URTU support ESOL partnership in Bolton

A unique partnership between Bolton Languages School and the Workersʼ Educational Association (WEA), supported by URTU, is providing support to ESOL learners who would otherwise not be able to access English support. 

The majority of learners are refugees and asylum seekers from many conflict areas in the world such as Somalia, Eritrea, Syria, Ethiopia, Congo, Kazakhstan and Sudan. ESOL tutors Rita Mucha and Judith Swift both support groups of ESOL Beginner learners at the School and soon realised that the learners rarely left their small communities in Bolton except to come to the Jobcentre and the Bolton Language School. 

The Language School is a very short walk away from historic buildings in Bolton such as the impressive Town Hall and the beautifully grand Le Mans crescent but very few learners had ever been there. 

Rita and Judith had both been keen to explore with learners how they could practise English outside the classroom environment and get more involved with Bolton life. The lovely Bolton Central Library is in Le Mans Crescent in the same space as the Bolton Museum and the tutors paid a planning visit to the Library to find out if they could bring both groups to the Library. 

Library staff were wonderfully supportive and arranged for staff to be available to process over 30 applications from the ESOL learners to join the Library and also to answer any queries. 

The Crescent Library manager was pleased to meet the group and give a talk about how the Library service could offer a range of activities and services free of charge to the learners who had never engaged with the services. 

Learners were excited by the visit and built on classroom learning to follow a Google map to find their way to the Library. They were very pleased that every single learner found their way without a problem! 

They eagerly took part in a quiz devised by tutors to help them find out what was in the Library including activities to promote engaging family learning. Learners all joined the Library and were delighted with their membership cards. 

In follow up activities at the centre it was clear that learners were planning a range of ways to take advantage of Library membership. Learners with children and grandchildren are already planning family visits and other learners had visited the Museum since the trip to find out more about Boltonʼs culture and history. Learner feedback was that they enjoyed the atmosphere and that the quiet of the building improved their sense of wellbeing. They felt enriched by exposure to the buildings and opportunities they found out about. For all the latest news visit

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