Nescot GCSE students - the next exam is English (paper 1) on Thurs 23 May. For all info please click here

More than 75 Ukrainian refugees have been learning English this summer at a free four-week summer school staffed by teachers from Nescot.

The daily classes were part of a broader programme overseen by The Epsom Refugee Network, with adults learning English while their children enjoyed fun sessions to prepare them for school.

Parents were also given support to access the local community and help preparing for interviews.

“We’re really proud Nescot was able to be part of this initiative,” said Lisa Moynihan, Director of Learning Support at the college.

“The students have been a pleasure to work with, and we’ve been really glad to hear how much they’ve enjoyed and valued their lessons.

“We hope that helping the refugees with their language skills will give them the tools to improve their lives in the UK while they’re unable to live in Ukraine.”

The staff from Nescot worked hard to develop a differentiated scheme of work, with lessons based on the students’ real day-to-day needs, from understanding public transport to preparing their CVs.

They also had a visit from a Croydon-based entrepreneur, who supported their speaking practice with some real-world interview experience.

Oksana Tverdokhlib, a computer programme from Kharkiv, arrived in the UK in March and is living with a host family in Tadworth. Her husband and parents remain in Ukraine.

“The summer school has been amazing,” she said. “My English has improved so much, and what we’ve learnt has been relevant to our lives at the moment.

“Most of all, my confidence is so much better, and that is because of the teachers. I have the feeling now that I am not only here to survive, but I can thrive here until I can go back to Ukraine.”

Oksana, who also has a 29-year-old son, described how she would ‘cry every day’ when she first got to the UK, and spent her time searching for news about Kharkiv, but said the course had given her hope.

“I love my country and that’s where I want to be,” she said. “My city is almost ruined, and I understand I can’t be there right now. Learning English means I can work here until it’s safe for me to go back.”

Viktoriia Mokrozub, a scientist from Kyiv, praised the standard of teaching on the summer school and said she felt more confident and less isolated.

“This is a life that we didn’t expect to have,” she said. “We are trying to build a new life here, and we need English so that we can do that.

“I have felt very welcome in the UK, and in Epsom. I’m so grateful to the teachers, and they will always be in my heart for the kindness they showed us.”

The six Nescot teachers were joined volunteers at St John’s School in Leatherhead. The school gave their premises at no cost to ensure the refugees, hosted by local families, were able to gain the skills to become part of the local community.

Nescot is a Further Education college in Ewell, Epsom, offering vocational qualifications for school-leavers and adults, as well as university-level courses, apprenticeships and distance learning.