New Lib Dem policy on learning to communicate in English agreed

WERA Speaking

We are delighted that our policy motion “Learning to Communicate in English” was agreed at conference. This motion recognises the difficulties experienced by asylum seekers in developing an understanding of both written and spoken English, and calls upon the government to develop an “English for Speakers of Other Languages” (ESOL) strategy for England similar to that in the devolved administrations with funding provided. It recognises that being able to communicate in English is one of the crucial elements in enabling asylum seekers and others now residing in the UK to contribute to the local community and ultimately gain employment, as so many express the strong desire to do. ESOL teaching is best done locally and it calls for local authorities to have key responsibilities in the delivery of such strategies. It was moved by Wera Hobhouse MP, (pictured) in her first speech as MP. You can see the whole debate here, and it starts 37 minutes in. Wera started by quoting the preamble to our constitution, saying how the motion was fulfilling just that, and how important it was to put into practice what we stand for, and how important it was for all to be able to take part in our community. Layla Moran MP spoke on her amendment about the shameful blight of Campsfield Immigration Detention Centre, and how badly those detained needed to be able to express themselves. She pointed out how schools were where issues were first identified, and the Local Authority needs the resources to help. As well as others, LD4SOS members spoke up in the debate. Suzanne Fletcher spoke on local experiences of the desperation of new asylum seekers to be able to speak and understand English, and Maureen Rigg On how teaching English is not about targets but learning to live in the UK. Margot Wilson spoke on the wide range of provision needed, including the provision of crèches for mothers with small children. Jonathan Brown spoke of his experiences with Syrian refugees and their wish to learn, and integrate – but pointed out that integration was about more than fitting in, it was about having a say on their own future

voting on the motion

voting on the motion

Nobody spoke or voted against the motion, giving our party a clear policy on this important issue. We all need to keep on campaigning on the issue until those with the power to do so adopt what is asked for here