From education to employment

T Level pioneer recognised for going above and beyond for students

An FE educator has won a prestigious national award for being the driving force behind the delivery of a brand-new T Level qualification in her college.

Lucy Sharp, from Derby College, played an integral role in ensuring students received the highest quality experience and outcomes from the Education and Early Years T Level.

As an early adopter, Derby College first piloted the T Level during lockdown and, since then, Lucy has been at the forefront of the qualification. In 2022, her first student cohort went on to receive outstanding results – including 70% at Distinction and 30% at Merit grade.

It’s this impressive commitment to her students and learning that has seen her named Teacher of the Year at the Aspiration Awards – a national celebration created by the educational charity NCFE.

Lucy said: “I really appreciate the recognition for this award! It’s been an enriching experience developing the T Level in Education and Early Years.

“We have had fantastic cohorts of students and with my great and supportive team, we have all worked very hard to ensure our students progress and gain positive destinations.”

Part of Ofsted’s review of the Education and Early Years T Level, Derby College received fantastic feedback with Lucy playing an instrumental role – highlighting the planning, work, and resources they had developed and implemented for the students. 

Ofsted observed Lucy over the course of three days and could clearly see a positive rapport established with students, exemplary behaviour, and learners who were very complimentary of their teacher. The students themselves provided very positive feedback regarding how supportive she is in sessions, with pastoral care, and in providing information, advice, and guidance for their next steps.

Amber Hamid, Curriculum Manager at Derby College, said:

“Lucy has worked extremely hard to develop the T Level to a very high-quality standard. The students show a clear understanding of the topic, higher order thinking, and high aspirations and ambitions for the future.  

“Lucy’s tutor group, students who completed in the summer, all had positive outcomes and destinations at the end, with 50% going onto higher educational and the other 50% securing employment in the early years sector.”  

Lucy has also networked with other colleges and provided support to her peers across the sector. For example, a college that will be implementing T Levels from September 2023 onwards asked to meet with her to see how she had developed the qualification. 

Always putting ger students’ needs first, Lucy will often attend training sessions in her own time to develop her knowledge and skills. She has also attended industry insight days in primary school to stay current and up to date, so she can provide her students with accurate information.   

Lucy has organised guest speakers as well – including SENCOs, social workers, and primary school teachers – and arranged for students to visit the local university, to provide more enriching experiences and develop their ambition.

Created by the leader in vocational and technical learning NCFE, the Aspiration Awards are now in their sixth year and celebrate learners, educators, and educational organisations across the UK.  

Caroline Henbery, Aspiration Award Judge and Operations Director for Technical Education at NCFE, said:

“It has been my absolute pleasure to judge this award, allowing me to gain insight into the real difference that teachers are making to the lives and experiences of learners.

“The calibre of entrants has been nothing short of outstanding making judging extremely hard, with all entrants making extraordinary, tangible contributions to their profession.  Lucy’s nomination stood out for the significant work that she has done over the last few years to develop the T Level in Education and Early Years – from teaching through COVID and lockdowns, to providing extra support for learners.

“Lucy has developed networks with other providers to ensure sharing of best practices for all learners to benefit from and has always kept a sharp focus on helping learners to progress to the next stage of their learning or entering the workplace. Well done Lucy!”

For more information about the Aspiration Awards and to see all the winners, visit here.  

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