The winners of the #WEAAwards were announced on 6th May. Established in 2012, the annual awards celebrate students and tutors who have transformed their lives and the lives of others through lifelong learning.

Teachers and students were shortlisted in 9 categories after a record-breaking number of entries were submitted by students, colleagues and tutors.

The inspirational stories include Joanne who after overcoming extremely low self-esteem set up her own charity to help people find their confidence, Kenny who found the confidence to share his passion for gaming online, five determined mums who gained qualifications to become Teaching Assistants despite the challenges of lockdown, Turkish maths teacher Selma who arrived in the UK without a word of English but is now fulfilling her dream to return to mainstream education.

Simon Parkinson, CEO of the WEA congratulated the winners and said:

“In a year of the most unimaginable circumstances, the number and quality of entries has been outstanding. It has been truly astonishing how these students and tutors have risen to the challenge. Their success truly demonstrates how adult education benefits individuals, their families and the communities they live in.

“The support from our sponsors has also been superb and their commitment in these difficult times meant that we could still celebrate the very best teachers and students”

Other winners include WEA tutor Azra who instilled a valuable sense of pride in students who had never studied before, ESOL student Rehana who lived in England for 25 years without barely speaking English but now is fluent enough to secure a job as a dinner supervisor and travels to visit her father in Pakistan, retired teacher Margaret who used her digital skills and classroom experience to help fellow students access Zoom courses and stay connected with the outside world, sewing tutor Lucy who got her course back online quickly and used innovative technology to make it more digitally friendly for students, and LDD tutor Sally who recognised the importance of getting her students back in face-to-face sessions and pushed to make it happen.

Margaret Greenwood MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Adult Education, said:

“I would like to congratulate all of the winners of this year’s WEA awards. The awards recognise the achievements of those who have engaged in adult education - whether that be for personal development, to acquire new skills or simply for the love of learning. They also provide an excellent opportunity to reflect on and celebrate the great work that the WEA does in bringing adult learning to local communities.

"It is really important that adult education opportunities are available to all, providing opportunities for learning, personal development and acquiring new skills. As well as education, adult education can provide the opportunity to meet new people and have a positive impact on health and wellbeing at any stage of life. I would encourage anyone contemplating taking the first step of finding out what is available in their area or online to do so. Adult education can transform lives."

Here are the award details in full:

Student – Career Success – Joanne Scott – Selby, North Yorkshire: This student has used their new skills to secure a job, start a new business, or progress at work. Read Joanne's story here

Student - Academic excellence - Selma Cakmak - Leicester: This student has achieved academic excellence, or who has made significant academic progress. Read Selma's story here

Student - Community Contribution - Margaret Kirk - Billericay: This student has used their new skills to make a significant contribution to their community. Read Margaret's story here

Student – Enhanced Digital Skills - Kenny Rae – Seaton, Aberdeen: This student has significantly enhanced their digital skills empowering them to connect with people, learn more and/or advance their career. Read Kenny's story here

Student – Enhanced English (in memory of Olive Cordell) - Rehana Kosar - Birmingham: This student whose second language is English, has made significant progress in their language skills, which is now enabling them to play an active role in the family, community and/or work. Read Rehana's story here

Student Group Teaching Assistant Group - North East: This group of students have made outstanding progress or impact within their community, working as a team. Read the group's story here

Tutor - Student Support (in memory of Olive Cordell) - Sally Turner-Clarke - Sheffield: This tutor has provided excellent student support, allowing the student to succeed in their studies or in life more generally. Read Sally's story here

Tutor - Digitally Innovative - Lucy Hewes - Scunthorpe: This tutor has been innovative in the teaching approach online, engaging their students and supporting their success. Read Lucy's story here

Tutor - Inspirational Teaching - Azra Rasool, Small Heath, Birmingham: This tutor has truly inspired their students with their passion for their subject. Read Azra's story here

Our Awards ceremony also inaugurated two new WEA Fellows. WEA Fellowships are awarded to distinguished public figures who have made a special contribution to adult education, and who are passionate about the WEA's wider social justice objectives. 

During the evening, Sir Malcom Grant, former Chairman of NHS England and Ruth Spellman, former CEO of WEA, were inaugurated as Fellows of the WEA. 

Congratulations Sir Malcolm Grant and Ruth Spellman in becoming WEA Fellows.

Student award winners 2021

Tutor award winners 2021

This year’s sponsors include Lloyds Banking Group, Clarion Futures, Skills & Education Group, The Education and Training Foundation, ncfe, Ruth Spellman and Olive Cordell Legacy.

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