More than 3,000 people have signed up to study courses at the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London (CONEL) during the first week of enrolment.

The college offers a wide range of vocational courses at its centres in Tottenham and Enfield, which are free up to Level 2 regardless of age or income.

CONEL also offers English, Maths and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) courses and some higher education qualifications and free short courses.

Kalioppi Thymaras, 23, will be studying a Creative Media Production Level 2 Diploma to help her gain the skills for her dream career in TV or film production.

She said: “I want to get a career in the media industry, but I don’t really have any relevant qualifications, so it’s an opportunity for me to get some experience and maybe go on to an apprenticeship later. I really like the creativity and being able to express myself.

Kalioppi at enrolment

Kalioppi, who moved to the UK from Greece when she was 17, has been working in a pub in Shoreditch while deciding her career path.

She said: “I got to meet one of the teachers on my course and ask her some questions about what the course involves and what projects we’ll be doing. I’m really looking forward to getting back into studying and being back in a school setting again.”

Shaun Saunders-Pierre, 32, enrolled on a Plumbing Level 2 Diploma and hopes to go into business with former CONEL student Dustin Clark who runs his own plumbing firm.

He said: “Dustin did the same course at CONEL and now has his own company, which pushed me to follow in his footsteps. I hope to go into business with him and he can show me the ropes and what he’s learnt doing it professionally. He said it’s a good place to learn, and all the skills that he learnt he gained while being at college.”

Shaun previously worked as a security guard before moving into warehousing jobs during which time he undertook a free short course in fork-lift operating at CONEL.

“I’ve worked for come good companies but felt like a change in career. I’m good working with my hands and trying to figure things out, so thought plumbing would be a good choice, and this course will give me that opportunity and environment to get the skills I need.”

Carmela at enrolment

Carmela Antoniou, 39, will be starting a Foundation Degree in Counselling having previously studied for counselling qualifications at Level 2 and 3.

She said: “I’m very altruistic and what you might call a wounded healer. I went through a traumatic experience in my childhood and ended up taking a few people to court. I received compensation, which I invested into becoming a counsellor and the person I would have needed back then.”

Carmela has further aspirations to help young offenders and is looking to set up a charity to provide for counselling services for parents of children with special needs.

She said: “Studying counselling has already drastically changed my life. I am definitely much more resilient and in tune with myself from the personal growth you get from it, and I’m sure CONEL will help me along the way.”

Francisco Ocampo Gonzalez, 47, will be studying a more advanced ESOL course having started learning English at CONEL last year.

He said: “For me, it is very important to learn English because I live here. All jobs and places ask if you can to understand English. When you can’t communicate it can be complicated to explain what you need. I practice with my friends and family, but there is never enough time to learn.”

Francisco was born in Colombia where he worked as a painter before coming to the UK from Spain in 2007 to be with his sister and uncle.

He said: “I had a very good teacher on my last ESOL course. She was very good in her explanation and helped me a lot. That is why I am very happy to come back.”

You too could be among the students enrolling at CONEL this summer and gaining new skills and knowledge to enhance your career and education prospects.

Enrol at CONEL today to start a course this September.

Students at CONEL celebrated as they overcame the challenges of the COVID pandemic to achieve a fantastic set of GCSE results. The college saw 45.3 per cent achieve 9-4 grades in Maths and 35.9 per cent of students attain the same grades in English. Many were retaking GCSEs or taking them for the first time with some having English as a second language. Adult students were particularly strong in Maths where 71.4 per cent achieved 9-4 grades while 58.9 per cent attained the same grades in English.

Students did not sit exams this year due to COVID-19 with their grades being determined by teachers’ assessment of their actual evidence-based ability rather than predicted grades. 

Maryna Borsuk, 32, took the first step towards her dream of becoming a teacher after achieving a grade 9 in Maths while also studying an English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) course.

She said: “I am overwhelmed and very surprised. Getting this result is good for my future because I want to study teaching. I’ve been so happy and want to study more and do GCSE English next year. It will be difficult, but I will do everything I can to pass this exam.”

Maryna, who lives in Enfield, came to the UK from Ukraine three years ago, where she worked in various jobs in retail, security, factories and farming. 

She said: “I thought about accounting and teaching, but decided that working with students and explaining things to them would give me more pleasure than numbers and paperwork.

Maryna was full of praise for her college tutors who have inspired her career ambitions.

She said: “It was difficult learning online, but the teachers did everything they could to help. If I had any questions that they did not have time to answer in class I could email them and they would respond in their private time. They’ve been amazing.”

Maryna Borsuk achieved a grade 9 in Maths while also studying an English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) course.

Mohamed Farah, 19, from Enfield, attained a grade 9 in Maths while completing an IT Level 3 Extended Diploma after coming to the UK from Somalia following a year in Cyprus.

He said: “I am really pleased. I never thought I would get a grade 9. I attended every class and my teacher was very helpful. He gave us extra hours revision and everything we needed to succeed.

“He saw my potential and put me in for the higher assessment, and I’m glad he did. I’m very happy and couldn’t have asked for more.”

Mohamed hopes to go on to a degree apprenticeship and a career in data analytics when he has completed his diploma at CONEL.

Michelle Bailey, 39, also from Enfield, achieved a grade 7 in English and hopes to continue her education on an Access to Higher Education Diploma in Nursing course at CONEL.

She said: “I’m ecstatic and so happy. I’ve just recovered from COVID and had a lot of chest pain, but I’ll take it with this good news. This is absolutely amazing.

“Studying in lockdown was extremely hard. The teachers told us what we need to work on and really encouraged and motivated us. I really pushed myself and studied every chance I got. We did a lot of assessments instead of exams, which was good but a lot of work. I preferred it in some ways because I get nervous – it’s been more than 20 years since I’ve done an exam!

“I would walk past the college and say to myself, ‘I’m going to see you again in September,’ and I’m now so excited about coming back and learning more.”

The mum-of-three came to the UK from Jamaica in 2002 and applied for the Access course but family commitments and the cost stopped her from enrolling. Her visa then expired and she was unable to work for seven years before getting jobs in homecare and retail.

She said: “Nursing is something I’ve always wanted to do. Back home in Jamaica my grandmother was a missionary, and I would go with her to help the disabled, visually impaired and those less fortunate. My mum and auntie are nurses, so I come from a very caring family.

“My neighbour was always saying I should do something for myself now the kids are older. I’ve decided to go for it. I don’t care how hard or stressful it is, I really want to do it.”

Michelle Bailey achieved a grade 7 in English and hopes to study an Access to Higher Education Diploma in Nursing.

CONEL runs GCSE and Functional Skills courses in English and Maths along with ESOL courses from Entry Level to Level 1 covering listening, speaking, reading and writing.

The college also offers vocational courses in Accounting, Business, Beauty Therapy, Childcare, Construction, Digital Media, Engineering, Hairdressing, Health and Social Care, Music, Public Services, Science, Sport and Travel and Tourism.

All courses at CONEL are free up to Level 2.

CONEL is part of Capital City College Group, which also comprises City and Islington College and Westminster Kingsway College, and apprenticeship and training provider Capital City College Training.

Kurt Hintz, Executive Principal of Capital City College Group, said: “We are very proud of the great results of our students after such a disrupted and difficult period. Our students have shown huge amounts of dedication, perseverance and resilience in adversity which has prepared them well for their future education and careers. 

“We congratulate all of our students on their results and wish them well in their next steps. We would also like to give special thanks to our teachers and support staff who worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic to secure the life chances of their students.”

Find out more about English, Maths and ESOL courses.