It is Refugee Week and we are celebrating with a few examples of ESOL NI partnership initiatives and supported programmes through the ESOL VPRS Coordination Point and funded by the Department for the Economy.
Girdwood goes online – Belfast Met ESOL community delivery
Since the announcement of the lockdown measures by the UK government at the end of March 2020, all Colleges in Northern Ireland have been making an effort to engage with students so there is no complete break of learning progress during this period of self-isolation due to COVID-19.
The Belfast Met decided to take its community ESOL provision, normally successfully delivered at Girdwood Community Hub three terms per years at full capacity to groups of refugee mixed ability learners, to an online platform via the Zoom App.
As the demand for ESOL classes in Girdwood was still significantly high and learners were able to demonstrate their willingness, availability and access to technology in order to participate on an online version of the programme through a regional electronic survey conducted by ESOL NI with its learners, the decision was made to run the classes remotely.
The Belfast Met ESOL team recruited, enrolled and prepared the 18 students for the 6 weeks online programme delivered on Mondays and Wednesdays by the Belfast Met qualified ESOL tutor, Rebekah Smyth.
The students were delighted with the opportunity of having the classes during the period of lockdown and the teacher gave us incredibly positive feedback about the classes:
‘Today was the last class, so we are now finished- another successful course, well done! They were all really keen, it was good fun! Attendance was excellent, the students seemed happy. I think the online approach worked really well. I told them that when we know what’s happening next term, they will be notified by email and WhatsApp’ – Rebekah Smyth – Belfast Met ESOL tutor