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Exceptional FE students celebrated at the House of Lords

Students and teachers from across the Further Education sector have had their achievements celebrated at a special event in the House of Lords.

 The annual South London Learner and Teacher Awards are presented on behalf of the Committee of South London Principals (COSLP). The event is in its 20th year and was once again hosted by Lord Tope.

37 winners from 12 south London colleges across eight London boroughs were presented with awards. Each has demonstrated outstanding dedication, resilience and success in their learning or teaching.

Chair of CoSLP and Group Principal of London South East Colleges, Dr Sam Parrett CBE, welcomed guests to the event and introduced the Chair of the ETF, Sir Frank McLoughlin, who delivered the keynote speech.

Addressing winners, their families and college representatives, Sir Frank spoke about his own positive experiences of FE and his passion for lifelong learning. He congratulated the winners and praised the sector for its inclusiveness and transformational impact.

He said:

“It is a pleasure and a privilege to be here today. I have spent a lifetime in Further Education, both as a college student and principal. I can absolutely say that it is a joyous experience, and there is no doubt that colleges really do transform lives.

“The students collecting awards today are all inspirational, with many overcoming many challenges and proving that anything is possible. I was delighted to see their amazing teachers also being honoured. We have absolutely fantastic people working in FE who very much deserve this special recognition. 

“Many congratulations to all our winners, it’s wonderful to celebrate with you today.”

The ceremony was led by Peter Mayhew-Smith, Group Principal and CEO of South Thames Colleges Group. He introduced each award winner, with college representatives reading out citations for the students and teachers, highlighting their achievements.

London South East Colleges had student and teacher winners from its SEND provision, apprenticeships, vocational study and Bromley Football Club programmes:

London South East Colleges’s Bromley Football Club winner, Archie was recognised for his motivation, high achievement and playing performance. He was praised for being polite, respectful and a role model to his peers.

He said:

“Making the decision to come to college was a really good one for me. My course is going well and my aim is to get a professional football contract. I am proud to receive this award and my parents are proud too.”

London South East Colleges’s apprenticeships student winner, Tilly started a Hair Professionals’ apprenticeship in January 2022 at the College’s Greenwich campus. Showing real commitment, she completed her End-Point Assessment (achieving distinctions) and is now working towards her Level 3.

She said:

“I started 6th form but was already working in a salon on a Saturday. I realised that this was exactly what I wanted to do, so I decided to do an apprenticeship instead, and it’s been fantastic. I can’t believe I’ve won this award!”

London South East Colleges’s SEND student winner, William, is on an NHS-supported internship programme. He was celebrated for his amazing work ethic and willingness to always support others.

He said:

“My aim is to support other people with SEND. As well as my job in the hospital library, I deliver presentations with the disability liaison officer, to raise awareness of SEND. My aim is to become a professional trainer. I wasn’t expecting to win this award and am very grateful to everyone who has supported me.” 

Congratulating the winners and thanking guests, Dr Sam Parrett said:

“For the past 20 years, this special event has taken place to celebrate exactly what our sector is all about – determination, resilience and success.  Our award winners truly define the unique spirit of Further Education, and I am extremely proud to be part of this celebration.

“Many congratulations to every winner, and thank you to everyone for attending today. Your success will inspire others by demonstrating how challenges can be overcome. Best of luck in all your future endeavours.”

The Committee of South London Principals comprises the following colleges:

Coulsdon Sixth Form

Croydon College

Kingston Adult Education

London South East Colleges

Merton Adult Learning

Orbital South Colleges – John Ruskin, East Surrey

Orchard Hill Colleges

Shooters Hill Sixth Form College

South Thames Colleges Group – Kingston College, Merton College, South Thames College

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