Newham College launches English centre of excellence

Head of COMED Janet Prendergast, ESOL tutor Vidjea Gaikwad, principal Di Gowland, director of ESOL R

Head of COMED Janet Prendergast, ESOL tutor Vidjea Gaikwad, principal Di Gowland, director of ESOL Richard Harris and former student Diana Moraru at the launch - Credit: Camille Ejezie

With such diversity in the borough, it comes as little surprise that 80 per cent of students at Newham College have a first language that is not English.

Now the college, which has campuses in High Street South, East Ham and Welfare Road, Stratford, has established a centre of excellence in vocational English for speakers of other languages.

This will incorporate the services of various departments and provide a route into community integration, vocational courses and sustainable employment.

It will provide students who may have higher level qualifications from abroad but with limited English language skills a practical route towards continuing their chosen careers in the UK.

The college’s English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) department will join the community education division and its centre for innovation and partnerships in forming the new centre of excellence.

The official launch saw students who had benefitted from the college’s ESOL programme return to share their stories.

Diana Moraru, who went on to work in human resources, said: “I didn’t speak any English when I started doing ESOL, but I went on to do a master’s degree at Kings College by the time I finished.

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“The staff are very experienced and the teachers motivate and engage the students.

“They really pushed me forward and it changed my life.”

The launch was also attended by representatives from each department as well as from the Newham Chamber of Commerce, the Redbridge Council for Voluntary Service and Newham Council.

Newham College principal Di Gowland said: “I am delighted about the launch of our centre of excellence for vocational ESOL.

“Newham is one of the most ethnically diverse boroughs in the country.

“Our students and staff speak collectively more than 100 languages and pretty much provide us with world geographic coverage in the countries they represent”.

She added: “ESOL and our work has enabled thousands of people to increase their confidence, enhance their employment prospects and integrate fully into our marvellously diverse and vibrant community.

“Our new centre of excellence is really going to build on this.”

The centre will work closely with a range of sectors, including health, construction, early years and childcare, fashion and catering.