Getting Political with Waltham Forest’s New Citizens

Talking to ESOL students

On Friday, I was invited to address a group of ‘ESOL’ (English as a Second Language) students at Waltham Forest College, as part of their British ‘citizenship’ course.

The students had been studying the local elections as part of classes they are taking to learn more about British democracy.

The pupils came from everywhere – Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, India, the Caribbean, Lithuania and Pakistan. Many were refugees who had been forced to flee their own countries and are now making a new life in Britain.

Students listening

I talked with them about my reasons for joining the Labour party, the local election campaign, and about my priorities for Leyton ward over the coming four years. The policy areas the students were most interested in discussing were crime, overcrowded housing and employment – all issues very close to my heart as regular visitors to this site will know!

With the students and their mock election party banners

As part of the course, their tutors had also organised ‘mock elections’ during the local election campign and the students created their own parties and manifestos (see the photo of their manifesto placards above) to campaign for victory. I was pleased to learn that the ‘United Party’, which has policies very similar to Labour’s had won the students’ local elections!

I will be returning to the college later this month to participate in another citizenship lesson with a second ESOL group.

I would like to thank Waltham Forest’s ESOL tutors for inviting me.

Getting to know these students was a truly rewarding experience.

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