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Gateway Qualifications has been chosen by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) as the sole Awarding Organisation for the provision of English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL).

This means that, from 1st April 2019, all ESOL qualifications taken within MoJ prisons in England must be done with Gateway Qualifications.

Gateway Qualifications has delivered ESOL for over 15 years and has extensive experience working with providers in secure and community settings. Our offender learning offer now includes ESOL, English and maths, employability, vocational and personal development qualifications, as well as a professional development selection for staff CPD.

Ideal for the secure environment

Our flexibly designed qualifications are ideal for the secure environment as they have been developed with accessibility at the core to ensure that all learners are able to fulfil their potential. They can also be embedded within vocational content, enabling learners to demonstrate their English skills whilst learning or participating in a practical skill. Support materials providing examples of activities which support embedded learning are provided.

Gateway Qualifications’ personalised service and excellent customer care also ensures that learners are not disadvantaged if they move between prisons mid-course and makes the process as simple as possible for the learning providers too.

Inclusive approach to assessment

Nearly one third of prisoners self-identify on initial screening as having a learning difficulty and/or disability so using Gateway Qualifications’ ESOL qualifications will benefit prison education providers as the qualifications minimise the need for reasonable adjustments/special considerations through an inclusive approach to assessment for all learners. Where reasonable adjustments and special consideration are required, Centres can authorise these for internally marked assessments (Entry Level 1 to Level 1) with applications to Gateway Qualifications only required for externally marked assessments at Level 2.

Choosing ESOL qualifications

To help you choose the most appropriate qualification pathway for learners for whom English is a second (or even third or fourth) language we have put together this guide:

Why ESOL qualifications make sense for non-native English speakers

The full list of ESOL Qualifications approved by the Ministry of Justice for delivery under the contract is:



Speaking and Listening


Certificates in ESOL

Once a learner has successfully completed all three components, they will be awarded a certificate in ESOL Skills for Life at no additional charge. Certificates are awarded at the level of the lowest achieved component.

On these pages we’ve pulled together a collection of guidance and articles designed to help you deliver smoothly in the prison context.

Webinar for administrators

This webinar is for administrators and those responsible for registering and claiming. Joe from our Customer Excellence team offers clear and informative guidance on admin tasks related to our ESOL qualifications.


  • the registration process
  • our newly implemented Direct Entry of Results feature
  • how to access the assessment papers for Entry and Level 1
  • how to book Level 2 assessments.

This is the perfect chance to familiarise yourself with our processes for those of you who may be new to Gateway Qualifications and for those of you who just want a refresher!

Watch on-demand now

Case Study

Discover how HMP Bronzefield successfully run Gateway Qualifications’ ESOL provision, resulting in progression and employability.

Delivering an ESOL qualification that adapts to learners personal and environmental needs

Frequently Asked Questions

Some of the most common questions we’ve been asked about running ESOL recently are answered below.

Choosing Qualifications
What can I do with Gateway Qualifications?

From 1st April 2019, all ESOL qualifications taken within MoJ prisons in England must be done with Gateway Qualifications.

Prisons in Wales or run by a private contractor are recommended to use Gateway Qualifications’ ESOL.

In addition to ESOL, we have an extensive range of qualifications and units covering subjects such employability skillslife skills and personal developmentprofessional development and vocational skills.

Some of our most popular qualifications used in prisons are

And for staff, our Education and Training qualifications are popular for CPD.

Supporting your delivery
What support materials are available for ESOL delivery?

Gateway Qualifications has developed a set of support materials specifically for those delivering ESOL in the secure environment. These include guidance on:

  • Contextualising ESOL
  • Teaching and learning resources
  • Independent learning materials

These documents are available in a range of topics and levels, and you’re free to use whichever are most suitable for your learners.

They can be downloaded from the Gateway Qualifications pages on Virtual Campus or from our Prism portal.

How do I access the assessment papers?

Assessment papers are accessed securely through our Quartzweb portal. Guidance on how to access the papers can be found on our website by following this link.

I cannot download the sound files for the Speaking and Listening tasks, how can we complete the assessments?

Sound files for speaking and listening assessments are available to download from our Quartzweb portal. Guidance on how to do this is provided on our website.

These websites have been white-listed by the Ministry of Justice to allow access from within the secure estate, although an issue with some Prisons downloading the sound files is currently being looked into.

If you are unable to download or play the files supplied, please follow the guidance detailed within the Qualification Specification as follows –

“If centres are unable to access the sound file, they may record their own (a transcript is provided in the Assessor Pack) but the voice on the recording must not be that of the candidate’s tutor.”

Should you wish to read the scripts to the learners, permission is required from Gateway Qualifications’ Quality Manager and the assessment will need to be observed by an External Quality Assurer (EQA).

I had an EQA visit recently but have not received the report yet?

Following your Quality visit, the EQA submits their report to our Quality Manager for review and sign off.  Once this has occurred the report is forwarded to the Quality contact of your Prison Education Provider for them to disseminate accordingly.

Your quality contact should normally receive the report within 10 working days of the visit.

There are more frequently asked questions on our website – and if you can’t find the answer you need, just get in touch with us. You don’t ever need to feel that there’s a question you can’t ask us.

How do I update a failed Unique Learner Number (ULN) validation?

Periodically it is useful to check for and update failed ULN validations, the following guidance will show you how:

Updating failed ULN Validations