Celebration of Learning Awards 2015

15th June 2015 Date of publication

Life-changing achievements by delighted North East learners of all ages were celebrated in Newcastle on Friday 12 June at the One Awards Celebration of Learning Awards 2015.

Keynote speaker was Dr Richard Spencer MBE, finalist at the inaugural Global Teacher of the Year and a passionate advocate of lifelong learning.

Dr Spencer had five pieces of advice for people of all ages:

  1. Make the most of your choices
  2. Find time to indulge your passions
  3. Learn something new
  4. Academic ability isn’t everything
  5. Shy bairns get nowt! 

Through the personal stories of its nominees and winners, the Celebration of Learning Awards demonstrated how learning new skills - at all ages and for all abilities – has transformed and enriched people’s lives. Excellent tutors and course providers were also recognised at the event.

Celebration of Learning Awards Winners and Highly Commended candidates
Celebration of Learning Awards Winners and Highly Commended candidates

Louise Morritt, Chief Executive Officer of One Awards says: “One Awards provides quality assured bespoke accreditation, Access to HE Diplomas and NOCN qualifications. We started the Celebration of Learning Awards in 2009 because we were so impressed at the determination, commitment and triumphs of learners of all abilities and ages over the years and we wished their achievements to be recognised. We have also recognised many of our fantastic learning providers and talented tutors who go the extra mile to inspire their students. All our nominees and winners this year will demonstrate how much of a positive difference learning has made.”

To view other images from the event please click here

Here are the results, please click on the award title for further information on the shortlisted candidates:

Commitment to Learning, sponsored by NOCN

Winner: Kathleen Fowler, Swan Lodge, Sunderland

Kath Fowler (49) from Sunderland has won the “Commitment to Learning” Award. Homeless and from a care background, Kath was withdrawn and reluctant to embark on any formal training, but tutors at Swan Lodge in Sunderland discovered she loved cooking and persuaded her to join in a baking session. Kath enjoyed it so much that within weeks she had signed up for a cookery course. She has now also completed qualifications in maths and English has a certificate in skills for employment, training and personal development. She has gained lots of new skills, mixes well with others and is eager to learn. The icing on the cake is that she’s now gained a new home.

Runner up: James Richardson, Redcar & Cleveland Adult Learning

James Richardson (23) from Saltburn by the Sea is runner up for the Commitment to Learning Award. James, who is on the autism spectrum, enrolled with Redcar Adult Learning Service in Skills for Employment and Training. Prior to this he had attended Community Learning courses but he always worked alone and was not keen on interaction. However, with gentle encouragement on this course, he started to work with others and eventually carried out a practical cookery demonstration in front of the class, something that would have been unthinkable only a few months earlier. Through learning, James has now challenged his personal obstacles and achieved tasks he thought were impossible.

Commitment to Learning (Group) sponsored by Portico
Joint winner: Tenancy Group, Swan Lodge, Sunderland

The Tenancy Group from Swan Lodge in Sunderland is a joint winner of the Commitment to Learning – Group Award for a programme which helps homeless people to cook and manage their own homes. They have so much fun on the course that visitors to the centre often ask where all the laughing is coming from!

Joint winner:Hearts and Minds Group, Cornforth Partnership, Co Durham

The Hearts and Minds Group from The Cornforth Partnership in Co Durham, is also a joint winner of the Commitment to Learning – Group Award. This group are 10 female survivors of domestic abuse who have made huge progress in their confidence and coping mechanisms. Six out of the ten are now volunteering to help others.

Life Changing Learner under 24, sponsored by TSG
Joint winner: Robyn Sterling, Sunderland College





Robyn Sterling (24), originally from Dover, but now in Sunderland, is a joint winner of the “Life Changing Learner under 24” award. Robyn always had a dream to become a children’s nurse but lacked the qualifications so left her family in Dover to enrol on an Access to Higher Education programme at Sunderland College. Her hard work and determination paid off and Robyn is now studying Children’s Nursing at university.

Joint winner: Jane Morton, The Clock, Thirsk





Jane Morton (16) from Thirsk in North Yorkshire is also a joint winner of the “Life Changing Learner under 24” award.Jane enrolled on a Skills for Employment Training and Personal Development at The Clock in Thirsk. During the course her attitude to learning changed dramatically from negative to committed and positive.She now offers support to others who felt similarly to her at the start of their programme.

Life Changing Learning 24+, sponsored by Sintons Law
Winner:Philip Taylor, Cumbria Adult Education





Philip Taylor (60) from Kendal in Cumbria has won the Life Changing Learner 24+ Award. Philip had not undertaken any paid employment for 14 years as he had been caring for his ailing mother. He was surviving on a very low income and very isolated. Philip embarked on a five week IT course with Cumbria Adult Education so he could apply for jobs both online and offline. He had help with the creation of a CV and then uploaded it onto various jobs websites, whereupon he secured a job as a carer with BUPA and is enjoying his new role. Philip can’t believe how successful he has been so quickly, his confidence has improved, and he’s getting back on track financially.

Runner up: Christopher Chicken, Sunderland College




Christopher Chicken (49) from Houghton le Spring is runner up in the Life Changing Learner 24+ Award.A self-employed builder who had been out of education for many years, he had a dream of working in healthcare career, helping people. Christopher attended Sunderland College on a “Pre-Access to Higher Education” course, then progressed to Access to Higher Education. Despite the considerable stress of running his business whilst studying, and also married with a family, Christopher went on to gain a university place in York to study Occupational Therapy. The empowerment of learning has certainly changed his life

Outstanding Provision of NOCN Learning
Winner: Northumberland CVS, Northumberland

Northumberland Community Voluntary Action in Ashington has won Outstanding Provision of (NOCN) Learning for their “Sowing the Seeds to Success” horticultural project. It was aimed at younger people 14 – 25 who were not in employment, education or training. As well as horticultural training, tree pruning and dry stone walling was also incorporated. The learners all gained a sense of pride in achieving a Level 1 Award in Horticulture but have also attained many other benefits.One student could not make eye contact and had a bad stammer at the start of the programme, and this improved hugely.He also had a severe skin condition which had improved dramatically by the end of the project. Another who had previously never shown any engagement or commitment to learning, completed the course and became “a joy to teach”.

Runner up: Catcote Futures, Hartlepool




Catcote Futures in Hartlepool is runner up for “Outstanding Provision of NOCN Learning”. The organisation develops, delivers, evaluates and evaluates learning programmes for people with learning disabilities in the Hartlepool area.It was formed in 2002 as a pilot with only four students and now has 50 mainly full-time students. Later in 2015, they will have invested about £500,000 in a new resource at Brierton which includes a purpose built bungalow to enable young people to grow their experiences and skills in a realistic setting. They have also invested in three outdoor spaces landscaped to provide a kitchen garden, sensory areas and other outdoor activity areas.

Outstanding Provision of One Awards Learning
Winner: The Cornforth Partnership, West Cornforth, Co Durham

The Cornforth Partnership in Co Durham has won “Outstanding Provision of One Awards Learning”. Set up in 1996 by residents with an aim to support the regeneration of the area it worked with 150,000 young people in 2014 alone. In 2009 the Cornforth Partnership decided to offer useful but fun learning units to the community and approached One Awards for guidance.Following a consultation, they came up with some imaginative community education programmes including a project to build hen house on their allotment, with the parents and children looking after the hens, collecting the eggs and then creating a variety of health meals from them.

Horticultural skills was another area in which the Cornforth Partnership excelled and a special programme of horticultural learning devised for disabled people was created. The programmes of learning were all quality assured and accredited by One Awards.

Runner up: Tyneside Foyer, Newcastle





Tyneside Foyer in Westgate Road, Newcastle is runner up in the “Outstanding Provision of One Awards Learning” for its provision of home support for hard to reach groups in the community including asylum seekers, learners with ESOL needs and people with learning difficulties.They offer help and assistance with housing, debt, budgeting, lone parent issues, substance misuse, mental health issues and anti-social behaviour. This project has been so successful it now runs nationally throughout the country via Home Group and its Care and Support Group, Stonham.

Learners’ Choice Award
Winner: Debbie Rewcastle from Bishop Auckland College

Tutor Debbie Rewcastle from Bishop Auckland College has won the Learner’s Choice Award.She was nominated by four different students. Phrases like “amazingly dedicated” “caring, compassionate and hard-working” “ability to reinstate confidence” “inspirational” and “fantastic mentor” crop up repeatedly in their nomination forms.Debbie has been a tower of strength to these pupils but she equally strives for excellence and demands the highest standards.Many of the students believe it was only down to her confidence in them and her constant encouragement that got them through the course. Exceptional tutors like Debbie can turn lives around and frequently do.

Runner up: Ros Jackson, Sunderland College

Ros Jackson from Sunderland is runner up in the Learner’s Choice Award. Ros is described as an “inspirational tutor” whose commitment to teaching means she organises events and visits way beyond the demands of the Access programme.

Excellence in the provision of Access to HE Diplomas
Winner: Hartlepool College of Further Education

Hartlepool College has won the “Excellence in the Provision of Access to HE Diplomas. Most of the team members were new to Access and excelled in their implementation of robust systems related to assessment, internal moderation and standardisation. This success has provided very good experiences for the students, as well as sound preparation for higher education in the future. The team has been very well managed and supported by senior members of the College staff.

Runner up: Derwentside College

Derwentside College in Consett is runner up for Excellence in the Provision of Access to HE Diplomas. They have shown year on year commitment to the improvement of their Access courses leading to an extremely well-run, high quality Access provision. The effectiveness of this good practice is evident in the quality of teaching and learning experiences for students.Compliance has been high and standards not only been maintained but improved.

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