From education to employment

Numbers add up for accountancy tutor Karen as she wins national award

Karen Richards, Work-based Learning Tutor of the Year

Karen Richards, who inspires and supports her accountancy learners to be the best they can be, has been named Wales’ Work-based Learning Tutor of the Year.

Karen, 54, from Blackwood, who has been the accounting tutor and co-ordinator with ACT in Cardiff since 2016, secured the award at the Apprenticeship Awards Cymru 2021 virtual ceremony on June 17.

With a pass rate of 86%, Karen’s learners are well above the national average. At any one time, she has more than 60 learners at various stages of their AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians) qualifications and she teaches day and evening workshops which were delivered online during the pandemic.

Karen said: “When I set out teaching, I never expected to win an award like this. I was thrilled when my manager wanted to nominate me, and I cannot believe it has come to this. I am absolutely delighted.

“I realise what a privilege it is to work with learners and to watch them grow professionally. It’s fabulous when I get an email from a learner who has overtaken me and is now a financial director. I know many of my learners were watching the award ceremony.”

Celebrating outstanding achievement in training and apprenticeships, the Apprenticeship Awards Cymru 2021 saw 35 finalists compete in 12 categories.

Highlight of the work-based learning calendar, the awards showcased businesses and individuals who have excelled on the Welsh Government’s Apprenticeship and Traineeship Programmes and gone the extra mile to achieve success during these unprecedented times.

Jointly organised by the Welsh Government and the National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW), the awards had Openreach, the UK’s digital network business and passionate supporter of apprenticeships, as the headline sponsor.

The Apprenticeship Programme in Wales is funded by the Welsh Government with support from the European Social Fund. Welsh Government Apprenticeship Programmes have benefitted 50,360 people across South East Wales since May 2016.

Karen uses her wealth of experience to teach Advanced Diploma and Professional Diplomas in Accounting in an engaging and fun way. In addition to teaching her own Level 4 learners at ACT, she also provides coaching support to other learning providers when their learners are struggling.

She holds AAT qualifications to Level 4, a Certificate in Education, the Assessors Award and is focused on continuously expanding her knowledge and professional development.

Passionate about teaching and making AAT more accessible to learners, Karen adapts her teaching style and uses a variety of resources to suit individual learners, some of whom have barriers that include dyslexia and anxiety.

One Level 2 learner ran out of an examination suffering from an anxiety attack but, with Karen’s support, eventually progressed to achieve the Level 4 qualification.

“A tutor plays an integral part in supporting learners to achieve their goals, acting as mentor, cheerleader and a listening ear,” said Karen. “It’s a privileged position that can have a powerful impact and, whether you’re six or 60 years old, we all need to experience success.

“Receiving learner feedback like ‘Karen never gave up on me, even when I gave up on myself’ reminds me why I teach.”

Congratulating Karen, Minister for the Economy, Vaughan Gething, said: “Our award winners have excelled via the Welsh Government’s Apprenticeship and Traineeship programmes and gone the extra mile to achieve success during unprecedented and extremely challenging times.

“This Welsh Government has ambitious recovery plans to ensure there is no lost generation as we rebuild a new version of Wales that becomes an engine for sustainable, inclusive growth. I believe apprenticeships will be vital as we emerge from the pandemic.

“That’s why the new Welsh Government has committed to creating a further 125,000 Apprenticeship places over the next five years. We are a small country, but we have big ambitions, and our aim is to create a culture in Wales where recruiting an apprentice becomes the norm for employers.”

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