From education to employment

Pearson Bronze Award for SERC Culinary Arts and Hospitality

L- R: Dr Muhammad Usama, Peter Orr, Shah Ahmed, Joe Townley, Joe Neeson, Mark Fullerton, Stephen McKinley, Bryony Bradley, Frank Blakely, Alison Black, Jim Reynolds, Paula Kirk, Aine McGreeghan, William Baker, James Cully, Kelvin McGreeghan, Darren Anderson, Stephen Colligan, Jonathan McEwan, Declan Black, Patrick Morris and Aaron Brown. 

South Eastern Regional College’s (@S_ERC) Hospitality and Culinary Arts team were presented with a Bronze Pearson National Teaching Award on National Thank a Teacher Day (19 June).

The team which works across Bangor, Downpatrick, Lisburn, and Newtownards Campuses, were awarded Bronze in the FE Team of the Year category.

The award recognises their ongoing Food Poverty Project in which they have radically adapted their project-based learning (PBL) focus from solely business enterprise to fifty percent social enterprise work, in response to the extreme food poverty in their local communities.

Paul Mercer, Deputy Head of School of Hospitality, and recipient of a Pearson Silver National Teaching Award in 2021, said,

“We are delighted to be recognised with a Bronze Pearson National Teaching Award for FE Team of the Year. Our Food Poverty Project works with food banks, charities, businesses, and local councils, to provide unique learning opportunities for students in designing, planning, and implementing culinary projects to address food poverty in the community.

“Our PBL social enterprise projects have included providing over 2,000 fresh and pre-prepared Christmas meals for users of Bangor, Downpatrick, Lisburn, and Newtownards foodbanks, and 400 three-course Christmas dinners for vulnerable people in the North Down community. We have held demonstrations on how to feed a family of four on £5 funded by Tesco; and many other smaller scale charity events such as the Cash4Kids coffee morning fundraiser. We have also started a food education programme; getting our students to produce low-cost family favourite recipes and supporting demonstration videos, which were shared with the community and was supported by Ards and North Down Borough Council.

On the same day, SERC’s Engineering Education team were presented a Silver Pearson National Teaching Award for Further Education Team of the Year, and lecturer Lizzie Buick from the Enterprise team was Highly Commended in the FE Lecturer of the Year category for the 2024 Award.

In 2019, SERC’s Science team won the Silver FE Team of the Year, followed by the College’s Enterprise, Entrepreneurship and Environment team (2023). The College’s Little SERC creche team won a Silver Early Years Team of the Year Award in 2023. In addition, since 2021, individual lecturers have achieved Silver Awards for FE Lecturer of the Year: Paul Mercer (2021) and Aine McGreeghan (2023); and Stefanie Campbell (2021), who went on to win a Gold National Teaching Award for Digital Innovator of the Year.

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