Monday, November 23, 2015

EdD - Background reading on ESOL Assessment in Scotland

Search: scotland esol citizenship assessment [library, primo central, 20 peer reviewed, of which 19 fto]

Gately (2015) is a small scale qualitative study of the work of the Refugee Integration and Employment Service (RIES) cut by the Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition in the UK in 2011. RIES, amongst other things, provided advice to young (18-29) refugees on accessing Further and Higher Education in the UK. Gately gives a useful outline (p28) of the treatment of those seeking asylum in the UK: refugee status is granted to those recognised as refugees, and “humanitarian protection” is granted to those not recognised as refugees who cannot return to a country for humanitarian reasons. Both categories of people get leave to remain in the UK for 5 years, and “Indefinite Leave to Remain” can be applied for thereafter. For those in neither category, “in limited circumstances” there is the possibility of getting leave to remain for up to 3 years.  Both refugee and humanitarian protection status give rights to employment, welfare benefits, health and education. No reference is given for this outline. 

Those with refugee or humanitarian protection status have access to education in the same way as UK citizens, including the provision of funding and fee remission, but the rules for this are complicated, (Doyle and O’Toole 2013, 14).  The lack of research in relation to refugee young people and access to education is noted (p28), together with the difficulties of getting numbers of refugees broken down by age. Information available to young people refugees about access to education may be inaccurate as the situation is complicated, (Doyle and O’Toole 2013, 14).

Baynham and Simpson 2010 with regard to ESOL learners in England, note that the curriculum is based on a word-sentence-text view of language learning, based on Standard English in a monlingual framework, taking no account of multilingual realities. Because most ESOL provision is situated in the FE sector, there are funding imperatives which are assessment based, so that the focus is on students as test takers, (p422-3).  The structure of learning is for emergent bilinguals to keep on moving up a level in the curriculum, with the final goal being a test of Life in the UK, a de facto requirement for UK citizenship.  (Baynham and Simpson reference Bernstein 1999 in connexion with their theoretical framework. Although that title hasn’t come up in my search (above), it seems that it may be helpful to inform my own theoretical understanding, so I’m going off-piste somewhat to finish the day’s reading with it - it has 677 citations in Google Scholar, tomorrow search within them for ESOL). 

Bernstein 1999, ironically, is written in the discourse associated with sociology, with which I’m not completely at home. Essentially, horizontal discourse can be characterised by the adjective common, as in common-sense, common-knowledge. It’s subjective and situated in realm of the day-to-day. This is contrasted with vertical discourse, which is (obviously) top-down, structured knowledge, such as we find in the sciences and humanities. I can see how this framework is useful in sociolinguistic and critical pedagogy contexts. An assessment led pedagogy will necessarily be vertical. A formative pedagogy, seeing the learner as an emergent bilingual, who has as much or more to offer as she needs to be given, is horizontal. 


Baynham, M., & Simpson, J. (2010). Onwards and upwards: space, placement, and liminality in adult ESOL classes. TESOL Quarterly, 44(3), 420-440.

Bernstein, B. (1999). Vertical and horizontal discourse: An essay. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 20(2), 157-173.

Doyle, L., & O'Toole, G. (2013). A lot to learn: refugees, asylum seekers and post-16 learning.

Gateley, D. (2013). A policy of vulnerability or agency? Refugee young people’s opportunities in accessing further and higher education in the UK. Compare: A Journal Of Comparative And International Education, 45(1), 26-46.