From education to employment

Pauline Strong, Educator of the Year at the Aspiration Awards, shares her story of swapping Police work for coursework

Pauline Strong, Aspiration Awards

A college lecturer has won a prestigious national award after swapping handcuffs for homework 11 years ago.  

Pauline Strong, Lecturer in Policing and Public Services at Herefordshire, Ludlow and North Shropshire College, has been named Educator of the Year at NCFE’s Aspiration Awards – honouring  learners, educators and organisations across the UK. 

Following a long and successful career in West Mercia Police, where she worked in the intelligence, serious crime, domestic abuse and sexual offences, police training and criminal investigation departments, Pauline wasn’t looking for a restful retirement. 

Instead, she embarked on a new career in teaching and has now been delivering uniformed public services courses for more than a decade.  

Pauline said: “I am really touched by this recognition, when I found out I was a finalist and people started to congratulate me, I was overwhelmed. It has been a lovely surprise.” 

When the opportunity arose to lead on the college’s adult education provision for NCFE’s Level 3 Introductory Certificate in Policing, Pauline grabbed it with both hands. She arranged for students to experience first-hand life as an officer as they got to join police on duty, working with local policing teams, patrol and traffic officers.   

In addition, Pauline organised a visit to the local police station where the custody officer gave a tour of the unit and a talk about the various aspects of dealing with suspects. Students were also able to look around the cells, the holding area, and the interview rooms, giving them a fantastic insight into the role of these officers.   

These experiences have been a vital part of Pauline bringing learning to life for her students, enabling them to see what it’s like in this service. As a result of her passion for the course and commitment to her students’ success, many of them have now successfully applied to join the service and are actively in their initial training stages.    

Melanie Taylor, Vice Principal at Herefordshire, Ludlow and North Shropshire College, said: “Pauline is a passionate, dedicated professional who is making a difference to the lives of both our younger students taking their first steps into the public services sector, and our adult students who are adding the required knowledge, skills experience and qualifications to support their successful applications to the police service.   

“Our learners on Policing and Public Services courses really enjoy the scenario-based learning that Pauline can provide, drawing on her extensive industry experience. Her tales of her time policing (including investigation, problem and crime solving, and supporting both offenders and victims) really help learners to understand the importance of the role of the police, and ensure they are aware of the commitment they are undertaking. 

“We are delighted that Pauline has been recognised by winning this fantastic award. She thoroughly deserves the success as she is a wonderful asset to our whole college community.” 

Pauline has also been the driving force in her college’s Citizens Academy, in which students work alongside West Mercia Police on a journey that will enrich their knowledge of policing and enhance their overall life skills. The Citizens’ Academy is a valuable part of the college’s enrichment offer, where participants meet with officers and staff from various areas of the force and understand the work involved in modern day policing.   

Reflecting on her time as an educator, Pauline said: “We deliver a wide range of NCFE qualifications as we find them accessible for learners of all abilities. They enable teachers to bring the learning to life, using real examples, scenarios, case studies and role play.   

“NCFE qualifications give teachers and learners the freedom to explore the subject content without the restriction of too many examinations and enable them to apply their new knowledge and skills in a work-based setting. We have a number of students who since completing these courses are now active or training officers.” 

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