I am absolutely thrilled! I am very lucky because I had an absolutely wonderful job that I loved. I was head of student services for 22 years, and really enjoyed it. It was a lovely college, very vibrant and stimulating, with wonderful student services staff. So I loved my job, loved the work, and was absolutely delighted to win.
Also, I have just retired so it was a lovely way to finish my career.
Because I loved the work so much, it was very easy for me to work with all the staff and really enjoy it. We had a lot of services that we offered in student services, which is quite unusual. We had a lot of work placements, career management courses; a lot of services for the students. We did very well in inspection reports, so really, I think [what pushed me ahead of others] was the length of service and the quality and quantity of services we offered.
[On whether the awards undermine those who remain unrecognised]
For me, everybody deserves an award, because people do work very hard. I can only speak for the college but I do know that in the FE sector there are so many talented and skilled people working; many thousands are deserving of recognition, and deserve an award.
These awards have only been around for a couple of years, but I do hope that now we will be in a position to nominate other people. I”m thrilled to have received an award, but there are so many who do deserve an award.
[On what she would like to see remedied in FE immediately]
More money! So many ideas that staff have got; speaking at the 6th form college I am at, nearly all the departments want to expand, run extra courses, do extra things, but of course they can”t because there isn”t the space to do them. The college is now awaiting money in order to build another wing, because it is absolutely at full capacity, and I think that will be a really important thing; having more money to build quality facilities, in which the quality staff will work because there are so many good quality staff in FE. Certainly there are colleges waiting and trying to expand, but they just haven”t got any capital available to do that.
The other thing would be to extend all the opportunities for vocational courses, as well. I think that is very important.
Libby James, Worcester Sixth Form College [Retired]
Winner: Lifetime Achievement
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