4 November 2020

Learning and Work Institute has announced its Festival of Learning award winners for 2020. The 12 winners, revealed at an online awards ceremony, include inspiring stories of adult learners, as well as outstanding adult learning provision, tutors and employers.

Festival of Learning – England’s biggest celebration of lifelong learning – is now in its 28th year. It is supported by Department for Education, NOCN, ETF, Skills and Education Group, City Lit and WEA. The Patron’s Award winner is chosen by Learning and Work Institute’s Patron, HRH The Princess Royal. All of this year’s winners show the power of learning to transform and enrich people’s lives.

The winners are:

Hannah Wilkins, a mother from Wiltshire, who having left school age 13 due to bullying, has gone on to complete over 20 different courses in order to create a better future for her children, has been selected by HRH The Princess Royal to receive the Patron’s Award.

Positive People, an innovative and extensive partnership project led by social enterprise Pluss offering a learning lifeline to the most socially excluded and vulnerable people in society, has been awarded the President’s Award.

Brandon Layton, an inspirational young man from Derwentside has been awarded the Outstanding Individual Award. Brandon was diagnosed with Autism and although he attended a specialist school, as a teenager he found his educational choices and potential were limited. Studying at Derwentside College has transformed Brandon’s life and his academic and career prospects.

Health and Wellbeing Programme, a project set up by Waltham Forest Adult Learning Service in partnership with Waltham Forest Social Prescribing, have been awarded the Learning for Health Award. This project has set up a range of creative learning courses as part of a holistic approach to improve health, wellbeing and social welfare.

National Crime Agency, has been recognised with the Employer Award, supported by NOCN. Their Initial Operational Training Programme delivers intelligence and investigation training through an accredited flexible learning and development framework. The programme provides learners with knowledge, skills and experience to be at the forefront of fighting serious and organised crime.

Evripides Evriviades, from Derby, has won the Tutor Award, supported by ETF. Teaching English and maths from entry level through to level 2, his innovative, creative and functional lessons have supported many vulnerable and marginalised people to reach their potential and surpass their own expectations.

Paul Barnsley, a police inspector from Warwickshire, received the Learning for Work Award, supported by NOCN. After attending a course to further understand mental health while being signed off work, Paul could see the direct relevance to his work as a police inspector with Warwickshire Police and has since helped to set up a number of new workplace initiatives to make the force more inclusive.

Laura Dunn-Green (pictured below), from Peterborough, overcame severe anxiety by taking part in a Health and Social Care course run by City College Peterborough at a local care home. She has won the New Directions Award, supported by Skills and Education Group, after discovering her passion for caring for others, and embarking on a new career as a healthcare assistant.

Rubi Naz, from Tameside, has won the English Language Learning Award. Motivated by a desire to support her son who was born with various medical conditions and who has special educational needs, Rubi enrolled at Tameside Adult and Community Education to learn English. She is now supporting others in her community to improve their English.

Motiv8, a project delivered by a partnership of social housing providers, led by Jigsaw Group, has received the Project Award. The projectworks with the most disadvantaged and vulnerable residents in Greater Manchester to help them overcome deep-rooted barriers to employment.

Liz Collins, from Islington,has won the Return to Learning Award, supported by City Lit. Liz’s experience of education as a child was traumatic, but she took a leap of faith and enrolled on an Introduction to Adult Social Care course with Islington Adult Community Learning. She is now thriving in her new job as a support worker.

Phil Branigan, a volunteer Digital Champion with Clarion Housing in Basingstoke, has been awarded the Social Impact Award, supported by WEA. Phil runs a regular computer drop-in session at a sheltered housing scheme for the over 55s and provides peer support to other volunteers through the Digital Unite online forum.

Stephen Evans, Chief Executive of Learning and Work Institute, said:

“Lifelong learning has so many benefits. It can help people into work or climb the career ladder. Learning can help you make new friends or be active in your community. It can help to improve health and wellbeing. The pandemic intensifies the importance of lifelong learning, but after a decade of cuts too many people miss out with stark inequalities across the country.

“Our award winners, announced during our first Lifelong Learning Week, show just how powerful learning can be and the difference that great tutors and learning providers can make. I hope their stories help to inspire others to go into learning, and make the case for a renewed commitment to  - and investment in – lifelong learning.”

Gillian Keegan, Minister for Apprenticeships and Skills, said:

“I’d like to congratulate all of this year’s Festival of Learning award winners and finalists. These awards recognise outstanding adult learners and showcase the potential of learning to transform people's lives. I hope their stories inspire and motivate others to kickstart their own learning journeys.

"We are committed to building back better after the pandemic, and lifelong learning will play a vital role in our recovery. Whether it’s by using The Skills Toolkit to gain digital and numeracy skills, or through our new lifelong learning guarantee, we want as many people as possible to be able to gain the skills and confidence they need to progress in work and achieve their potential."

Paul Eeles, Chief Executive of the Skills and Education Group, said:

"Congratulations to the Festival of Learning award winners and finalists from all of us at the Skills and Education Group. The awards highlight so many heart-warming examples of how learning makes a positive impact on people's chances in life, and it was our pleasure to support the Festival again this year.

"I would also like to give a special mention to Laura Dunn-Green, winner of the New Directions Award which we have sponsored this year. Her story of how enrolling on a Health and Social Care course helped her to overcome her anxiety and find purpose working as a healthcare assistant is truly inspiring. Congratulations, Laura, your award win is thoroughly well-deserved."

To read Laura's story, click here. You can also read the stories of all of the 2020 award winners here.

Thank you to the Learning and Work Institute for this news story. If you would like to share a news story from your organisation, we’d love to hear from you. Email us at media@skillsedugroup.co.uk