I was absolutely amazed. I think it was one of the greatest experiences I have ever had! It was such an honour to win it; I really didn"t think for a moment that I was going to win the award. When you saw the quality of the people I was up against, it was amazing.
That day, one of the nominees was staying in the same hotel as me, same category, and we got on so well: it was just great!
[On what pushed him ahead of those in the same category]
It is very hard to say really. It might be the fact that I am extremely passionate about my area of education. I work in family language, literacy and numeracy and so, it is a chance to get to people in a way that perhaps you never could in any other way. Lots of courses are run, but the adults that are coming are coming for their children. Very quickly they discover that there is a lot in it for them. And it is also an opportunity for them to learn a bit more, and to actually do something for themselves, which obviously benefits their children. They see it as a second chance, in that learning just carries on. It is not something you do only as a kid, but something all the time.
There are lots of people who come to me and say "I regret I never did this" and I always reassure them that it is never too late. Quite a few of them get the bug, and get back into college, back into careers, and actually better themselves, and it is just nice to see that self-confidence grow out of people. I think it is something to do with giving people self-confidence. It seems to be something that I have got a skill in doing; I am genuinely interested in people.
[On whether the awards undermine those who remain unrecognised]
This year has proved that these awards, as well as being self-congratulatory, are about going out and disseminating the work that you are doing all over the country. It actually brings lots of tutors and providers together, so you can actually be really inspired by other people.
You soon realise what is going on out there, and I personally do not think it is a bad thing. We"re almost like the poor cousins in the education field, and the only way we"re going to get out there is to promote ourselves.
Already, people I have met during that evening have been in touch, and there are plans being made to visit various centres throughout the country, to see how we all teach, so it does [share good practice]. I think that is what they are all about.
[On what he would like to see remedied immediately in FE]
I would like to see the funding side of further education be secure. There is a lot of talk afoot about charging people for courses. When you are already working so hard to encourage people back into FE, it is another barrier, and something they can use as another excuse to not come back.
The other barriers we get with certain types of funding are the targets; the funding depends on the targets. I have been fortunate enough to reach all of my targets, but at the same time you read stuff from the National Research and Development Centre (NRDC) on how targets should not determine funding. I don"t think it has anything to do with my paymasters, it comes from a higher level, and so they"re only doing their job.
It would be nice to see someone in central government to actually say "we know we must standardise teaching, we know we have to reach a certain standard, but lets not beat tutors over the head with targets". When that happens, you tend to teach towards exams.
Robert Randall, Adult Education in Gloucester.
Winner: Outstanding Adult and Community Learning Practitioner
Tomorrow: Patricia Barr [HMP Manchester], Winner of the Outstanding Basic Skills Practitioner award
Related FE News articles: