Newsletter: January 2020


Introduction with Naima Elmansouri, Head of Vocational Training 

‘This year for Digital Media Production we have introduced 2 new elements to our courses and have added brand new areas of learning to our curriculum. We also introduced a new Software Development course. Learners are taught Block programming using Minecraft, Python, and SDLC as new topics. 
We are introducing Unity software game design and 3D design & modeling to our programme to develop  their entry point skills in these areas. 
We are also introducing Software development Level 2 intermediate Python, Modelling (agile), Java  programming and Presentation methods (app in a day).
Our Software/Web Design and Development courses are contemporary, up to date to current industry standards and requirements. As the demand for web design & development in the job sector continues to grow, hence we strongly believe more and more students will benefit from these courses.'   

Find out more from our latest newsletter!

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ELATT’s Early Years - The founding of THATT


Charles Buxton was one of the original founders of Tower Hamlets Advanced Technology Training (THATT), Whitechapel in 1984 which later became ELATT. He also was part of the team that renovated the Davenant Centre which was one of THATT’s early locations. He left in 1995 to work for VSO and in 2002 moved to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan to work for Intrac where he still lives. He recently published his book Ragged Trouser NGOs which includes a chapter on the creation of THATT and its first ten years. In Summer 2019 Charles visited ELATT and met some of the current team. Here is his interview with Catherine O’Shea ELATT’s Communications Officer. 

Charles Buxton Interview

You were part of the team that founded THATT in 1984. Where did the initial idea come from? 

The idea for THATT came from really two directions, one was from the new regime at the GLC which was trying to look at anything that would be progressive and for the benefit of Londoners. They were looking for things that responded to equal opportunities. And the second part of the direction was from the Tower Hamlets Trades Council who in previous years had been very much involved in questions around employment and unemployment and they created a subcommittee on employment and vocational training. At that time everyone was concerned about the quality or lack of quality of some of the government training schemes and that the trade unions were not being consulted as much on training policy. 

The people who were involved in this sub-committee were involved in setting up THATT which then became a kind of training project to respond to the ideas from the trade union on one hand and the new GLC and the other.  

I read that on the final day of the GLC you were given the money to set up the Davenant Centre

The money for THATT came through earlier and we were grateful for the help from the Greater London Training Board in that first year. I was the development worker for the working group so I got a little bit of money to work on it a few days a week, and then suddenly we got 10 staff and started with 25 trainees. That was a big budget for full time training and the GLC helped us because the European money always came in late. The first year the GLC paid the money up front and then we paid them back later when the money from the EU came through. 

THATT came through and we were very much helped by the GLC, but the other project, the Davenant Centre, was quite important as well. At the same time as doing the development work for THATT, I was also working on the Davenant Centre as well, and that one came through much later because there were all these architectural issues and plans to be sorted out. We got that cheque on the eve of the abolition of the GLC and then we were landed with a big problem because the people who had sponsored that renovation project then went out of business and we went over budget which is quite normal. You know we had no extra money for the overspend.  

Was the plan always that THATT would be one of the organisations in the Davenant Centre? 

Yes, because the Davenant Centre was set up as a consortium and that was written into the constitution, so there were 5 or 6 organisations each of which sent two people to the management committee and there wasn’t any provision for new members. We did that later when 3 or 4 of the original groups couldn’t take up paid space and we filled them with people who paid, but they didn’t become members of the management committee.  

Who were the students in the initial classes of THATT? 

The students were a great group and, as it says in the book, they helped us to develop the centre physically, testing out the equipment, setting up the library, taking on the cleaning. People were collectively joined up with the National Union of Students. We met every week for a meeting. And one of the things I remember is that we had 3 students with quite significant disabilities and taking them on was a considerable statement about wanting to include people with disabilities. They really got something out of it and they put something in as well.  

The trainers in many cases were new to training in general. They might have known about computers or electronics and in general the students were very constructive.

That’s mirrored in what we do now where we have volunteer students helping in every part of ELATT. So many of the core principles of ELATT were there in what you describe in the book. It particularly struck me that the requirement for 50% women and 50% BAME staff was built into the original plan.  

I think that was a very important thing and it was a political decision. We were very aware of issues around race and gender. A lot of people came from the community side, and then there were people from the technical side but not on the management committee. The management committee was very dominated by community and political issues. At that time, we were reluctant to have employer reps although we did get them over time. While I was there, there weren’t so many employers involved. We never had a problem getting women and BAME people involved and we quickly became known in the network for that. And nor did we join in the government schemes you would take people with the highest qualifications. We interviewed for positions at ELATT but it wasn’t just on the basis of a CV. We employed people if they were around about the right level and showed interest. 

 What kind of jobs did students go onto do? 

The majority of people were going into office work. We had foreseen micro-electronics from the start but that was a bit more difficult. A lot of the women went into further education, our women into technology course was a route into polytechnic and university courses. The majority went into computer and office type work. Having been in a training scheme for a year they had more confidence and recent experience of communicating and coming into a job every day. THATT services also helped a lot because they began to do different database jobs for public and private employers and so made contacts for our trainees.

Was ESOL teaching a specific part of the provision? 

English and maths, including ESOL was there from the start, it was part of the philosophy. All the needs of trainees and basic educational qualifications are important for everyone and it was quite surprising how many of the people who came forward didn’t have English or maths GCSEs. It was a really important part of the project that from September to July you could do a course and in that time gain GCSEs. A lot of the people at that time really felt a lack. And then the English classes became very important for discussions of all times. And there were also students from refugee communities who couldn’t go for the GCSE straight away so they did an ESOL course. We had a lot of part time teachers from the Further Education sector. There was just one coordinator on a full-time salary and the other teachers were all hourly paid.  

We tried to keep things connected, for example our English language teachers became very expert in technical language. 

What did you learn about management in that time as a coordinator? 

When I started developing the project for THATT I was just 31 or 32 years old. I think the essence of it was that we did have a very committed set of staff and that we were able to work as a collective, the workers management group were able to take on a range of tasks and it was a very satisfying experience. We had to run the management committee, we had to run the budgeting. We had to set up a staff management system and an appraisal system.  

We were very lucky we had such a committed committee and I had such strong support from them. That helped a lot. We also had two or three rounds of consultants coming in and helping us, promoted by some of the government schemes, reconstruction schemes who wanted us to become more business-like.  

How does ELATT compare to what you imagined? 

When I first came back to ELATT and it was on Kingsland Road I thought that that was great. What a great place to be and being able to make renovations. I was impressed by the advancements that Anthony and the team had made with the help of Matthew Wintersgill. We had moved around different centres and never owned so that was a big step forward. 

It has a great future, the technological and employment sector is very much in demand will be. The problems of competing for jobs especially in more advanced industries, it’s an area of needs and opportunities where ELATT can play a big role in giving people the qualifications they need, the technical skills and the confidence to get those jobs.


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Sopra Steria Welcomes ELATT


On Monday 14 January Sopra Steria Graduates will take part in a Tech for Good hackathon for our London charity partner, ELATT. In a day-long hackathon event, our grads will work in teams with Sopra Steria coaches to create solutions to one of ELATT’s critical business challenges. At the end of the day, the best ideas will be selected by the senior team from ELATT, and the charity plans to implement the solution or solutions that best meet their needs.

This event is co-sponsored by the Early Careers, Community, and Digital Innovation teams, and is part of our Tech for Good Programme, which is focused on using our digital, technology and business expertise to create positive impacts in the world.  It is also an important part of our hands-on, impact-focused approach to learning and development in our Graduate Programme.

ELATT is an award-winning digital skills training college offering opportunities for learning and qualifications to under-served people, helping them get the skills they need to succeed in the workplace.

Anthony Harmer, CEO of ELATT, said,
‘As an education charity with big ideas but limited resources, this Hackathon provides us with an invaluable opportunity to draw on the insight and expertise in the Sopra Steria team to help us improve our services for our students and turn our ambitions into reality.’

Kaila Yates, Sopra Steria Chief Marketing Officer and board sponsor of our Community Programme said,
‘We know that digital technologies are transforming organisations every day.  We believe that our charitable partners like ELATT will be able to do more with digital, and helping them make a difference for their students and the London communities they serve is an exciting opportunity for us and a great example of our Tech for Good programme.’

For more information, have a look at the original blog on Sopra Steria's website:

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How mentoring can support your learning at ELATT


“ELATT is a place that motivates you to achieve your goals. The staff are always happy to help you.” 

Sheldon’s experience of helpful tutors and mentoring during his studies shows our dedication to students getting first-rate support; that’s why our tutors are among the only 5% who received Grade 1 (outstanding) at our last Ofsted inspection and are here to support you through your studies. 

Martina also turned to her mentor when a challenge arose, and a solution could be found that allowed her to both work and make it through her course successfully. “I got a job and thought I would have to stop the course as my shift pattern fell on my study day. My advisor said I could continue with the course and arranged for me to have support on my days off to cover the course and class hours.” 

Starting a course or developing your skills is a process of discovery and is, often, a struggle. It may be that mentors lending you a hearing ear or advising you during your studies is just what you need to get support and complete your course successfully.

Meet Oran

“I believe it is important to understand what is going on for our learners, in all aspects of their life, to help them to achieve. This is why our provision is so successful”. Oran is here to mentor students or provide coaching when they need it, and has been doing so for 15 years, 5 of which have been at ELATT. He has qualifications in counselling for both young people and adults, has trained in coaching and mentoring, and is currently training as a SENCO.

Whether you need information on how to improve your practical life circumstances, coaching sessions or solutions for learning challenges, Oran is here for you. He offers one-to-one sessions to find the tailored support you will need to complete your course to the best of your ability.

Although it can be a challenge to find the time to study, if you want to get ahead in your career or change direction, we are here to help you find ways to balance your life commitments.

Ask Janet about your options

Martina’s advice as a student is to “talk to one of the advisors to get out of the negative place you may be in. The services can give you a wider knowledge of all the different resources, help and advice out there.”

Speak to Janet and she can advise on your choice of courses and the support you may need to take that next step. Feel free to set up a one-to-one meeting with her to discuss your options in more detail. 

Call Janet

Don’t just take our word for it, hear from our graduates:

Fundamentally, our students graduate thinking differently about themselves and their future.

"Instead of saying I was too old, ELATT helped and encouraged me every step of the way..."
Mike, Marketing Strategist

"I don't think I would be where I am today if ELATT hadn't helped me take those first steps..."
Frankie, Game Designer

 "ELATT gave me the confidence and new technical skills that were so valuable to me for my studies and at work..."
Charles, IT Manager

ELATT is a community created by students who take the lead with their future. Let us help you develop your skills and potential that will get you where you want to be.

Join our learning community today.

Browse our courses


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Taking up a new course can feel like a big step at first. We're here to help you through it.

Where to get the support you need

“When I first came to ELATT I was in a dark place. I didn’t realise that there was so much support available to me.”
Although taking up a new course can feel like a big step at first, as Martina suggests, there is support that you can help you get there. It can be a challenge to know where to look for the support you need so that you can take the next step in your education and career. We can help with that. In just one free meeting with our Student Support Coordinator, Janet, you can be guided to identify the various sources of help and support available to you so that you can focus on your development.

Whether you are looking for financial help with traveling to and from your classes with us, need child support, to work around your job Centre check-in times, or if you just need some advice on which course to study, we are here to listen and point out some of the options you have that enable you to start studying.

Call Janet for advice!

Just call and set a personal meeting to talk to Janet about your options and you’re on your way to taking your next step.


“I wasn’t able to see the skills I had, and through ELATT's support I feel more confident and my future is so much brighter.”
Martina’s study experience with us reflects how a personal difficulty can be turned around to build on your strengths with the right support. At ELATT, you do not only have the opportunity to gain educational qualifications to improve your employability. Our approachable staff, with their own diverse backgrounds and experiences, give you one-to-one mentoring to help you find what you need within the large pool of services offered by different organisations.

Ask Janet!

Martina’s advice as a student is to “talk to one of their advisors to get out of the negative place you may be in. The services can give you a wider knowledge of all the different resources, help and advice out there.”

Worrying about the level of English language, or whether you are eligible to study with us? Not sure if your qualifications allow you to study with us? Wondering how you will pay for your travel to your studies or day care for your children?

Call to set a free, one-to-one meeting with Janet, and she will gladly share some of the solutions that exist in your situation to empower you to take the next step in your career.

Call Janet for advice!

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