Hello to Teaching, Goodbye Mr Chips; Jobs & New Directions: Andy Swaps a Lifetime Behind Earlsdon Fryer to Fulfil Ambition as English Teacher

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Byline: By CAROLINE PRICHARD for the Learning and Skills Council Coventry and Warwickshire

FORMER chip shop owner Andy Gabriel has sold his share in his family's successful city business to teach English to foreign students.

The 48-year-old dad from Cannon Park Road, Coventry, had been running the chip shop, Gabriels in Earlsdon Street, with his brother George for nearly 25 years but has now finally decided to follow his yearning to teach adults.

He said: "I really enjoy this kind of work. My father left Cyprus when he was 17 with very little English - so I have real empathy with these people.

"Maybe I should have done this a few years ago but even now at my age, it's never too late. I am full of enthusiasm and relishing the new challenge ahead. It was a big decision to make - I had well-paid work and now, while I train, I am not earning anything, but I am doing voluntary and support work and I hope to get noticed."

Andy had left school with no qualifications and worked in a couple of shops until he joined the family business in 1973. He had wanted to be a footballer but didn't make the grade for his beloved Coventry City so spent many years as an FA coach running local football teams for adults and youngsters at the same time as running the chip shop.

Since April he has been studying the Open Studies Certificate in Post Compulsory Education and Training (Cert-Ed) at Tile Hill Centre, City College, which he will complete in 2006, and Step into ESOL Teaching (ESOL - English for Speakers of Other Languages) at the Essential Skills Professional Development and Resources Centre (Essential Skills Centre) at Warwick University, funded by the Learning and Skills Centre (LSC) Coventry and Warwickshire.

Andy has spent the past four or five years studying courses in IT and essential skills as well as passing the City and Guilds 730 Stages 1 and 2 teaching qualification while he ran his business. He is now teaching ESOL alongside a mentor at the Refugee Centre in Coventry.

He aims to go in to full-time teaching in September. …