Parents are benefiting from greater access to training opportunities, thanks to enhanced childcare facilities at the College of North East London (CONEL).

The College's nursery now provides 50 places to the children of students, double its previous capacity. This means that more young women, many of whom are lone parents, can study and gain qualifications that lead straight into jobs, fulfilling their career and economic ambitions and meeting the needs of local employers in the process.

Enfield resident, Stephanie Courtney, lives in Frederick Crescent EN3. She is two years into an NVQ Level 2 in Hairdressing at CONEL and looks forward to a good career when she completes the course. "My daughter, Aliyah, is two and without a place in the nursery for her, I wouldn't be able to take my course," she says. "It means an independent future for both of us, if I can get a good job when I finish."

CONEL, in partnership with Enfield College, has just acquired Centre of Vocational Excellence (CoVE) status for its courses in Early Years. This is awarded by the Learning and Skills Council for North London, after both colleges made submissions about their work in this area.

Many learners take early years and childcare courses and CONEL's nursery also provides valuable work placements to these students, so that they are able to gain sound experience of working with children. The courses result in professional qualifications and have a strong emphasis on practical experience. The nursery, along with a crèche at Broadwater Farm Centre, provides care for students' children, allowing parents time to study and gain qualifications.

Cynthia Maginley runs the nursery, with a total of 17 staff between the CONEL and Broadwater Farm sites. "The majority of our parents this year have gone on to university" she says. "Nursery also provides real benefits for their children, as we work hard to build their self-esteem from a very young age. We get very positive feedback from headteachers when they make the transition to school."

Yvonne Taylor is CONEL's Head of Early Years and manages the CoVE programme. "This initiative grew out of the National Skills Agenda which promotes lifelong learning, more people gaining vocational qualifications at higher levels and a supply network that meets the demand of local employers" she explains. "The support that children receive in their early years is crucial to their success throughout their education, so we are delighted to receive the CoVE stamp of excellence for work that helps our learners and ultimately, young children, to achieve their potential."

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