The Learning English in Leeds (LEL) website is the first project under the umbrella of Migrant English Support Hub (MESH), a consortium of learning providers and other stakeholders set up to support adult migrants as they make a new life in Leeds. From 2001 to 2009 the field of ESOL lay within Skills for Life, a national policy aimed at addressing shortcomings in adult basic skills. From 2009 onwards, however, a series of cuts to central government funding has left the field of ESOL in some disarray. Current national policy leaves responsibility for the coordination of ESOL to local bodies, including local authorities.
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The Management Committee Members
The Management Committee meets monthly and is an Unincorporated Group, with a constitution and a formal management committee. Its members are:
Pria Bhabra is a Commissioning Officer (Migrant Access) for Leeds City Council and works on the Migrant Access Project with partners across the city. The aim being to help reduce pressures on statutory services where there is an impact of migration in Leeds, and in addition, to help new arrivals settle in Leeds. The work of the project has been recognised both within the Local Authority staff awards of excellence and crucially highlighted as an exemplar of good practice in the external assessment under the Equality Framework for Local Government. MESH is an important platform to explore efficiency savings and increase access and opportunity to those that wish to learn English.
Dr James Simpson
Dr James Simpson is a senior lecturer in the School of Education, University of Leeds, where he leads the Language Education academic team. He has been researching the teaching of English to multilingual students since 2004. In his early career he worked as an English language teacher in the UK, Europe and the Middle East. He is the co-author of ESOL: A Critical Guide (OUP, 2008), the editor of The Routledge Handbook of Applied Linguistics (Routledge, 2011) and the co-editor of Adult Language Education and Migration: Challenging Agendas in Policy and Practice (Routledge, 2015).
Carl Banks is a Senior Development Worker at Learning Partnerships. Carl has responded to the English Language needs of hundreds of ESOL learners across the city. Establishing accredited and non-accredited courses in children’s centres, schools, community centres, churches and mosques, Learning Partnerships has a wealth of experience when it comes to supporting the needs of the migrant community. Carl and Learning Partnerships were keen to be involved in the MESH (Migrant English Support Hub) due to their joint commitment in creating a cohesive and accessible information resource for learners and professionals in Leeds.
Veronica Omeni is the vice principle and director of studies at Leeds Learning College Ltd and has been working in the English Language Teaching Industry for over two decades. She has gained 21 years' managerial experience working with private, public and commercial institutions as well as universities and language schools and acted as trainer, examiner and consultant on traditional, e-learning and multimedia training projects. She has worked with both adult and young learners from a broad range of nationalities and with different learning needs. During her career in the UK and overseas, Veronica has worked with and managed international teams of teachers, educational managers and administrative staff. She has designed and cooperated on several successful EU training projects- training teachers, educators and business executives in inter-cultural awareness, curriculum design, methodology, IT, education technology and communication skills.
Clare Jackson is the director of Sunflower ESOL and the Migrant English Support Hub (MESH) or LEL development worker. Clare studied Biology and Education at St John’s College in York and began her teaching career in primary schools. Since moving on from primary education Clare has taught EAL in a Leeds High School and has worked for Education Leeds developing ESOL classes for parents in primary schools. Clare is an experienced teacher who has worked in both mainstream and voluntary ESOL provision for the last ten years. She has been working on the MESH project for the last year and teaches a Sunflower ESOL class at Leeds Refugee Forum.
Jayne Grant is the Interpreting and Translation Team Co-ordinator at Leeds City Council and manages the Council’s Interpreting and Translation Service and the team co-ordinates requests for interpreters to assist with communication with non-English speaking customers accessing Council services. The Learning English in Leeds website will allow Leeds City Council staff to identify suitable ESOL classes for those non-English speaking customers to learn English to help them integrate into the community and make a better life for themselves. It may also help reduce the interpreting costs for the Council.
Fiona Gregg is the Manager of the Leeds City College 's ESOL in Children's centre project and the family learning programme across the Leeds reach. The Esol programme was piloted initially with the college, as a way of plugging a loop hole in the progression of students with ESOL needs on to mainstream programmes. Fiona manages the funding, staffing and provision of this programme and works with targeted centres where the need is greatest. Initially there was funding for approximately 40 classes across the Leeds reach, incorporating some 36 children's centres.
Roger is the manager of RETAS (Refugee Education Training Advice Service), which is an organisation that helps asylum seekers and refugees to integrate by supporting them in their education, employment and training needs. RETAS currently run a well-attended integration project called "Steps to Settlement". This programme uses ESOL as the vehicle by which the whole course is delivered. Roger believes that language acquisition is paramount to successful integration and as the lead partner in the MESH project RETAS will encourage our students, providers and others to make use of this initiative. MESH will enable access or signposting to all the ESOL courses available in Leeds.
Julie Linley is the ESOL Coordinator at St. Vincent Support Centre. She manages the largest free ESOL programme in Leeds aiming to help meet the identified need for ESOL in the community while also providing support to migrants through the holistic services available through St. Vincent’s. After becoming a primary teacher, she completed an MA in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) and has been involved in teaching EFL/ESOL for over 10 years in the UK and abroad. She has informed ESOL instruction at the primary, high school and adult education levels providing training and support to teachers and trainee teachers. St. Vincent’s is keen to support MESH and establish a more collaborative approach across Leeds enabling ESOL to become accessible for all, especially the most vulnerable in the communities in Leeds.
Dr Stephen Woulds
Dr Stephen Woulds, Head of ESOL at Leeds City College. We have an outstanding team of English language teachers who are dedicated to giving every student the highest quality learning experience. Teachers who love teaching inspire students to love learning. I am proud to be part of this team.
I started training in Accounting in 2013. I’ve been involved in helping several charities both in the UK and abroad. Away from work/ study I enjoy being an aunty to my nieces & nephews and I enjoy watercolour painting.
David is one of the English at Home Volunteer Managers for Leeds Asylum Seeker's Support Network. LASSN train volunteers to teach English in the homes of refugees and asylum seekers who are unable to attend college or community classes for a variety of reasons. He worked as a Secondary School teacher in the UK as well as teaching English in India and South America. He is the author of Scar Tissue and Blessed, Bound and Broken, novels raising awareness on human trafficking and caste based discrimination.
Jack works for the Digital Change department in the City and Community hub of Leeds City Council. He has been supporting MESH on the management group since 2017.
Tina is one of the Volunteer Managers for the English at Home (EaH) project at Leeds Asylum Seekers Support Network. This project supports refugees and asylum seekers who, due to caring responsibilities or mobility difficulties are unable to attend English classes outside of the home. EaH recruits, trains and supports Volunteer teachers to deliver lessons in people's homes each week. Tina first became involved with refugees when she spent 16 months developing and managing food distribution systems in Calais, Northern France for the grassroots organisation Help Refugees. Alongside EaH she is currently completing an MA in Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies.