Exceptional students from colleges across south London were honoured yesterday at a special event in the House of Lords.

The annual South London Learner Awards are presented on behalf of the Committee of South London Principals, celebrating some of the amazing achievements made by further education students in the region.

The event was hosted by Lord Tope, who presented the 14 winners with their awards. Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Greater London, Sir Kenneth Olisa OBE  attended as guest speaker.

Group Principal and CEO of London South East Colleges, Sam Parrett OBE led proceedings, welcoming guests and introducing award winners.  Also in attendance was Stephen Howlett CBE, DL, Chair of London South East Colleges and a Deputy-Lieutenant of Greater London..

Representatives from nine colleges attended the event. Tutors accompanied their students onto stage to collect their awards, telling guests about each winner’s remarkable achievements.

London South East Colleges chose a winner from each of its Bromley, Bexley and Greenwich Campuses: Sami Begum, Agni Bibo and Charlene Francis.

Sami Begum from Bromley, is determined to become a physiotherapist despite having a severe visual impairment. She is described as a ‘source of inspiration’ to both staff and other students

Angi Bibo, an adult learner from Bexley has worked so hard on her Access course that she has been able to progress onto a foundation degree in pharmaceutical sciences. She has achieved this while raising a family and gaining relevant experience in a local pharmacy.

Charlene Francis, a mature student from Greenwich achieved highly on her Access to HE production arts course and has now secured a place to study for a BA in Scenic Arts at Rose Bruford College. A mother of four, Charlene is a shining example of how it is possible to start a career later life.

Winners from the other eight colleges had equally inspiring stories, overcoming the odds to achieve highly and demonstrating the importance of the opportunities that Further Education offers.

Lord-Lieutenant of Greater London and guest speaker, Sir Kenneth Olisa OBE, said:

“This afternoon we have heard some remarkable stories of determination, courage and hard work. Every award winner is an inspiration and should be extremely proud of their achievements.

“I am delighted to be part of today’s event and am keen to stress how important high quality Further Education provision is. Colleges sit at the heart of communities, supporting social mobility and helping people achieve their career goals. We must continue to champion these institutions and highlight the inspiring work being done here.”

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Offering the vote of thanks, Chair of London South East Colleges, Stephen Howlett CBE DL, added:

“What a wonderful afternoon. The stories we have heard today simply sum FE up - showing what incredible things can be achieved when opportunities are opened up.

“Huge congratulations to all the award winners and the tutors who support them so well. Thank you for your hard work and dedication and for inspiring others. I wish you all the very best of luck in achieving your future goals.”

The Committee of South London Principals includes:

  • Croydon College
  • John Ruskin College
  • London South East Colleges
  • Merton Adult Education
  • Nash College
  • Orchard Hill College
  • Richmond & Hillcroft Adult & Community College
  • Richmond Upon Thames
  • South Thames Colleges Group

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