From education to employment

Bradford College shortlisted at the TES FE Awards 2021

Esther Wilkey

@BradfordCollege – Bradford College shortlisted at the TES FE Awards 2021 with Esther Wilkey  shortlisted in the 2021 FE Teacher of the Year and the college a finalist in Contribution to the community award 

The most outstanding individuals and institutions that the further education sector has to offer have been recognised in the shortlist for the 2021 Tes FE Awards.

It’s been revealed that Bradford College has been shortlisted in two categories:

Contribution to the community

This award recognises the individual, team or FE college or provider that has made the most impact in supporting their community socially, culturally or economically.

A group of refugees have used skills taught by Bradford College to support some of the most vulnerable members of the Bradford community.

They have taken part in the Refugee Welcome Café project, where they have been learning all the skills they need to run their own cafes.

The project itself was a joint venture between the college, Bradford Council, the Millside Centre in Bradford and SkillsHouse, an partnership including educational organisations, voluntary services providers and employers that helps connect out-of-work residents to jobs and training.

The learners came to Bradford from a variety of nations including Uganda, Yemen, Syria, Jordan and Sudan, but were united in a love of cooking and a determination to succeed.

Tutor Nabeela Khan taught them a variety of skills in cooking, food preparation and food safety as well as customer service. Unfortunately, the Covid pandemic meant that the café could no longer continue to serve customers at the premises. Determined to continue using and developing their skills the students volunteered throughout the lockdown period to design nutritious two and three course meals. These were provided to the city’s asylum seekers, refugees and those with financial issues or who are unable to make meals themselves.

Nabeela Khan has also led a community sewing class in which students have made reusable theatre scrubs, gowns, masks and large washing bags. The equipment was donated to healthcare staff at hospitals in Bradford, Halifax and Huddersfield as well as a dental practice and GP surgeries in West Yorkshire.

Duncan Burnett, Curriculum Area Manager for Community, Distance Learning and Forster College, said: “Our refugee students deserve recognition for inspirational acts of kindness and compassion in the face of the pandemic, using their learning and community citizenship skills to make a difference.”

He added: “Community learning is a conduit to support people from their street into work, to support employment opportunities for people with multiple barriers to learning and work across the district. I feel privileged to be able to support local people to take their next steps. From September to December community learning had supported over 115 people into work, and supported many more with the skills to become a good step nearer to employment.”

Teacher of the Year

Esther Wilkey has been shortlisted in the FE Teacher of the Year category. This award seeks to reward the individual whose passion, knowledge and skill have inspired students to success and who has made a major contribution to educational life in the year 2019-20.

Esther teaches English for Speakers of Other Languages at Bradford College. She uses her creativity and imagination to make the curriculum exciting, which motivates and inspires her students. She embraces language and culture into her lessons, using everything from people’s personal stories to world events, Shakespeare to the Beatles and beyond.

The classes taught in ESOL include refugees, asylum seekers and immigrants. Some have experienced trauma, some live alone, and those with family members are carers and translators for parents or siblings.

Esther’s passion is demonstrated through Shakespeare Club, which uses immersive techniques used by RSC actors in their rehearsals to engage students in their learning. Shakespeare Club has opened doors and helped students to believe in themselves. Many of her students have progressed from ESOL to GCSEs and A-level courses. In collaboration with Bradford Theatres, students have worked towards Arts Awards as part of a three-year programme of activity between cultural organisations and the college.

Many students have gone on to progress to degree courses. One of Esther’s students has just been accepted to do medicine at Keele University and another to do medicine at UCL starting this September.

Dawn Leak, Vice Principal at Bradford College, said: “Congratulations to everyone who has been shortlisted for these awards. The impact of their work is life-transforming and has helped create better futures for so many students. They have made us extremely proud and thoroughly deserve this recognition.”

A brilliant achievement

TES head of FE Julia Belgutay said: “Further education providers have excelled in what has been a truly challenging year, and the amazing individuals, teams and institutions on our Tes FE Awards shortlist showcase that. Our judges were highly impressed with the calibre of entries and I want to congratulate everyone who has made the shortlist – it is a brilliant achievement.”

After a very successful online awards ceremony last year, TES is once again holding this year’s awards ceremony virtually. Winners will be announced on Friday 28 May 2021.

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