Ricky, aged 19, is on an Entry to Employment catering course. He has taken part in the ALLEGRO sub-project, ‘Français à la Cuisine.’ This is what Ricky said.
‘I was in the top set for French at school but I was usually sent outside for cheeking the teacher. I didn’t go to school much after I was fourteen, so I didn’t pass any exams. I’ve had a few problems with the police, nothing serious really, and anyway I think they pick on young lads in this part of Nottingham.
I couldn’t get a job, except for collecting supermarket trolleys, and there’s no money in that.’
‘The E2E course isn’t bad – you get paid if you attend regularly. I like cooking and the other parts – numeracy, literacy and IT – are easy. My girlfriend, Leanne, is on the same course. We’ve got a little boy called Damon, who’s 18 months old, but Leanne’s mum looks after him while we’re here. My main problems are not losing my temper with people and getting here on time, because Damon often gets us up at night. Gail [the Trainer] has really helped me calm down and get into learning.
‘I’ve enjoyed the French – I was surprised how much I could remember from school. But this is quite different - Jenny asks us what we would like to learn and teaches us stuff that would be useful in a restaurant. At school it was all, ‘I have a hamster. He is black,’ that sort of thing. She’s OK with the cooking too – she showed me how to make ‘Poulet à la Française’. Before I thought the French were tossers and ate mainly snails, but she’s told us all about when she lived there and it sounds quite normal really. I often won the quizzes we did with Jenny, so I think I’m quite good at languages.’
‘I’m just starting an NVQ course and I hope to get some proper catering qualifications. I’d like to work in a hotel and French would be really useful for menus and recipes. Then we’d be able to save up for a flat of our own.
I hope Damon will do better at school than me. I’ll help him with his schoolwork. Perhaps we’ll take him to Disneyland Paris and go up the Eiffel Tower.’
‘Ricky is very intelligent. He was pretty wild when he started coming here, but he’s calmed down since he’s been a dad. He’s quite insecure under all the bravado, so being able to ‘shine’ at French helped his self-confidence.’