The first step on the road to better English

The ESOL assessment is serious business!

ISS employees based at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital have started a course in English for speakers of other languages (ESOL), with the support of UNISON.

On Tuesday 4th of September, ISS staff members took the assessment test for the ESOL/functional skills course. This was possible with the support of UNISON, who negotiated with the employer to include the chance of taking part in such a course in their contract and who worked with the training provider, CONEL, to prepare the material.

The assessment test took place at the ISS training centre in London. 30 staff members employed by ISS in the Chelsea and Westminster site got release from work to attend.  Their mother tongues are mainly Portuguese, Nepalese and Spanish. In the end, a majority of them were assessed as Pre-Entry Level 1, and a few below that. The next step is to start the Functional Skills course, which will be delivered over the course of 15 weeks, 3 hrs a week.

Arrangements for the course have been made since January 2018. Meetings between UNISON representatives and ISS management staff have taken place to discuss the provision of the course. UNISON representatives have made sure that the possibility to take part in ESOL courses was written in the workers’ contracts, as part of the employer’s “duty to care”. During these meetings, it was decided to prioritise the members of staff who would benefit the most from the course.

National Learning and Development Organiser Oreleo Du Cran said,

Supporting ‘hard to reach’ learners is a very important part of Learning & Development here at UNISON. Our Inclusive Learning Project supports learning in the workplace and ESOL Functional skills are essential if the staff at ISS are going to develop better customer service and communication skills.  When this cohort has completed the course we hope to roll it out to more employees/members across the organisation depending upon need to ensure fairness of opportunity. The Regional Organiser Pamela Okuns-Edokpayi has been instrumental in ensuring that this course went ahead.  I look forward to supporting this ESOL Functional Skills course and hopefully this can run on way beyond the first cohort.

UNISON will continue supporting lifetime learning by promoting LAOS and the ULF Inclusive Learning Project at Harefield Hospital to boost branch participation in the learning agenda.