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.”
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.”
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.”