A mother bullied out of school aged 13, and an agency which fights serious and organised crime nationwide are among those recognised at this year’s Festival of Learning awards. 

The awards, run by the Learning and Work Institute (LWI), recognise the inspiring stories of adult learners, and top-notch adult learning providers, tutors and employers. 

Skills minister Gillian Keegan congratulated all 12 winners, saying she hopes their stories “inspire and motivate others to kickstart their own learning journeys”. 

One such winner is Wiltshire mother Hannah Wilkins, chosen by LWI’s patron Princess Anne for the Patron’s Award, who completed over 20 different courses after being bullied out of school at the age of 13. 

The winner of the President’s Award, chosen by LWI president and former Department for Education director-general of lifelong learning Nick Stuart, was Positive People.  

A partnership of organisations run by social enterprise Pluss, Positive People helps unemployed adults in the south west, with a sister programme in west Yorkshire, develop life skills in areas such as digital technology. 

Brandon Layton has won this year’s Outstanding Individual award, as having found his education and potential were limited as an autistic teenager attending a specialist school, the judges said he transformed his life and his academic and career prospects at Derwentside College. 

The Learning for Health award has been won by Waltham Forest Adult Learning Service’s health and wellbeing programme. The project has created a range of creative learning courses focused on improving health, wellbeing and social welfare.  

The Employer award, supported by awarding organisation NOCN, has been won by the National Crime Agency, the body responsible for fighting serious and organised crime in the UK. 

The law enforcement organisation was recognised for their initial operational training programme, which provides learners with the knowledge, skills and experience to help fight crime through accredited flexible learning. 

Derby-based Evripides Evriviades has won the Tutor award, which is supported by the Education and Training Foundation. Evriviades has supported many vulnerable and marginalised people through “innovative, creative and functional” English and maths lessons, from entry to level 2. 

Warwickshire Police Inspector Paul Barnsley received the Learning for Work award, also supported by NOCN, after taking to his heart a course with North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire on understanding mental health while signed off work. He has since set up a number of new workplace initiatives to make the force more inclusive. 

Laura Dunn-Green overcame severe anxiety by taking part in a health and social care course run by City College Peterborough at a local care home and has now embarked on a career as a healthcare assistant, winning her this year’s New Directions award, supported by the Skills and Education Group. 

Rubi Naz has won the English Language Learning Award after having been motivated by her son, who was born with various medical conditions and has special education needs, to enrol at Tameside Adult and Community Learning Education to learn English. She is now supporting others in her community to improve theirs. 

A project delivered by social housing providers, Motiv8, has received the Project award for helping disadvantaged and vulnerable Greater Manchester adults access housing and benefits, as well as employment through CV and job-searching help. 

The Return to Learning Award, supported by adult education provider City Lit, has gone to Liz Collins, who, following a “traumatic” experience of education as a child, enrolled on an Introduction to Adult Social Care course with Islington Adult Community Learning and is now a support worker. 

The social impact award, supported by adult learning provider the WEA, has been awarded to a volunteer digital champion Phil Branigan, for running regular computer drop-in sessions at a sheltered housing scheme and supporting other volunteers through an online forum. 

Learning and Work Institute chief executive Stephen Evans said the winners of the awards, which are being held during England’s 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.” 

The awards ceremony is being broadcast live on LWI’s YouTube and Facebook pages from 6pm this evening. 

The full list of winners:

  • Hannah Wilkins – Patron’s Award.
  • Positive People – President’s Award.
  • Brandon Layton – Outstanding Individual Award
  • Health and Wellbeing Programme – Learning for Health Award
  • National Crime Agency – Employer Award
  • Evripides Evriviades – Tutor Award
  • Paul Barnsley – Learning for Work Award
  • Laura Dunn-Green – New Directions Award
  • Rubi Naz – English Language Learning Award
  • Motiv8 – Project Award
  • Liz Collins – Return to Learning Award
  • Phil Branigan – Social Impact Award

Top image caption: Front row – Hannah Wilkins, Evripides Evriviades, Brandon Layton, Health and wellbeing programme.

Second row – Laura Dunn-Green, Motiv8, Liz Collins, Paul Barnsley

Third row – National Crime Agency, Positive People Programme, Phil Branigan, Rubi Naz

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