ESOL Stepping Up (English Language for 16 – 19 year olds)

Colchester Institute English Language department was established over 40 years ago and aims to provide a welcoming environment for all. All learners are encouraged to realize their full potential and every individual is valued and offered an equal opportunity to progress. Our classes have a mix of students from different backgrounds and ages, ensuring that the lessons are a multi-cultural learning experience. The English language department was named a Centre of Excellence by the EL Gazette in 2013.

Course Info
How to make an Application

First set up in 2008, the Stepping Up ESOL Study Programme is specifically designed for 16 – 19 year old students whose first language is not English and it is delivered at six levels from Pre-Entry to Level 2. While the main focus is English (ESOL), students also study Functional Skills Maths and ICT, ‘Personal and Social Development’ (including aspects of citizenship) and Employability/Work/Study Skills.

A wide variety of enrichment activities are offered and students also prepare for starting other vocational courses, progressing to Higher Education or going into employment. Occasionally, under 18 students may be in a class with some adult students (19+) but they will welcome you and help with your studies.

How will I learn?

Students will develop all aspects of their English, including grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation and the four skills (reading, writing, speaking, listening), working in pairs & small groups to develop fluency. Students will have regular progress tests throughout their studies and will have individual tutorials with their tutor to discuss their learning and development. Students are expected to complete homework every week and will be prepared for their exams, (most of which are compulsory).

When are the classes?     

There are 16 hours of classes per week taught over 3 or 4 days.

What level of English will I study?     

Before you start a class, you will be invited to college to take a language placement test. The test will show us your level of English. You will be offered a place in the class which best suits you:

Pre-Entry Level, Entry 1, Entry 2, Entry 3, Level 1 or Level 2.

No formal qualifications are needed before starting the course.

Additional Information

What exams will I take?    

Students are prepared for nationally recognised Trinity ESOL Skills for Life examinations. The exams are offered at five different levels:  Entry 1, Entry 2, Entry 3, Level 1 and Level 2.

Additional costs for your studies

Students will need a pen, pencil, paper, writing notebook and folder.

How much will the course cost?

The course is free of charge to students who are 16 – 18 years old at the start of the academic year and who are assessed as eligible for home fees.  Some students can also claim a weekly college bursary fund to help with course-related costs and travel.

Entry Requirements

This programme is for students whose first language is not English. There are no formal entry requirements for this programme, just the desire to improve your skills for progression on to another programme.

Information for Under 18’s

Many students at Colchester Institute are under 18. In the English Language department, we have a mixture: some students are under 18 and some are adults. You may be in a class with some adult students. They will welcome you and help you with your studies. Your teachers will also work hard to keep you safe.

Commitment to Safeguarding

Colchester Institute believes the health and safety of all our students is important. All of the English Language staff are trained to help keep students safe, happy and healthy in college.

Well-being and keeping safe

Bullying [using words or actions to make someone feel bad] is not allowed in the college. The College is committed to making our classes a place where all students are respected and where bullying is not allowed. If a student has a problem or complaint, we will listen to them and work to solve the problem quickly and fairly.

What should I do if I have a problem?

If a student has a problem or complaint they should speak to their teacher or the Student Services Welfare Team.

We hope you will enjoy your studies with us and that you will always feel safe and happy to study here.

Course Progression

While Stepping Up study programmes provide a range of general skills, further study on a specific vocational course is advised. As a well-established course, progression onto vocational courses from Stepping Up has, in recent years, included business, IT, construction, engineering, music technology, catering, hair and beauty, health and social care, art and design, sports studies, accountancy and photography.

What our learners say

What our learners say about us

Alexandra Radita
(from Romania)

We were like a family and we supported each other. I feel very bad now that I have finished and I wish I could go right back to the very first day to start again

Hannan Seid
(from Ethiopia)

I have improved a lot since I started ESOL and it’s with your help I have come so far. Thank you very much

Applications for September 2023 open now!

The application window for full-time courses and joint apprenticeship applications opened on Monday 3rd October at 12pm.

Before submitting your online application, make sure you have got an email address which you will check frequently and which is professional and appropriate for this purpose, and use this when you create your account. Submit the application as early as possible and remember to make a note of your USERNAME and PASSWORD details! You will need these later.

We have prepared a step-by-step video guide below – please view this video which will guide you through the application process.

Application Do's and Don'ts

Application Tips

If you have chosen the study programme you would like to apply for then you are almost there. We recommend that you read our handy application tips, watch our video and then make your application.

You can only apply for one full-time programme and one apprenticeship. You can do this together within the same application form, in what is known as a joint application.

Remember, you cannot study more than one core subject.  For example, you would not be able to study two full-time programmes in different subjects simultaneously. You would take Plumbing or Music, not Plumbing and Music.

Your subject will be your primary qualification and forms the bulk of your programme of study.

Application Dos

  • Apply as early as possible. We want to make sure you have the best chance of securing a place with us. All full-time applications received by the 31st of January 2023 will be guaranteed a place at Colchester Institute, subject to you satisfying the published entry requirements. We still accept applications after this date but may not be able to guarantee you a place on your chosen programme.
  • Think carefully about your course choice before you apply. Talk to your head of year or careers adviser at school to make sure you have explored all your options and have found a course that suits you best. You may wish to attend one of our open days to find out more before applying.
  • Make sure you attend any interviews or assessments we invite you to. These are a mandatory part of our process. They give you the opportunity to find out more about our courses, as well as allowing us to make sure you are on the most appropriate course for you. Some courses may invite you to attend a second interview or audition to demonstrate your skills and to ensure you are on the most appropriate level for you.
  • Please let us know if your contact details or address change. We will use a variety of letters, emails and texts to communicate with you throughout the process, and the information we provide is both confidential and vital to your application. If you move home or change your phone number and don’t inform us of any changes, you could miss some vital information.

Application Don’ts

  • Do not make multiple applications. If you are unsure, for example, of which construction/trade subject you would like to study, please only make an application for one of them. Likewise, if you later wish you had applied for a different course, please don’t worry – we can change your application. Whatever the reason for wanting to change, there is no need to make another application.
  • Do not use a school email address when you create your account. Remember, you will need to access this account later in the summer after you have left school.
  • Do not create another account if you have previously applied. If you have applied in previous years, please do not create a new account. If you are unsure, contact us to check which username and password to use.

Just call us on 01206 712777

Stepping Up (English Language for 16 – 19 year olds)
LevelEntry Level
Level 1
Level 2
DurationOne-year course
Study ModeFull-Time
Campus / Adult Skills CentreColchester Campus
Start DateSeptember 2023
ApplicationsApplications opened on Monday 3rd October 2022
Attendance16 hours per week spread over 4 days
Fee(s)16-19 year olds study programme only: Free


All fees, prices and funding information shown on this page are for courses starting in the 2022-23 academic year unless stated otherwise, and are correct at the time of entering/printing information, however these may be subject to change due to factors outside of our control. The College cannot accept legal or financial liability as a result of any such changes.

Courses fees are generally not confirmed for September until June / July due to the above factors.

The course information describes programmes offered by Colchester Institute. The College takes all reasonable steps to provide courses as described, but cannot guarantee provision. The information is for guidance and does not form any part of a contract.

The College reserves the right to update and amend information as and when necessary. Colchester Institute will do its best to provide the courses shown, but may have to modify or withdraw a course depending on customer demand and other factors.