Ex-student Akash Ruparelia has made history by becoming the first ever fully qualified chartered accountant to graduate from the Leadership Through Sport & Business (LTSB) programme. Akash, 23, says he felt lost after failing his first year of college but was given a second chance to succeed by LTSB, who helped transform his life.

LTSB is a unique scheme that provides bright, underprivileged youngsters with unique opportunities and access to business and finance careers with major firms. LTSB prepares young people for the world of work and provides support throughout the first year or more of their employment. LTSB has worked with the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London for a number of years now offering these fantastic opportunities to its students.

Akash, who was part of the first group of young leaders to join the programme in 2012, said: “I went to The Magna Carta School in Staines where I got good grades and then went onto college but after a few weeks I knew it wasn’t for me. I stuck at it but ended up failing my first year.

“I was at a really low point but then I started looking into apprenticeships through the National Apprenticeship Service and came across LTSB. As well as always being good with numbers, what really caught my interest was that I’d be working with Tottenham Hotspur Foundation as part of the programme. I thought if they’re associated with a top football club they must be credible and so I took the opportunity and it paid off.

“I found the last five exams to become a fully chartered accountant really tough, the final stage took a lot of hard work just to get over the pass mark. I was doing weekend tuition and staying late at work, it was hard.

“I knew I was on track to be one of the first to qualify but it was never the aim however it’s a nice thing to know, especially being on the first year of the programme where there were so many talented individuals.”

LTSB offers intensive training with blue-chip companies and elite football foundations, which helps young people develop personally and professionally, preparing them for the business world.

He added: “It was brilliant to do social action in the community with the Tottenham Hotspur Foundation, I didn’t know Premier League clubs had outreach programmes, it was very eye opening. I was coaching football in local schools and it was great to get an FA Level 1 coaching badge and help the local communities surrounding the club. On top of working towards getting my accountancy qualifications with CONEL, it was important to learn new skills as part of the course, skills that are transferable into a business environment.”

LTSB placed Akash in an apprenticeship scheme with BayernLB to study AAT Level 3 and 4. After that Akash went on to work for Royal Windsor Racecourse and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, before securing a role as a Financial Analyst for global firm, Johnson & Johnson.

It wasn’t all plain sailing for Akash, he found the transition to working in a big company difficult but this is where the support system from LTSB and CONEL made a massive difference.

He said: “Everyone was just so helpful, right from the top with David Pinchin, the founder.

“David gave me a second chance. I can’t thank him enough for setting up LTSB. I wouldn’t have been accepted onto any other programme like this because of my grades but they saw the potential in me. When I joined the LTSB programme I had a goal, something to work towards and without David I wouldn’t have had this amazing opportunity.”

“It’s been hard but I’m reaping the rewards now. It was surreal to be offered a position at Johnson & Johnson as a Financial Analyst 8 months ago, especially after being told by my sixth form tutors at college that I wouldn’t be successful unless I went to university.  I’m thrilled to be working for one of the largest and most globally recognised companies in the world, it’s an incredible feeling.

“To anyone thinking about joining the LTSB programme I would say do it. Having accountancy qualifications gives you such a great foundation and means you can work in virtually any business.”

50 students from Japanese nursing school, Saitama Medical University Junior College, visited The College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London’s Enfield Centre yesterday, Tuesday 26 February 2019, to gain a greater understanding of the way nursing is taught in the UK.

The Japanese students were keen to see how teaching and practice differs between the UK and Japan, so the group divided their time between visiting CONEL and a local hospice. At CONEL, the students and their tutors were greeted by Access to Nursing tutor, Christine Peck, who introduced them to our Nursing Access to Higher Education Diploma students, before running workshops to help students discover what similarities and differences there are between them, and to help them learn from each other.

Christine Peck, said: “Today has been very interesting. I think it will make my students appreciate how broad their course is, despite it being difficult. In the UK we go into a lot more detail about mental health, sociology and psychology than they do in Japan. The Japanese students are very interested in the NHS as it is so different from their healthcare system and were shocked at how much work our access students do in just 9 months.”

Lunch gave our students and their Japanese counterparts the chance to learn about each other’s courses and cultures. CONEL student Doreen Addo said: “Getting to talk to the Japanese students has been very insightful, especially finding out how they pick their courses and modules. It’s also interesting to know that their courses are funded the same way as ours – either by parents, loans or scholarships.”

Student Nashania Johnson said: “Talking to our visitors was really motivating.  They liked the way we are taught to think and work independently by our tutors, and they felt that our course was challenging but also very interesting.  We have so much in common and were touched that they wanted us to visit them”.

CONEL was recommended to the traveling school by Miki Travel after all 25 Nursing Access to HE Diploma students were successfully places in Higher Education institutions.

When asked for his reflections on the day, Saitama Medical University Junior College tutor, Atsushi Katsuhisa, said: “It was very excellent and easy to understand. Very good for our students and we found CONEL a very good college.”

CONEL student Ashley Kalulu, told us: “Meeting the students from Japan and learning how much they wanted to know about our training in Enfield made me much more motivated and appreciative of the Access course. It has increased my determination to do well”.

On Thursday 7 February 2019 students at The College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London’s Tottenham Centre took part in an LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning and others) workshop to mark LGBTQ+ Month and to better understand what it’s like living as a member of the LGBTQ+ community.

As a nation, we pride ourselves on our tolerance, but according to the most recent Government National LGBT+ Survey in 2017, almost a quarter (24%) of LGBT+ people were not open about being LGBT+ with their own families, and more worryingly, 40% had experienced an incident because they were LGBT+, such as verbal harassment or physical violence, in the previous year.

More LGBTQ+ people live in London than any other part of the country. So, to raise awareness of the challenges that the LGBTQ+ community face every day, the Albert Kennedy Trust (AKT), an LGBTQ+ charity formed in Manchester in 1989, visited CONEL to deliver the workshop and educate students on their work.

Jason and Zoe from AKT facilitated an open and honest chat in which students were able to learn from each other by sharing their views, knowledge and experiences.

The workshop discussed around what the acronym LGBTQ+ stands for. After this the room was divided into groups where they completed task such as listing LGBTQ+ celebrities and discussing images of key moments in LGBTQ+ history.

CONEL student Mateusz Tylman said: “The workshop was very informative and helped me understand more about what the LGBTQ+ community is. I will keep in mind all the stereotypes people talk about and be more aware of how they can offend others.”

Zoe from AKT said: “I am inspired by the ways communities face the challenges they now come across and especially how young people respond to those. We are particularly important as a charity in terms of supporting vulnerable communities and tackling these tough issues.”

If you missed this event don’t worry, we have drop in sessions with the Tottenham Hotspur Foundation every Thursday 12-2pm. They are running 1-2-1 confidential meetings for CONEL students with experienced LGBTQ+ coordinators. There will also be a youth group activity, that will take place on the 2nd and 4th Thursday of every month from 4:30pm.

To find out more please contact Leah Stone on leah.stone@tottenhamhotspur.com or 07384 817 763.

Like many adults enrolling at CONEL, Agnieszka Sandak chose to return to education to improve her English to enable her to better support her autistic son. Born in Poland, her knowledge of English made it complicated in getting the help she needed from social services, charities and other organisations.

Agnieszka, 43, who studied a Level 1 Functional Skills course in English, said: “I wanted to improve my English and have more confidence with social interaction with friends, and to help my autistic son.

“The course was amazing and the teacher was perfect and so helpful. My English was already quite good, but it has definitely improved a lot.”

Adnieska is one of a growing number of adults who are returning to education at the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London to gain new or improve their existing skills.

Some have used them to boost their career prospects or help with their everyday lives, such as a DIY project or to improve their English or maths to help their children with their homework.

Geoffrey Forde, 45, who studied a Level 2 Plumbing Diploma, said: “The teachers really sparked my interest. The course was very practical and informative, and it has really increased my confidence.

“There was really positive atmosphere in the classroom and workshop, and a great camaraderie between the students.”

CONEL became London’s first free college in 2017-18, offering all its adult courses from Entry Level to Level 2 for free, resulting in a third more enrolments.

Free part-time evening and weekend courses were also added to CONEL’s provision, with some 40% of those studying these courses having gone on to further study at the college.

These now include a series of Women into Construction courses as a result of extra investment following CONEL becoming one of the first Mayor of London’s Construction Academy hubs.

Elizabeth Minter, 54, who studied a carpentry course last year used her new skills to build a lean-to at her home.

She said: “It’s been brilliant. It’s given me the confidence to know I can pick up a drill or a jigsaw and use it, rather than having someone else do it.”

For others, like Natalie Galloway, 36, the decision to do a bricklaying course was not just about learning new skills.

“You can save money if you need a job done when you can do it yourself, so it’s more financially beneficial,” she said.

CONEL offers free courses in Accounting, Business, Construction, Media Production and Games Design, Engineering, English and Maths, English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), Hair and Beauty, Health and Social Care, Computing, Music, Public Services, Science, Sport and Fitness, Travel and Tourism and Teacher Education.

The college introduced the free courses in response to more adults being trapped in low skilled, low paid jobs, ot who may have been put off by the cost of returning to education or felt they did not have the time to study.

Interim Principal Kurt Hintz said: “Affordability is one of the main barriers to many wanting to go back into education. Previously, adult learners would have to cover the cost of their studies out of their own pocket.

“At CONEL we wanted to remove this barrier to give everyone the chance to get back into education, regardless of age or income, knowing that education is the key to accessing higher paid jobs and getting ahead.”

Once again The College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London is running their student mentor programme with Career Ready, to prepare students for working life. The students met their mentors for the first time on 14 January 2019 at CONEL’s Enfield Centre.

Career Ready are a charity that offers a combination of group activities and employer engagement opportunities to prepare young people for the world of work. CONEL have worked with Career Ready for 6 years, offering students who successfully apply for the programme a mentor working in the sector they are interested in. This group of mentors work for household names, including Lloyds Banking Group, Santander Bank, HMRC, Pertemps Recruitment, Kaplan Financial and HM Treasury.

Students were introduced to their new mentors before watching a presentation by ex-mentee, Fatima Beedsay, who participated in the programme last year. She showed the new cohort the experiences they would be exposed to and the transferrable skills they would learn on the way. She rounded off her speech by saying: “This programme has helped me with many things especially my public speaking. After never doing any, three presentations later and I am here in front of you today.”

CONEL’s Programme Coordinator, Betty Benjamin told us: “This programme really sets students up for their future. Some students who have been on the programme before have gone on to university, apprenticeships and full time work. It builds confidence and opens students to the world of work, and is a great opportunity for them to start building their network.”

In their pairs, mentors and mentees then took part in an ice breaker quiz.

The event ended with a lunch, which was another opportunity for each student mentee to get to know their mentor and build rapport. Mentor Jane Penn, who was also part of the programme last year, said: “I think it’s a really valuable programme for both me and my mentee, I learn so much from them and it allows me to see what my mentee’s weaknesses and strengths are and help to build their confidence and bring them on to the next level.” 

For more information on the Career Ready programme, or to be part of the next cohort, please email Betty Benjamin at BBenjamin@conel.ac.uk