Winners of the WEA 2019 Educational Impact Awards revealed

Refugees who achieved their qualifications after fleeing thousands of miles from their home nations are among the 11 winners of the WEA 2019 Educational Impact Awards.

The awards, which took place this evening, recognise learners, tutors, volunteers, partners and staff from across the nation who have “transformed their own lives and the lives of others through lifelong learning”.

Such as ten refugees and asylum seekers who completed their qualifications after fleeing from Eritrea, Sudan, Yemen and Iraq and have now won the outstanding student group for Science for ESOL Glasgow.

Seven of them gained SCQF level 4 and three gained a certificate of participation during their resettlement process, which the WEA says “gives inspiration to ESOL students across the country that there are different pathways available”.

The WEA’s deputy chief executive Jo Cain gave her congratulations to the winners, saying they are a “fantastic example of how adult education benefits individuals, their families and the communities they live in”.

She added that the awards “are a great way to recognise the impact of adult education”.

The winner of the Olive Cordell foundation student award, learner Hava Cil, has been accepted to study PGCE maths at the University of Oxford after moving from Turkey and studying with the WEA to improve her English.

The outstanding regional partner award has gone to the Dolphin Women’s Centre for providing local women in Washwood Heath – one of Birmingham’s most deprived wards – with creative courses and training and educational courses to support employment.

For his inspiring work teaching art classes to students with varied needs including students with MS, dementia and with mental health needs, Frank Ferrie was presented with the award for outstanding tutor.

Cathy Kirk took home the Olive Cordell foundation tutor award for her efforts with an intensive ESOL programme with the WEA.

Anne Hollis was recognised in the impact in the local community category for being instrumental in starting Reaching Out art classes and widening its reach.

“At a time when many classes are no longer running for students with disabilities,” the WEA said, “the programme has remained full and varied with student success and progress at the centre”.

The social impact award was won by Adult Signpost Haverhill for “their inspiring work with adults who risked becoming marginalised and socially excluded due to mental health conditions”.

And the outstanding student award has been won by Sarah Marie Birks, who started with the WEA’s Helping in Schools programme, which led to her getting a teaching assistant position. She is now starting a BA in education culture and childhood.

Twelve regional award winners have also received awards; and WEA fellowships were bestowed on NOCN group managing director Graham Hasting-Evans, chief executive of the Learning and Work Institute Stephen Evans and the executive chair of Together TV and former chief executive of the Media Trust Caroline Diehl.

FE Week is the official media partner of the WEA 2019 Educational Impact Awards, which are taking place as part of the association’s Adult Education Works campaign.


The winners are as follows:

  • Outstanding student: Sarah Marie Birks
  • Outstanding student group: Science for ESOL Glasgow
  • Outstanding volunteer: Norma Hinson
  • Impact in your local community: Anne Hollis
  • Outstanding tutor: Frank Ferrie
  • Outstanding staff member/team: Sam Jones
  • Outstanding staff team: Midlands Engine ESOL project
  • Outstanding regional partner: Dolphin Women’s Centre
  • Social Impact award: Adult Signpost Haverhill
  • Olive Cordell foundation tutor: Cathy Kirk
  • Olive Cordell foundation student: Hava Cil

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