Staff and students at Sunderland College are celebrating after being awarded BTEC College of the Year 2019 at a glittering ceremony in London last night.

The further education college, which also includes Hartlepool Sixth Form, was recognised as the top college nationally by Pearson, the UK’s largest awarding organisation.

Judith Quinn, Interim Deputy Principal for Curriculum at Sunderland College, said:

“We are absolutely delighted that Sunderland College has been awarded this prestigious national accolade. Students are at the heart of everything we do and this award is a reflection of our dedicated and inspiring staff who are passionate about providing an outstanding learning experience to the next generation of career professionals.”

Sunderland College merged with Northumberland College in March this year, which created Education Partnership North East - one of the largest college groups in the UK. Ellen Thinnesen, Chief Executive of Education Partnership North East, commented:

“The college’s BTEC provision continues to form the cornerstone of our professional and technical offer, and is aligned to local, regional and national priorities. We have recently been selected to pilot the new, high quality T Levels from 2021, which will further build on our excellence in technical qualifications.

“Our success is driven by our passion for excellence. Through transforming external partnerships and enhancing our approach to corporate social responsibility, we attribute our success to close alignment with a broad range of employers and community stakeholders.

“The impact of a careers-focused approach to our courses and a learning experience built upon the world of work, is life-changing for our students and ensures they progress to a positive destination.”

The college was presented with their award at the ninth annual Pearson BTEC Awards, which celebrates exceptional BTEC providers, students and apprentices.

Rod Bristow, President of Pearson in the UK, said: 

“All of the North East’s nominees and winners this year deserve huge congratulations. Learners stand every chance of continuing that success into the careers they are now ready to start. This year’s awards are a fantastic celebration of them, alongside the schools, colleges, universities, training providers, and employers who have underpinned their efforts.”

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BTECs are specialist work-related qualifications available in a range of sectors such as business, engineering, health and applied science. They provide students with the skills, practical understanding and knowledge to prepare students for further study, training and employment.

Newly elected Student President for Sunderland College and Hartlepool Sixth Form, Zainab Nadeem was proud of the college’s award. The 18-year-old from Sunderland, who has studied a BTEC Photography course at the college for the last two years, said:

“I studied a BTEC course at Sunderland College as it offered me the specialist course I wanted to do for my future career, and I found the college incredibly welcoming.

“The lecturers are just as incredible and they always do their best to help you in any way. I have had lots of opportunities to work on events both in and outside of college to build my portfolio, and I also completed a work placement as part of my course to prepare me for a future career in the industry.

“I feel very proud that Sunderland College has won BTEC College of the Year, and that I was part of it. It really doesn’t surprise me as it’s an incredible college.” 

Zainab hopes to progress to university and study fashion photography.

Sunderland College also recently celebrated their music teaching team being honoured with a Silver Teaching Award for FE Team of the Year at the Pearson National Teaching Awards, an annual celebration of exceptional teachers. It followed drama lecturer Jonathan Wharton’s success at last year’s Awards where he was crowned FE Lecturer of the Year.

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