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Celebration of Learning Awards

17th February 2020 Date of publication

Life-changing achievements by delighted North East learners of all ages were celebrated on Tuesday 12 February 2020 at the One Awards Celebration of Learning Awards 2019. The Awards recognised best practice, originality and not least, achievement within learning, focus on learners, and the people and organisations that have enabled innovative and often life-changing learning to take place in many diverse venues throughout our region and beyond.

The Winners and Highly Commended nominees were awarded at the celebratory event held at Middlesbrough Football Club,  the awards were presented by Claire Preston, Tees Valley Businesswoman of the Year. 

Outstanding Provision of One Awards Learning, Winner - Ridgeway Learning Centre

Ridgeway is a Forensic Secure In-Patient Service within TEWV NHS Trust which provides low and medium secure treatment and rehabilitation for adults with learning disabilities and mental health conditions.

Education is one of the many forms of treatment and rehabilitation provided to the nearly 200 patients within Ridgeway. One Awards fulfil the vocational accredited courses for our patients supporting recovery and service users’ progression along the vocational rehabilitation pathway.

In 2019 Ridgeway currently has a strong team of 13 staff embedded into the process, who have successfully achieved around 110 accredited certificates to nearly 100 patients over 40 different courses. 


Outstanding Provision of NOCN Learning, Winner - Gateshead Council LearningSkills

In September 2018, learningSkills were successful in gaining the contract to deliver training to the 500 volunteers for the World Transplant Games that was due to be held in the North East in August 2019.

With an extremely limited budget, and many of the volunteers living outside of the North East, designing a suitable programme was always going to be a challenge. 

After consultation with the WTG steering group, the Newcastle-Gateshead Partnership and the sponsors, we established four key elements that the volunteers would need: Customer Service Skills, Health and Safety Understanding, Equality and Diversity Awareness and Problem Solving Skills

A blended learning model was developed, with the majority of the delivery being through distance learning, would be the most effective. A dedicated website was set up for the training, and each module had an interactive PowerPoint with links to websites and legislation to highlight specific information, module booklet and question and answer facility that allowed the volunteers to understand the four key elements of their role. Each volunteer was assigned a personal tutor- and with only 3 tutors and nearly 500 volunteers it was always going to be a challenge!

All volunteers then attended an induction session that reaffirmed their knowledge and understanding of the four key elements. They designed a QR Code scanning treasure hunt which referenced the main learning points from the modules as well as bringing in some fun elements. Learners had to work in teams, interact with other volunteers that they didn’t know, develop their knowledge and understanding of the Games and improve digital skills- all key elements of their volunteering role. In total, 349 volunteers attended the induction sessions and 466 completed the learning modules.

Highly Commended - Three13 training and enterprise

Three 13 training and enterprise has developed the ‘Advance Programme’ combining valuable work experience with the opportunity to gain a NOCN Level One Award in Vocational Skills (or NOCN Level One Award in basic Construction) in just four weeks.

Working in an area of high deprivation and long term unemployment presents many challenges. They meet many local people in Job Centres and accessing support from community organisations who have complex and multiple barriers that mean they are economically inactive and struggle to connect with opportunities that don’t provide personalised support. Some have only ever been offered class-room based qualifications, when they require a more practical approach to learning. Our Advance Programme has been conceived from these conversations and designed to not simply provide a qualification for employment, but to increase the aspirations, capacities and capabilities of local people to participate in community.

Recently, one of the contracts they deliver the Advance Programme under (YEI Choosing Pathways) reported that 85% of leaners are moving into jobs during or after completing the four weeks with us.

Learners Choice Award for Tutor or Group of Tutors, Winner -  Rachel Weir and Anne Currie – The Cornforth Partnership

Rachel and Anne deliver the Hearts and Minds training programme.  The course is designed to support female survivors of Domestic Abuse to make sustained changes to their Health and Wellbeing, overcome the traumatic experiences of their past, rebuild family and peer relationships as well as developing self-coping and recovery strategies. Throughout the learning programme, they support participants to explore and share the traumatic experiences of their past and over a 10-week period support the formation of learning and friendship in structured sessions. 

They are on call for the learners should the sessions bring up issues and feelings which they need to further explore, they support learners at solicitor meetings, they attend Team around Family meetings and act as advocates for the families which are completing the programme.

In 2018 alone Rachel secured over £20,000 in funding to support learners to rebuild their lives, from having to flee abusive homes. They are the driving force behind the success of The Cornforth Partnerships support service for Female Victims of Domestic Abuse, their above and beyond professionalism is refreshing to see when dealing with such an emotive subject. 

Highly Commended - Sonia Ritchie-Park, Swan Lodge

Sonia has provided exceptional guidance and support in both the cookery course here at Swan Lodge and the Tenancy Course. 

Speaking as a resident at Swan Lodge and someone who found themselves in a very vulnerable and emotionally physical state of depression, Sonia’s kindness and support through the courses and integrating me back into groups and social situations, has been invaluable. Her knowledge is extensive and I have learned so much, not just practically but from a personal perspective. 



Collaborative Learning Awards for a Learning Group, Winner - Hearts and Minds Group, The Cornforth Partnership

The Cornforth Partnerships Hearts and Minds is emotive programme which aims to support female survivors of Domestic Abuse to make sustained changes to their Health and Wellbeing, overcome the traumatic experiences of their past, rebuild family and peer relationships as well as developing self-coping and recovery strategies.

Throughout the learning programme, participants explore and share the traumatic experiences of their past and each learning group bonds and build strong peer relationships over the same shared experiences of abuse. 

Week after week they come to sessions and embark on a journey of personal development, which involves them to openly share and discuss their experiences of abuse, and identify areas of which they need to personally develop including, confidence, stability, health and safety.

 Following on from the course, the group have continued to meet to further offer support to each other. Some of the group have also progressed onto a ‘Feel good’ course that aims to reduce stress and anxiety whilst building confidence and self esteem; demonstrating the groups commitment to learning and dedication towards moving on from traumatic times to help them build a positive, happy future. 

Highly Commended - Tenancy Achievement Group, Swan Lodge

The Tenancy Achievement Group is a group of 9 homeless individuals all with individual issues. The group have worked so hard, they have held extra revision sessions, extra cooking sessions as they all enjoyed cooking so much.

They have all helped each other throughout the course especially when a learner has had an issue or been upset or any reason.

They have all turned up with smiles on their faces and we have had so much fun on the course. They have been a joy to watch. They have been eager to do extra activities and have had fantastic outings as part of the course. Each individual has their own amazing journey story but as a group this group is extraordinary and deserve recognition.



Personal Progress Award, Winner - Adeline Reed, NE Autism Society

Adeline is originally from Namibia, and has lived in the UK for a number of years with her husband and three children. English is Adeline’s second language. Adeline began working for the North East Autism Society as a domestic, however, quickly realised she wanted to pursue a career in education. 

Adeline enrolled onto the L3 Education and Training course which she attended on an evening, considering it to be the beginning step she needed to take to assist her with gaining the knowledge she needed to start her career in education. Whilst she has found the assignment work challenging as English is her second language, she has continuously worked hard and overcome the barriers, completing her course in September.

Adeline then secured a role as a Learning Support Assistant in one of the society’s schools. She considers the course to have helped her immensely in not only securing her present role but also giving her the knowledge and skills to put the theory into practice.

Adeline considers this course to have really inspired her to continue with her ambition to become a teacher and she hopes to continue with her studies. 

Commitment to Learning Award, Winner - Jane C, Media Savvy (award was presented to Lisa Miller from Media Savvy)

Our first connection with Jane was in November 2016 when she attended a short 20 hour non accredited course with Media Savvy as an Introduction to Digital Arts and Media. Jane was is a very difficult place emotionally at that time and the artwork she created indicated some of the complex issues that she was facing.

Fast forward to 2018, Jane contacted the tutor Lisa at Media Savvy to see what courses were available for her to attend that would support her in a quest for career change. Jane completed the Level 1 and Level 2 IT User Skills courses focussing on logo creation, poster creation and video animation that could be used in shopping centres, train stations etc both as printed media and for video screens as well as on social media. Her hunger for knowledge and attention to detail were evident in her pursuit for excellence and consistency throughout the process of building a brand for the campaign. She downloaded free alternative software to enable her to complete elements at home.

Jane spoke at this years SHINE6 exhibition launch and was again incredibly selfless in telling a large part of her story and spoke about rebuilding herself and the support and ‘peace’ she remembered from her first experience with Media Savvy that encouraged her to reconnect and engage with Digital Arts and Media to build her skills whilst supporting others in the process.

Highly Commended - Gemma McIver – Hartlepool College of FE

Gemma is the definition of resilience. Throughout her completion of the Access to HE Diploma, Gemma cared for her mother as she was diagnosed with terminal cancer, she was an excellent mother to 2 young boys and underwent some personal issues in her home life; all while completing her assignments to an excellent standard and did not allow these things to hold her back on achieving her goals. She never asked for an extension, she displayed a calm and confident attitude while in lessons, and was a popular member of the group. Often she would attend lessons on an evening, after having spent the days prior at the Hospice with her mother, sleeping over and writing her assignments sat next to her. Not once did Gemma moan or complain.

At the end of programme, unfortunately Gemma’s mother lost her battle with cancer. However, Gemma knew that she would have wanted to complete her final few assignments and therefore came into college in her own time to complete these – again to a very high standard.

I believe we can all learn something from Gemma. Her resilience is second to none, her attendance despite her home life was very good, and her determination is admirable.

All tutors, look at her in awe, we are so proud of everything she has achieved. She has gained distinctions in all of her graded units and secured at place at university to complete childhood nursing. I have no doubt she will be the most amazing children’s nurse and excel at university. 

Highly Commended - Jessica O’Brien-Blair, Stockton Riverside College

Jessica started the Access to Higher Education course in the hope of progressing to university to study Operating Department Practitioner.

Jessica had previously had brain surgery, which entailed having a stent fitted to release pressure build up in her brain. Occasionally Jessica would come into college and the pressure build up was evident, blood shot eyes for example (which would also give her a headache) However despite this Jessica still continue to attend and fully engage in sessions.

At one point Jessica had to have another surgery as the shunt fitted became blocked; allowing no release of pressure build up in her brain. Jessica returned to college one week after the operation as she did not want to fall behind with any of her assignments. This demonstrated her full commitment to the course and motivation to achieve the highest grades possible.

Despite the health issues Jessica achieved distinctions in all her level 3 units which enabled her to progress onto university. She is currently studying at Teesside University.

Congratulations to all nominees on their achievements and we wish you every success in the next step of your learning journey.

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