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Inverclyde Council (New Scots Get Connected)

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Lead Organisation:
Inverclyde Council
Theme:
Award Amount:
£87,024

Our project intended to deliver an induction programme to support New Scots to learn English and build social connections with the wider community following their arrival in Inverclyde, building on elements of practice that have worked both locally and elsewhere in Scotland.

Our intention is that this would develop the foundations for a model beyond the induction phase to enable New Scots to develop English and social connections hand in hand, one supporting and strengthening the other.

New Scots reached
68

Key Information

Our project aimed to:

  • Improve┬áparticipants English and increase their confidence to apply language learning in a range of contexts
  • Improve social connections and reduce social isolation
  • Provide an opportunity for New Scots to celebrate their own culture and talents

Key Information

Geographical reach

Inverclyde

Dates

30/11/2021 – 30/11/2022

Target Groups

Newly arrived New Scots and settled New Scots with low levels of English.

Project Type

Spreading good practice

Situation

Feedback from current New Scots, prior to Covid and lockdown and more recent individual discussions with them has evidenced the need to provide more innovative approaches to ESOL, linked to opportunities to practice language. New Scots have told us how much they have been affected by social isolation and Covid has highlighted some of the things they are not able to do independently as previously neighbours or staff helped, e.g. dealing with bills, banking, shopping etc.

We have also trialled/ delivered elements of the project in other programmes (events, shared learning between New Scots and the local community etc.) over the last few years and feedback has shown they encourage participation and deliver better outcomes for New Scots but we have never identified these elements and applied them systematically as part of a wider approach. We want to give New Scots an improved experience when they first arrive to better deliver on the key outcomes of this bid.

Involvement of New Scots in project

New Scots have been meaningfully engaged at all stages of the project. Right from early interpreter supported group and 1:1 initial assessments. These assessment informed quarter 1 and 2 activities. Feedback was gained via learner feedback and staff reflections to inform the development of the project. All learning sessions were based on learner needs assessments. All group based activities were based on the needs of the learners.

Impact

The initial model for delivery worked well with twice weekly ESOL sessions, 1:1 support (although limited) and language practice activities. Despite the final quarter change in the model from twice weekly ESOL sessions to single sessions to cope with the massive increase in referrals evidence from our learners shows we made a positive impact to the main outcomes listed in the project. Learner feedback show they had improved their English via ESOL session, group-based language practice activities and online learning. The group-based activities also allowed learners to apply their learning in a range of contexts. One of the main successes was the rapid expansion of group-based learning activities based on learner identified need. The legacy of 14 trained volunteers will support ESOL learners for years to come.

The main impact of the learning from the project is a change in the proposed Inverclyde model to support twice weekly ESOL sessions, language practice group activities and using volunteers 1:1 support. The department is now seeking increased funding to support this model. One of the main successes initially was working closely with the Refugee Integration Team and having a member of staff who spoke Arabic was vital to engaging, assessing and communication initially.

Challenges encountered

The rapid rise in referrals placed considerable strain on the whole ESOL service within CLD. The 3 fold increase in referral rates impacted on the intended twice weekly ESOL learning sessions. The decision was made to work with more project beneficiaries within this period rather than run the planned model with some learners not getting any ESOL learning.

The 1:1 model was largely rejected by learners during this quarter in favour of group based social and language practice activities. Volunteer training took longer than anticipated due to the length of time to recruit and screen potential volunteers. The PVG process also took time due to issues with suitable ID and debates with Disclosure Scotland over the level of PVG needed. PVG for volunteers was also a challenge.

Reflections

Based on this project we are attempting to secure resources to continue this model offering learners in Inverclyde a minimum of 2 ESOL classes, online distance learning and co-ordinated language practice activities. Although we had to change the model in August, we are confident that the impact of this new model shows us the way forward for future service provision.

We have recognised the importance of communicating clearly with New Scots and the benefits of working closer with the Refugee Integration Team.

We have recognised the importance of the role of the New Scots Development Worker role in making the partnership links across the wider refugee sector and linking ESOL classroom learning with language practice activities and supporting online learning. Being that link between ourselves, the RIT and the learners was vital to the success of the project.

Project Partners