In early March WWETB Adult Literacy and Language services partnered Education Scotland/Foghlam Alba for a two day visit to Glasgow, supported by Erasmus+ funding. The purpose of the visit was to share and increase knowledge, develop understanding and collate research on Adult Literacy and ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Language) practices.
The group first met with the Strategic Director, Senior Education Officer and Development Officer of Education Scotland. Education Scotland works with the ESOL and Adult Literacy sector to provide support to build capacity, and embed policy in practice through guidance, training and grant funding. There was an exchange of information on how the respective programmes were run. Michael Kirwan was one of the WWETB representatives and found the discussion very beneficial. ‘I could clearly see the pros and cons of each service. This is very helpful as it will lead to an improvement on how we do things in Ireland and hopefully, the Scots will take on the good aspectsof our system.’
Following the discussion there were visits to the Glasgow ESOL Forum in Georges Road, to the Adult Literacy Network, West Dunbartonshire Council and to Citizen Literacies at the City of Glasgow College. The next day the group attended a range of sessions, regarding the SQA (Scottish Qualifications Authority), with ALN, a local authority network of 32 local authorities across Scotland and site visits such as to Chapelside Community Centre at North Lanarkshire Council.
Mary Hamilton was one of those who visited Chapelside. ‘This was an interesting example of community learning at its best. Here we saw refugees amalgamated with other ESOL learners and there was a great sense of community support with access to creche facilities and other classes
such as art and cooking. Learners were encouraged to become active in their local community and had extra support from volunteer teachers and befrienders.’
Sara Kelly is an ESOL tutor and a member of the ESOL Assessment Project Team. Following the series of visits, she feels that there are many aspects of the Scottish ESOL certification and assessment system that can further inform the development of the provision of ESOL in Ireland.
This is especially true of the assessment procedures, as WWETB has recently started using the Scottish Initial Assessment Pack and guidelines. Also, she believes the Scottish template would make an ideal template for new ESOL modules, aligned to CEFRL, ‘that better reflect the profiles, needs and aspirations of our learners.’
Similarly, Nicola McCarthy Hanlon, whose focus was on general Adult Literacy, thought that the overall activity was a great opportunity to review another model, to look outside the box and take on board some of the Scottish approaches that have been developed. She liked some of the approaches and may include them in the Adult Literacy service, such as City Phonics, Dunbartonshire’s Individual Learning Plans and the Fair Start to Work model. ‘The Fair Start to Work model treats people with dignity and respect by providing flexible support, taking into account personal circumstances and removing barriers to accessing work...something that Adult Literacy could work with to help more adult literacy workers target specific needs to achieve employment’.
The WWETB staff found the trip very useful, educational and illuminating. Michael also commented on the links made with Scottish counterparts. ‘The personal contacts we have made are invaluable and we have a plan for closer co-operation in this area. The trip was worth it for this in itself.’
A huge thanks must go to Laura McIntosh of Education Scotland for the agenda of this trip. Also thank you to Maria Walker, Nicola Sykes,Sarah Cox, Jo Jarvis, Ann Morgan-Thomas, Angela Doyle, Diane Gardner, Waheeda Afzal, Sarah McEwan, Nicola Barlow, Ruth Martin and Ed Gibbon. Also City of Glasgow Univerisity, Sottish Qulaifications Authority, Chapelside Community Centre, Glasgow ESOL Forum, the Adult Literacy Network, the Cowane Centre and Working for You Hub,
Further information on Scottish ESOL, Adult Literacy and Refugee services can be found at the following sites:
WWETB Language and Literacy Service provides education to 4,204 Learners across two counties, in 13 FET Centres (including 1 Syrian Refugee Centre). Learning also takes place in numerous Community settings, including 5 Direct Provision Centres.