Buckinghamshire Council has partnered with education group Pearson to help taxi drivers improve their English skills, ready for license renewal.
From September 2022, anyone renewing a taxi license in Buckinghamshire will be required to take an English test to ensure all drivers can speak and understand English to an appropriate level.
Taxi drivers are in a unique and ideal position to spot and report protection issues by being able to identify when a passenger is being pressured to do something or taken somewhere against their will.
Previously, all taxi drivers had to have a good level of English, but this was not always assessed in an independent test. Now the government has introduced new requirements meaning anyone renewing a license will have to show they have a level of English that allows them to identify potential exploitation to protect children and vulnerable adults. If drivers do not pass the test, they will not be able to renew their licence.
In Buckinghamshire, taxi licenses are renewed every three years, so those who had a license issued or renewed three years ago will be the first drivers to take the assessment from September 2022. Drivers who have already passed the test or hold an equivalent qualification no need to take the test.
To support taxi drivers across the county, the Council has partnered with Bucks Adult Learning and education group, Pearson, to offer a prep workshop, as well as a mock assessment to prepare for the real test. This is to help drivers understand how they will be assessed and understand if they will pass the test. In addition to this, Bucks Adult Learning also offers a 14-week ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) course (at a reduced cost for those claiming benefits) to improve English skills for those who may have it. need. Drivers are encouraged to book and take the test now before their license renews and the test can be taken more than once if required.
Nick Naylor, Cabinet Member for Housing, Homelessness and Regulatory Services, said: “I understand that some taxi drivers may be concerned about these upcoming changes, but we are here to help and support all taxi drivers who need to improve their English skills. . Protecting the vulnerable is extremely important, and we are fortunate that our taxi drivers are able to help us with cases of county lines, child trafficking, and other serious protection issues. However, this can only be done if our drivers have a good understanding of the English language and can understand the conversations between their passengers. That’s why the government has introduced these new standards and why it’s important that those worried about passing the test take advantage of the excellent Pearson course on offer, as well as the Bucks Adult Learning workshop.
Pearson TalentLens UK Director Matt Stevens said: “The launch of our unique Versant English Testing service for Buckinghamshire Council is an exciting step forward in the use of remote testing. Working together, we have evolved our processes to meet the challenges of today’s environment and meet the need for a reliable English language testing service that meets new protection guidelines.