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NCFE announces Aspiration Awards winners after record-breaking year

Lucas Reynard

Educational charity and leaders in vocational and technical learning @NCFE, has revealed the winners of this year’s prestigious Aspiration Awards. 

The awards programme, which was founded by NCFE in 2018 to honour the success of learners, educators and educational organisations across the UK, has grown in popularity year on year.  

Attracting a record number of entries across the four categories, the 2021 judging panel, which comprised Zac Eldridge, Director of Qualifications and Assessment at NCFE, Christine Hardman, Director at The PiXL Club, Brenda McLeish, CEO at Learning Curve Group, and Catherine Sezen, Senior Policy Manager at the Association of Colleges, spent hours reviewing and deliberating over the high calibre of candidates.  

The four categories are Teacher of the Year, Learner of the Year, Centre of the Year and Against all Odds, all of which celebrate those who have gone above and beyond in their learning, teaching or support. 

Learner of the Year – Katie Albert from Blackpool and the Fylde College 

Katie demonstrated a true passion for working within the education sector when starting her journey at Blackpool and the Fylde College in September 2019, completing the NCFE CACHE Level 2 Diploma for the Early Years Practitioner alongside an additional maths qualification and an industry placement. Through her hard work and determination, Katie was then able to progress onto the T Level in Education and Childcare – the government’s new flagship educational programme, providing a vocational alternative to A Levels.   

Teacher of the year – Gary Rayworth, Chorlton High School 

Described by his colleagues as an “outstanding Technology teacher”, Gary is the Curriculum Leader for Technology and Computing at Chorlton High School where he introduced and now teaches the NCFE level 2 Technical Award in Graphic Design. Many of the learners in Gary’s classes are from disadvantaged backgrounds and some often find school challenging, however he has managed to transform his learners through passion for teaching.   

Centre of the Year – Yuzu Training 

Yuzu Training were the first provider to gain significant progress since the pandemic in a recent Ofsted report. They were also praised for their delivery of the NCFE CACHE Level 2 Certificate in Understanding Safeguarding and Prevent, and their brilliant relationships with employers and local enterprise partnerships. These partnerships are key to help delivery of the courses which tactically meet the economic needs for its regions and ensures their learners have the skills and knowledge needed to progress in their careers.   

Against all odds – Lucas Reynard from Eastleigh College 

Lucas hasn’t let challenging circumstances stop him from achieving his goals and is a remarkable example of an inspirational young learner. In their award nomination, Lucas’s tutors described how, in the past year, when Lucas faced the challenges of homelessness and major health issues, he managed 99% attendance (only missing a lesson for a doctor’s appointment), maintained quality and timely completion of his work and achieved A* results. Lucas’s tutor, Nicola George, who nominated him for the award, describes Lucas as having “excellent work ethic, enthusiasm, and hunger for taking on opportunities and responsibilities, alongside his desire to help his fellow-learners.” 

Zac Aldridge, Director of Qualifications and Assessment at NCFE, added: 

“We were overwhelmed by the incredible response to this year’s Aspiration Awards. The amazing work being carried out by learners, teachers and centres across the UK during such a challenging year is truly humbling and incredibly inspiring. Seeing such commitment to education is what drives us at NCFE to do all we can to make a real difference, and we’d like to pass on our sincere congratulations to everyone who was nominated.” 

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