgeries and Homerton Hospital, are also regularly reminded of the service via a mailing list, and encouraged to sign-post learners to the service.

2) Learners are able to register by attending a regular advice session, or where organisations have a group of learners who are more comfortable in a familiar setting, at an on-site advice session. At an advice session, learners’ speaking, listening, reading and writing levels are tested by a qualified ESOL tutor, against criteria set out in the National Adult ESOL Core Curriculum. Other relevant information, such as their short and long-term aims and aspirations, immigration and income status, is also collected on an Initial Assessment Form (see Appendix 1).

If there are spaces in a suitable class, learners are placed directly into the class at the advice session, and given a letter containing the details of the course and a map, or a text message with the necessary information.

If there are no suitable spaces available, the learner is given a waiting list letter confirming their levels, and told they will be contacted as soon as a vacancy arises in an appropriate course.

3) The initial assessment form is logged on the EAS database, and if the learner was not placed immediately, the record is retrieved as soon as a vacancy arises on a course which is likely to suit them. The learner is informed of the vacancy, and if interested, provided with registration details either in writing, by text message or via a phone call

In 2015-16, the ESOL advice service ran a total of six regular ESOL Advice sessions across the borough, including an evening advice session for learners with day time commitments.

Regular ESOL Advice Sessions and Indicies of Deprivation (October 2015 release)

Regular ESOL Advice Sessions and Indicies of Deprivation (October 2015 release)

In addition, the service ran a total of 18 on-site ESOL advice sessions in cooperation with community organisations, including Hackney Refuge, the Abkhaz-Adhigha community organisation, Ways into Work, primary schools, children's centres, a library and a housing association.

This year, for the first time, the report is being published as a working document, online only, with the following aims:

1) We would like feedback from ESOL providers and other interested parties on what information they would like to see in the report which would make it more useful for them in the funding, planning and delivery of ESOL provision. The requested item/s or clarifications will either be uploaded online, and/or be included in the next ESOL annual report. On the right you will find a comments box in which to make these requests.

2) The data on placement and registrations is being analysed in a different way as of this year, following the transfer of the ESOL Advice Service from within the HLT-ESOL team to a department of its own in May 2015. The data from previous years on learners registered and placed are being re-analysed, so that accurate comparisons can be drawn. This process will take place over the next few months, and the information will be uploaded as it becomes available. See the Data tab for information on changes.

3) We are exploring ways to more easily compare data between years to identify trends. An online version is more conducive to this aim. For the present time, for those interested in comparisons, pdf versions of the previous annual reports are available here.

4) We have produced an animated video on the unique model of ESOL advice offered by the ESOL Advice Service in Hackney; it is more easily shared online.

We hope these changes will render the EAS annual report more useful to ESOL providers and stakeholders and provide a more accurate picture of ESOL in Hackney. We also hope the animated video will highlight the advantages of the model for learners, providers and funders, and encourage other boroughs to create similar systems or hubs. We are also keen to learn from other models which are already established.


The information collected during advice sessions is recorded on an IA form (see Appendix 1), which is then logged on the EAS database. The data are analysed on a regular basis; including the scoping process, when learners interests and hobbies are used to consider embedded ESOL options by providers, and most significantly, the analysis of waiting lists. Information on waiting lists is shared with ESOL providers during the planning stage of each academic year’s delivery. In addition, data on demand and areas of unmet need are shared via the Hackney ESOL Working Party mailing list on a termly basis.

One final and more comprehensive analysis of all of the data is carried out for this report, which aims to provide interested parties with information on the demographic profile of ESOL learners within the borough, their prior education, skills, needs, goals and the barriers they faced or continue to face in accessing a suitable ESOL course.

Source of Initial Assessment Records
Number of learners registered directly at an ESOL Advice Session in 2015-16
Number of IA forms for learners assessed by ESOL providers (not at EAS advice sessions) and referred to the EAS for placement
Number of IA forms for learners assessed and enrolled by ESOL providers (not at EAS advice sessions)
Total number on EAS Database 15-16 1254
No longer interested in ESOL (excluded) -33
Not ESOL (excluded) -10
Under 19 years old (excluded) -1
Total records in sample for analysis 1210

The information in this report comes from 1210 Initial Assessment (IA) forms of placed and potential ESOL learners.

These forms have three sources:

1) ESOL advice sessions, both regular, adhoc and on-site sessions. These sessions are staffed by staff from ESOL providers on a regular or adhoc basis, and also, the ESOL Advice Service manager.

Prior to 2015-16, when the EAS was situated and managed within the HLT-ESOL department, the distinction between regular advice session learners and HLT-ESOL enrolment learners was not drawn. A distinction has only been made for 2015-16 on the chart below as a result.

2) ESOL providers and (qualified) ESOL teachers, who would like to refer learners they cannot cater for, for immigration, income status, crèche or other reasons, complete and submit initial assessment forms for these learners. These learners are then placed on the EAS waiting list. The providers do not submit IA forms for other learners, only those learners they would like added to the waiting list.

The figure in the table does not include learners who are sign-posted by ESOL providers without a full  initial assessment to EAS advice sessions.

3) HLT-ESOL and ESOL providers who are commissioned by the HLT-ESOL department to run ESOL classes, are required to complete and submit IA forms for all enrolled learners. These forms are largely submitted after September enrolment sessions, and are logged on the EAS database. Apart from HLT-ESOL, ESOL providers do not share IA forms for learners not placed in classes commissioned by HLT-ESOL.

The EAS invites learners to the enrolment sessions of ESOL providers in August or September each year. In August and September 2015, approximately 300 learners, who had registered in 14-15, but were not placed (see annual report 14-15 for reasons), were invited to the enrolment sessions held across the borough. Of these, at least 93 learners attended. The data are incomplete due to the EAS only having access to the IA records of one of the providers.

The data from the three sources above are combined to increase the sample size for analysis, in order to generate a more representative profile of ESOL learners in Hackney.

Figure 1: Number of learner records since 2009-10

Number of learner records since 2009-10

For ease of comparison, the data in the pages which follow have been presented in the format of previous reports and there have been no changes in the preparation and analysis of the data, except in the Outcomes and Waiting Listing section, where only the records of learners who were directly registered or referred to the ESOL Advice Service by an ESOL provider for placement (926 learners), have been used in analysis.

Calculations, unless otherwise stated, include the entire ESOL learner sample, including unspecified values.

Where word clouds have been used to display data, ‘none given’ or ‘unspecified’ entries have been excluded.

The relative size of words correspond to the number of times the option was selected by the learners overall, and an individual learner may have given one or more responses.

Quotes from learners have not been edited for mistakes, unless comprehension was impeded.

Figure 2: Region of origin

Region of Origin

Figure 3: Top six countries of origin

Top six countries of origin

Figure 4: Nationality


Figure 5: Top six countries of nationality

Top six countries of nationality

Addition 2: British Nationals - Region of origin

British Nationals - Region of origin

Figure 6: British Nationals - Countries of origin

British nationality - Countries of origin

Figure 7: British Nationals - Other countries of residence (non-UK)

British nationality - Other countries of residence (non-UK)

Addition 1: EU Nationals - Region of origin

EU Nationals - Region of origin

Figure 8: EU Nationals - Countries of origin

EU nationals - Countries of origin

Figure 9: EU Nationals - Other countries of residence (non-EU)

EU nationals - Other countries of residence (non-EU)

Figure 10: First Languages

First Languages

Figure 11: British Nationals - First languages

British nationality - First languages

Figure 12: EU Nationals - First languages

EU nationals - First languages

Figure 13: Additional Languages, not including English or first language?

Additional Languages, not including English or first language?

Figure 14: Additional Languages

Additional Languages

Figure 15: Languages spoken in Hackney

Languages spoken in Hackney

Figure 16: Gender


Figure 17: Region by Gender - Male

Region by Gender - Male

Figure 18: Region by Gender - Female

Region by Gender - Female

Figure 19: Gender split by region

Gender split by region

Figure 20: Age Bands

Age Bands

Figure 21: Gender and age

Gender and age

Figure 22: Gender split by age

Gender split by age

The information in this section is reported to ESOL providers during their scoping process, so that opportunities to have ESOL Embedded options which reflect learners' interests can be explored.

Figure 23: Hobbies and Interests

Hobbies and Interests

Figure 24: Embedded ESOL

Embedded ESOL

Figure 25: Level of schooling

Level of schooling

Figure 26: Schooling in regions

Schooling in regions

Figure 27: Schooling in top six countries of origin

Schooling in top six countries of origin

Addition 5: Post-Secondary Education Course Titles

Post Secondary Education Course Titles

Figure 28: Health problems

Health problems

Figure 29: Mental health problems

Mental health problems

Figure 30: Disabilities


Figure 31: Immigration Status

Immigration Status

Figure 32: Refugees and their families and Asylum Seekers

Refugees and their families and Asylum Seekers

Figure 33: Origin of Refugees and Asylum Seekers

Country of origin
China (including Hong Kong)
Democratic Republic of Congo
Total number of refugees: 13
Total number of asylum seekers: 6

Figure 34: Employment Status

Employment Status

Figure 35: Reasons for not working

Reasons for not working

Figure 36: Work Experience

Work Experience

Figure 37: Receiving income-based benefits?
Figure 38: Benefits? Yes - Receiving Jobseeker’s Allowance or Employment Support Allowance?
Receiving income-based benefits? and Benefits? Yes - Receiving Jobseeker's Allowance or Employment Support Allowance?

Figure 39: No benefits - Low income?
Figure 40: National Insurance Number?
No benefits - Low income? and National Insurance Number?

Figure 41: Distribution of residence in Hackney clusters and Census data showing concentration of those who 'do not speak English at all'

Distribution of residence in Hackney clusters and Census data showing concentration of those who 'do not speak English at all'

Figure 42: Term of registration

Term of registration

Figure 43: Time in the UK

Time in the UK

Figure 44: Time in the UK by level of English (Speaking)

Time in the UK by level of English (Speaking)

Figure 45: Previous ESOL qualifications?

Previous ESOL qualifications?

Figure 46: ESOL qualifications already attained

ESOL qualifications already attained

Figure 47: Time in UK - No qualifications

Time in UK - No qualifications

Figure 48: Time in UK - No ESOL course experience

Time in UK - No ESOL course experience

Figure 49: ESOL levels

ESOL levels

Figure 50: ESOL levels: Detailed

ESOL levels: Detailed

Figure 51: Levels by Gender

Levels by Gender

Figure 52: Levels by Cluster

Levels by Cluster

Figure 53: Literacy needs
Figure 54: Literate in first or other languages?

Literacy needs and Literate in first or other languages?

Figure 55: Literacy in English and schooling in home country

Literacy in English and schooling in home country


Figure 56a: Reasons for learning English, where given

Reasons for learning English, where given

Figure 56b: Reasons for learning English

Reasons for learning English

Figure 57: Other reasons for learning English

Other reasons for learning English

Figure 58: Travel preferences

Travel preferences

Figure 59: Women only classes?
Figure 60: No Fridays?

Women only classes? and No Fridays?

Figure 61: Parent?


Figure 62a: At least one child under 5?
Figure 62b: Proportion of learners with children under 5 by cluster

At least one child under 5? and Proportion of learners with children under 5 by cluster

Figure 63: At least one child aged 5-10 years?
Figure 64: At least one child aged 11-18 years?

At least one child aged 5-10 years? and At least one child aged 11-18 years?

Figure 65a: Crèche needs?
Figure 65b:Creche needs as a proportion per cluster

Crèche needs? and Creche needs as a proportion per cluster

Figure 66: Barriers to starting an ESOL class, for learners with no experience of ESOL

Barriers to starting an ESOL class, for learners with no experience of ESOL

Figure 67: Barriers to continuing their ESOL learning for learners who had previously attended a class but who had taken a break in learning

Barriers to continuing their ESOL learning for learners who had previously attended a class but who had taken a break in learning

Figure 68: Referral Routes

Referral Routes

Figure 69: Outcomes - placed in a class within academic year?

Outcomes - placed in a class within academic year?

Figure 70: Not placed. Course(s) offered?

Not placed. Course(s) offered?

Figure 71: Placement turned down

Placement turned down

The following section analyses the profiles of learners who registered with the EAS in 2015-16, but had not been placed by the end of the academic year.

Figure 72: Term of registration - Waiting list vs Placed learners

Term of registration - Waiting list vs Placed learners

Figure 73: Low income - Waiting list vs Placed learners

Low income - Waiting list vs Placed learners

Figure 74: Creche needs - Waiting list vs Placed learners

Creche needs - Waiting list vs Placed learners

Figure 75: Waiting List Levels and Location

Waiting List Levels and Location

The profile of all learners who were still waiting for a class in July 2016 (343 learners), was compared to the profile of learners who had attended an EAS advice session and those assessed and referred by a partner (541 learners in total). We excluded learners who were otherwise included in the analysis, to control for entry routes.  Differences did not exceed 5% for any of the features between the groups, except for the following:

1) Learners who were not on benefits or on low income (less than £16,190 per year, before tax) made up a greater proportion of the waiting cohort than the placed; 42% compared to 18%.

2) Entry 1 (E1) learners made up a greater proportion of the waiting list group; 49% compared to 38%. When broken down into A, which refers to learners who have emerging skills at the given level, and B, which denotes established skills or exam readiness, E1B learners were found to be numerous on the waiting list than in the placed group; 24% compared to 16%.

3) 22% of waiting list learners registered in Term 1 of the academic year compared to 64% of placed learners, and 51% of waiting list learners had registered for ESOL in Term 3, compared to 9% of placed learners. Similar numbers of placed and waiting list learners registered in Term 2 (25% and 24% respectively.

4) Learners who had been placed and had crèche needs as a whole, made up a greater proportion of their respective cohorts than learners who were still waiting. In cluster B, 42% of learners needed crèche, as proportion of all of the learners resident in that cluster, compared to 25% of learners who were waiting. This reflects the priority given to learners with crèche needs during placements at all levels, where possible. The opposite was true for learners who were residents of other boroughs; 3% of those with crèche needs were placed in a class, compared to 13% who were still waiting; most provision with crèche restrict access to residents of the borough.


In 2015-16, a good deal of provision and specialist provision existed in the borough, for example, ESOL for learners with Spouse/Partner Visas, at Entry Level 3 (E3), irrespective of income-based benefit status, and provision for newly arrived Asylum Seekers, including those without access to Section 4 or 21 Support. However, often these classes were not located near learners’ homes or at central locations, which allowed for them to travel to learn and return in time for other commitments, such as school pickup and work schedules. For those without such commitments, despite being willing to travel, the associated travel costs were an inhibiting factor. In the year under review, only a single course included travel costs.


Learners who were not receiving benefits, and earned above £16,190 a year, before tax. These learners were offered fee-paying provision, but did not take up the offers. Costs of classes at the primary referral partner for fee-paying students were in the region of £300-£1000 (dependent on hours) for an academic year. A 50% fee remission was offered to those who could prove high out-goings and learners were able to pay in instalments. A small number of learners felt able to take up these offers, however, the majority were unable to pay. Crèche was not offered as part of these courses.


Due to excellent working partnerships between a particular, and large, ESOL provider and Children’s Centres, a good proportion of ESOL provision in 15-16 had crèche allocated at no additional cost for the provider. This allowed for a major barrier to be lifted for a significant proportion of learners (see Creche Needs chart). Learners who were still disadvantaged were those who had babies under 6 months of age. Learners with crèche needs were prioritised for all courses with crèche allocated, to ensure the provision was fully utilised. Learners who were unable to access courses at this particular provider for reasons related to income or immigration status (not including Spouse/Partner Visa holders, at E3, who could access specialist provision with childcare elsewhere), continued to be affected by this barrier.

This year, 1254 learners were registered on the EAS Database. 926 learners registered with the service directly. A total of 1210 ESOL learner records were analysed; the majority of ESOL learners were female, 19-49 years old, literate in at least one language (excluding English), parents, from Turkey, South Asia or Africa and unemployed. Where reasons were given, the majority enjoyed reading, watching television, cooking and sports; wanted to learn to deal with everyday life, to secure employment and/or to help their child at school. The majority of learners had no previous qualifications in ESOL at the time of registration, and were assessed at ESOL E1 or E2. Almost half spoke an additional language, not including their first or English, and had British or EU Nationality. Just under half of all EU Nationals originated from a country outside of the European Union. Of those learners who had had work experience, the largest group were or had been cleaners.

Where reasons were given, learners cited being new to the country and looking after children as barriers for not having engaged in an ESOL course previously. For those who had attended a course before, not being offered a progression route once their course had ended was the most oft-cited barrier to learning, highlighting the importance of collaborative ESOL planning between ESOL providers in Hackney. This barrier was following by pregnancy.

Of the learners who continued to be interested in joining an ESOL class within the academic year, by July 2016, 65% had definitely been placed in an ESOL class. 60% of the remaining learners were offered a class within the academic year, but did not or were not able to take up the offer (see word cloud below). Options offered included ESOL E1 to L2, ESOL with Local History (E3) and ESOL with Childcare (E3). Embedded options were limited compared to previous years.

Of those who were not offered a class, 91% registered in Term 3 of the Academic year (April-June 2016), when most ESOL providers cease enrolling new learners. The date of registration for the remaining learners had not been specified by advisors. Most learners wanted to join a class immediately, indicating there may be demand for summer classes amongst learners who do not have childcare needs, which run outside of the traditional school term.

By September 2016, all of the waiting list learners had been offered enrolment appointments at ESOL providers in Hackney. Placement for those who attended, was high, although it is not possible to provide a figure, owing to only a few providers and learners responding to attendance information requests.

Figure 76: Reasons offer rejected - waiting list only

Reasons offer rejected - waiting list only

In the word cloud above, learners who wanted to begin a class in the following academic year, have been excluded, and reasons have only been included where they were given.

Of all learners accessing the EAS directly, and excluding learners who wanted to start a class the following academic year and also, those for whom a date of registration and or placement was not provided, the average waiting time in 2015-16 was 76 days. The sample includes 774 learners and assumes those waiting at the end of July 2016, joined a class in September 2016 (30 days reduced for the summer break for these learners). Some learners waited much longer for a class.

Key factors affecting placement

This section should be read in conjunction Areas of Unmet Need.

Location: A wider range of community-based ESOL provision would overcome barriers faced by learners who are unable to travel outside of their locality for a class, due to work and childcare commitments, travel costs or being generally unfamiliar with other areas. Evidence-based planning, which takes into consideration the location of learners would improve the enrolment, attendance and retention of learners, of benefit to ESOL learners and providers. Furthermore, specialist classes, including ESOL for New Reader Writers (NRW), ESOL with Childcare, ESOL for people who are able to pay, and L1 and L2 courses, ESOL for Spouses, all of which are relatively limited in the borough, should be located centrally, in order to allow for the largest number of learners to gain access to them.

Term of registration: Learners who registered in Term 1 made up the largest proportion of placed learners. The largest number of vacancies from all providers are announced in Term 1 of each year. Ensuring advice sessions are properly staffed, so all learners who attend are assessed and registered, will allow for a greater number of learners to be placed in classes. Registering at the begin of the academic year also improves the overall learner experience, as they are not required to catch up with work already covered and have enough time to prepare for exams, if any.

However, it should be recognised that learners often need to take necessary breaks in their learning, due to reasons including relocation, ill-health and pregnancy, and providers which enrol throughout the academic year are in a position to help prevent learners from developing large gaps in their learning. Anecdotally, learners who return having taken a break of a year or more, often cite their own deterioration on English language skills due to the gap.

Income Status: Learners who were in receipt of income-based benefits or a low income (£16,190 per year, before tax) made up a lower proportion of learners who were waiting for a class by the end of the year. Learners who were not claiming income-based benefits and earning above the low income threshold were far less likely to be offered a free class, and most did not feel they could afford to pay.

Skills at Entry 1 (E1): Learners at E1 made up the largest group of waiting list learners. This reflects both the limited availability of ESOL E1 provision in the borough (only 54% were offered a course), but also, the greater support learners at this level need in order to access a course. Anecdotally, learners at E1 were less likely than learners at higher levels, to be willing to travel outside of their locality for a class. A number of Talk English and English My Way classes were available in the borough for E1 learners, however, they mainly attracted learners who were local to the centres - central, south and south-east only.

Creche Needs: Learners with crèche needs, and who are SFA-eligible and in receipt of income-based benefits or a low income, are able to access ESOL with crèche allocated. This is due to a large provider's excellent partnerships with children's centres. Similar partnerships developed, or funding for childcare secured by a wider range of providers, particularly those with more flexible funding streams, which cater for other than SFA-eligible learners, would improve access for learners who do not fit the profile above and need crèche to access a class.

Waiting times: Anecdotal evidence suggests learners who were placed on a waiting list for a period of time, became much less likely to respond to offers of a class once they were waiting for a period of time, particularly emerging learners at E1. Immediate placements at advice, when learners were most keen, and could be supported most, were the most successful in terms of enrolment. Immediate placement is dependent on the range, location and availability of classes, which continues to fall short of demand. The average waiting time for 2015-16 was 76 days.


The Skills Funding Agency’s Rules for 2016-17, increase the categories of learners who qualify for full SFA funding, in accredited provision, to include learners who are employed in low-paid work (below £500 per month) and receiving income-based benefits. The definition of income-based benefits includes the full range of available benefits, including Child Benefit. Non-accredited (previously Community Learning) provision continues to be fully-funded for all learners who are not otherwise excluded due to their immigration status. How these Rules are interpreted, and whether the distinctions will be made in the recruitment process by individual ESOL providers nonetheless, remains to be seen.

Immigration Act 2016

The Immigration Act 2016 placed a new duty on public authorities to ensure their customer-facing employees have “a command of spoken English [or Welsh] which is sufficient to enable the effective performance of the person’s role” (HM Government, 2016). The level considered “sufficient” is defined as at or above CEFR B1 (Entry 3), in line with the most recent language requirements for Settlement and Citizenship. The government’s code of practice encourages public authorities to consider “providing training or re-training to support their staff to meet the requirements of the fluency duty... and where appropriate... meet the cost of training and enable members of staff to undertake training during their working hours” (HM Government, 2016). A complaints procedure, which allows for customers to report staff and the authority for non-compliance was also introduced when the duty came into force on 21 November 2016.

At the end of 2015-16, a handful of private hire taxi drivers, prompted by a notice from Transport for London, approached the service for English classes which would allow for them to meet the requirement by the license renewal deadline. A number of these learners were assessed at Entry 1 (E1), so could not be placed in an E3 class. At the time of writing (January 2017), only one course, specifically for drivers required to fulfil the requirement, was known of, in Tower Hamlets. It remains to be seen whether public authorities will allocate funding for in-house English language training, as suggested, or refer learners to existing ESOL provision.


On 23 June 2016, the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union by referendum. The withdrawal is currently being negotiated, as are the rights of European Nationals in the United Kingdom. There were no changes announced in the Skills Funding Agency’s Rules for 2016-17, and EU Nationals and their dependents are able to access ESOL provision on par with their British counterparts. It is yet uncertain how the impending withdrawal will impact on European Funding for adult education and the availability of ESOL overall.

Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme

In 2015, the government pledged to resettle 20,000 Syrian asylum seekers in the next five years. The government's guide for local authorities includes ESOL in the support package and confirms funding for up to five years. It also sets a target of 30 days by which point Refugees should be accessing an ESOL class. The refugees will be granted Humanitarian Protection as opposed Refugee Status. In the year under review, there were no learners with Humanitarian Protection on the EAS database, or Refugees from Syria. There were equal numbers of Refugees on the waiting list at the end of 2015-16 and those placed. It is hoped special funding will allow for these learners to be placed, and more quickly. A dedicated support worker is likely to increase the likelihood of placement for learners who are more emerging in their English language skills. Separate funding will also increase the number of spaces for all ESOL learners who would otherwise be waiting. Of the total of six asylum seekers who registered directly with the EAS, five were placed in a class.

The EAS included all of Hackney’s places of worship in the 2015-16 publicity mailing list. Positive feedback was received from recipients, and a number of requests for on-site ESOL advice, with the potential for hosting an ESOL class were received. EAS introductions to one of the service’s partner ESOL providers resulted in two new ESOL class being scheduled for 2016-17 at E1. Any impact on the proportion of learners who are Refugees and Asylum Seekers, and whether places of worship are an effective route to raise awareness, will be clearer in the annual review of 2016-17.

ESOL Strategy for England

In October 2016, the National Association of Teaching English and Community Languages to Adults (NATECLA), published a document entitled ‘Towards an ESOL Strategy for England’, following consultation with ESOL stakeholders. The strategy calls for an ESOL Strategy for England, which incorporates the funding and monitoring of ESOL at a national and local level. The main elements include:

1) ESOL to be free for all learners
2) National arrangements which allow for local demand for ESOL to be met
3) Additional costs of learning, such as travel and childcare need to be publically funded
4) Incentives to employers to support employees with their ESOL needs

The strategy recommends "local hubs for mapping and signposting learners" and "forums / partnerships of ESOL stakeholders". The report is timely, with the government's plans to devolve the Adult Education Budget (AEB), and echoes what ESOL providers in Hackney have been calling for, and trying to establish for some years.

The ESOL Advice Service Model

In 2010-11, the service listed aims. The on-going aims and a brief review of progress made has been included below.

1) All ESOL providers in the borough to provide up-to-date information on ESOL provision.

This aim continues to be met. Since its inception, the ESOL Advice Service has worked with over 30 ESOL providers in the borough. Unfortunately, not all of the providers are still in existence. Partnerships with those which have remained have developed, and recruitment requests are received weekly. This has increased the accessibility to classes for learners, who have a variety of needs and eligibility profiles, and shorter waiting times Information on vacancies is submitted in different ways which work best for the providers, however, the most effective method to date has been a fortnightly vacancy log sent directly to class teachers.

2) Data collected during initial assessment from all participating providers to be collected in one borough-wide database.

This aim has not yet been met, and relies entirely on the willingness of ESOL providers to share data with the service. One of the largest barriers encountered for even those providers who would otherwise consider the proposal, is most providers do not log the information collected on initial assessment forms, due to lack of funds and/or resources. All Hackney Learning Trust and HLT-commissioned ESOL class teachers submit initial assessment forms to the EAS for logging. The teachers then have access to this data when needed.

3) Information about ESOL needs gained from analysis of the data to be disseminated to all services working with migrants and refugees.

The EAS continues to share data on waiting lists with ESOL providers, funders, and others stakeholders via the ESOL Working Party and other channels, on a termly basis. Improved presentations of the data, which more clearly illustrates the demand, as well as location, will be developed in the coming months. In addition to waiting list data, the service responded to 22 ESOL data requests, from schools, children's centres, ESOL providers and other stakeholders in 2015-16. The EAS also contributed to the NATECLA consultation on an ESOL Strategy for England, and the call for evidence from the All Party Parliamentary Group for Adult Education.

4) The planning and commissioning of ESOL provision in the borough to be informed by the evidence of needs, demonstrated by the EAS’s data

Targeted work carried out in the areas identified by the Census as most densely populated with people who spoke “no English at all”, resulted in two new ESOL E1 classes being planned for 2016-17, in the north of the borough. We would like to thank our ESOL partners for being as responsive as possible, to evidence of demand.

In the year under review, the EAS service and model was commended by Ofsted for its partnership work, and also gained the Matrix standard for advice and guidance. The service also produced a video, which more succinctly explains the particular model of ESOL Advice we are working to establish in Hackney, for the benefit of learners, providers and funding bodies. In addition, the number of providers which carry out ESOL Advice for the EAS was also increased by one, although the sessions were adhoc as opposed to regular. We will continue to work to develop these relationships over the coming year.

In 2016-17, the service will continue to offer six advice sessions, including evening advice. Due to room availability, the session at Homerton Library will be reduced to monthly instead of weekly intervals. In addition, the evening session will be relocated to Shoreditch library in the south of the borough, where all of the evening ESOL provision in Hackney is concentrated. Finally, the service will focus on developing and improving the EAS as a model, by partnering with similar models in other parts of London and the country.

Comments and suggestions on this report and the EAS are most welcome.

Khadijah Amani
January 2017

Learner Satisfaction
Feedback from community partners and awarding bodies

"We have benefited from the ESOL services provided by the Hackney ESOL Advice Service.  I work with vulnerable women who reside in supported housing and many whom have ESOL needs.  I found it difficult to arrange for all the women to have assessment at the drop in sessions that take place in Hackney as they were usually oversubscribed. I contacted the ESOL Advice Service and spoke with the ESOL Co-ordinator, Khadijah, who resolved the problem I was experiencing. She explained she would come to the hostel where the women were living and carry out assessments for the women, free of charge. We have used this service twice and it has been invaluable. Once the women are assessed they are told what level they are and that appropriate courses will be located for them.  The service prioritised these very vulnerable learners and is in regular contact with myself and other support workers, to ensure they are not required to navigate the system alone. For those women who have been lucky enough to get a place on an ESOL course. It has impacted not only on them acquiring better command of English but also on their self-esteem and confidence. Thank you from all the staff and women."
Shofna Akthar, Refuge, Hackney

"[The onsite ESOL Advice session] was a real success. I think for our families where English is not their first language they are reassured and maybe more confident coming into school (with its nurturing and friendly atmosphere). Seeing familiar faces and prior to meeting the assessor and being in familiar surroundings seem to help. We used our lovely library time at first, and it worked really well… The impact is measured in the playground where mums begin to help translate for others, become more involved in school life, for example Family Learning and other events such as Parent Consultations evening. I have a lovely story about one of our mums... more from a 'during English classes' than afterwards... A mum was assessed and offered a place at Woodberry Down Children's Centre. She was disappointed as she had wanted to take part here at GB. She was not familiar with Woodberry Down and was very reluctant to join. I offered to take her to classes in my car, which I did, and after about six weeks, she no longer met me at school, I mistakenly assumed she had dropped out, only to establish on contacting the ESOL Advice Service for an update, that she had made friends and was enjoying the course and progressing. A simple tale I know but this was a mum who could not speak English at all."
Beverly Dickenson, Extended Schools Coordinator, Grazebrook Primary School

"Local authorities should consider the good practice identified in one London borough where the local authority ran a single ESOL advice service... This minimised waiting lists for ESOL courses as colleges advised the ESOL advice service of available places and the advice service was then able to match these places with learners. The advice service had also developed a common application form for ESOL applications across the borough so there was no duplication and the process was therefore quicker and more streamlined."
Analysis of English Language Employment Support Provision in London for JSA and ESA WRAG Customers, Greater London Authority, August 2012

"Hackney’s integrated local educational authority, the Learning Trust, realised that poorly organised ESOL provision was resulting in inefficient delivery and missed learning opportunities. In response, it set up the ESOL Advice Service. Regular, free ESOL advice sessions are held across the borough, where English proficiency levels are determined and learners are connected to appropriate providers. Learners’ journeys are also tracked with a purpose-built database, and the Learning Trust uses this data to assess local need and continuously improve the effectiveness of learner–provider matches. Providers have forged partnerships with community organisations, allowing them to create courses that meet learners’ specific needs – for example people with children."
On Speaking Terms, Paget and Stevenson, p49, Demos 2014

“Staff delivering ESOL advice... are inspirational and use IAG as a platform to remove barriers and enable a pathway to social mobility... The ESOL advice service is firmly focused upon ensuring practitioners are fully briefed on changes to immigration legislation.”
Matrix Standard Assessment Report for London Borough of Hackney, Hackney Learning Trust, Adult Learning Services, November 2015