The Festival of Learning award winners for 2023 have been announced by Learning and Work Institute. The ten winners, revealed at an awards ceremony, include inspiring stories of adult learners, as well as outstanding adult learning provision, tutors and employers.
Festival of Learning has been England’s biggest celebration of lifelong learning for over 30 years. It is supported by Phoenix Insights, NOCN, The Education and Training Foundation, Skills and Education Group and City Lit. The Patron’s Award winner is chosen by Learning and Work Institute’s Patron, HRH The Princess Royal.
Each of this year’s winners shows the power of learning to transform people’s lives and ensure they fulfil their potential. Lifelong learning will be ever more important for life and work as working lives lengthen, the population ages, and our economy changes. The awards highlight this and aim to inspire more adults to learn throughout their lives.
The winners are:
Margaret Porta has been selected by HRH The Princess Royal to receive the Patron’s Award. Margaret gained new IT skills through tutoring with the Open Age DigitALL Project and successfully put together a digital campaign to promote her first ever art show.
St Giles Trust has selected to win the President’s Award for their innovative London Peer Hub, a programme for training and supporting its clients to ‘turn a past into a future’ and achieve a Level 3 NVQ in Advice and Guidance – often the first qualification that they have ever attained.
Emma Iliffe’s passion for Deaf culture and the Deaf community forms an integral part of her practice as a teacher of British Sign Language (BSL) at City Lit. Emma has been recognised with the Tutor Award, sponsored by the Education and Training Foundation.
Fakhra Irfan has won the English Language Learning Award. Fakhra spoke no English when she first moved to the UK and lacked the confidence to explore beyond her home environment. When her husband died shortly after she gave birth to her third child, adult learning paved the way for her journey to independence.
Fircroft College has been selected to win the Learning Provision Award. As one of only two adult residential colleges in England, Fircroft provides a safe and welcoming environment for learners who are furthest from the labour market, and who often have multiple and complex needs.
Geoff Carter has won our Learning for Work Award, sponsored by NOCN Group. After an extended period of unemployment followed by a family tragedy, Geoff was proud to secure a role with the HS2 project. His construction training not only brought him skills and qualifications, it also empowered him to show his children what a good working life looks like.
Jackie Butterworth was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in 2013 and had a stoma fitted the following year. She has been awarded the Learning for Health Award after attending support groups and courses with the WEA helped create sense of control over her life. Jackie has now set up her own group to support others going through similar challenges.
Jason Richards was recovering from severe brain damage and years of homelessness when he found training opportunities through Newground Together. Jason has received our New Directions Award, sponsored by Skills and Education Group, after his success in learning led not only to an offer of work, but the chance to reconnect with his family.
Originally founded as a sheltered workshop to provide meaningful employment and training for adults with disabilities, since 2021, Nuneaton Signs has offered supported internships for young people with special educational needs and disabilities in partnership with North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College (NWSLC). They have been recognised with our Employer Award, sponsored by NOCN Group.
Tyrese Williams has won our Return to Learning award, sponsored by City Lit. Tyrese found school extremely challenging and left without any GCSEs. Everything changed with her referral to First Steps to Learning course at Buckinghamshire Adult Learning, a course aimed at developing English, maths and digital skills for young parents.