Tom, 19 years old, joined Carshalton College in September 2014 on the Level 1 Carpentry Diploma. Tom has had a challenging time but his determination to succeed and overcome personal difficulties has led him to now be completing the Level 3 Diploma while gaining work experience with Henry Construction on the Berkeley’s site in Kingston and hoping to progress on to a job as a Workshop Assistant at the College when he finishes the diploma.


Tom’s Story

“When I was at Carshalton High School for Boys we had to think about professions we would want to get into. I decided to follow in my Dad’s footsteps as a boxer but I broke my collar bone and could not continue in a sport direction. My dad also had experience in the music and construction industries and started to suggest different jobs that I could get into.


One of the suggestions was Carpentry. I thought this was literally fitting carpets in people’s houses, which sounded easy so when it came to choosing a course at school, I chose Carpentry. It was the complete opposite to what I expected and from the moment I started the course I wanted to choose something else, to learn something easy. I was good at giving up and taking the easy way out, but I had to start growing up very quickly because of my home life. From the experiences I had I realised I needed to make changes.


From the experience I had learnt on the Carpentry course at school, I enrolled on the Carpentry Diploma at Carshalton College.  Taking this course was one of the best decisions I have made.


The Level 1 Diploma was hard, I joined the course with so much negativity.  I started making up excuses to why I wasn’t attending College as I didn’t enjoy being there. My attendance record dropped low enough that my tutor Daren Hull assessed if they would progress me to the Level 2 Diploma.


I decided I needed to talk to someone at College to get help and support to complete the course. Lisa Jones from the Student Support Team helped me a lot in being about to talk through and explain things. In the past I had been to many counselling sessions but Lisa helped me more than the Professionals did.


Lisa explained my situation to Daren and I am so grateful as with their help I progressed to the Level 2 Diploma. With Daren’s support, I was doing well but fell back into the same cycle of making up excuses to miss college. Daren made it easy by being supportive, making the lessons enjoyable and at the end of the Diploma I had the confidence to gain work experience with a carpenter who helped me develop more skills which I took back to my practical lessons. I was proud of myself when I achieved my results and stuck at the course until the end. On finding out I was going to become a dad, I became determined to pursue a career in Carpentry, and progressed onto the Level 3 Diploma.


Now this is where I am, on the Level 3 Diploma which I couldn’t enjoy more. I am on 100% attendance and it will be staying that way until the very end. I am learning more, and moving onto the more complex sides of carpentry, such a roofing, dormers, being able to hang and rebate a pair of doors and with many more tasks to come. I now look forward to coming to College, enjoying every minute of each lesson. I am still dealing with my home life situation which is a struggle but College is one place I don’t have to deal with it. I have a tutor that everyone gets along with and friends that I will be keeping in touch with for many years to come.


While at College, there was a job opportunity to work onsite for Henry Construction on the Berkeley’s site in Kingston. I am enjoying this role as its expanding my experience and knowledge for the future, also at the end of the course Daren has been pushing me to take on the level 2 workshop assistant job at the College, which if I get the chance to I will as again its more experience and something I would like to do.


Once I feel I have gained enough experience and confidence, I am thinking of either going to university to study architecture or joining the army to gain a NVQ within carpentry, before college I didn’t think I would have been doing this, nor thinking of going to university, but I had the correct support and understanding of teachers which helped a lot.”


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