Witney teacher up for national award on night of nominations

    An accounting teacher from Abingdon & Witney College is in the running to receive a prestigious further education teaching award, it was announced on Tuesday at the 2018 Association of Colleges (AoC) gala dinner.

    That evening, the College also discovered it has been nominated for the Skills and Education Group Award for Social Mobility and Widening Participation, along with Birkenhead Sixth Form College and Bridgwater & Taunton College. This award celebrates colleges who have an outstanding ability to reach out and widen participation in their local communities, and who use effective and imaginative approaches to attract and motivate learners.

    This year AoC has joined in partnership with Times Educational Supplement (Tes), who together will “promote and celebrate the great work and success of colleges and the FE sector.”

    The Tes FE Teacher of the Year is one of the awards up for grabs and Karen Walker, from Witney, has found herself in the running for it. The award “seeks to reward the individual whose passion, knowledge and skill have inspired students to success and who have made a major contribution to educational life.”

    She has worked at the College for 15 years, teaching on the accounting courses from Level 2 to Level 4, after a career as an accountant.

    Alongside her lessons, Karen encourages her students to learn employability skills by doing, promoting and developing key practical skills that employers and higher education institutions demand, a key fact behind why her students regularly achieve 20% above the national average rates. A testimonial from one of her students:

    “Karen is my amazing teacher. She has given me so much, not only teaching but hope. During my AAT [Association for Accounting Technicians] studies I lost my mother to cancer. Karen kept me going and went out of her way without asking to support…[she] taught me to never give up and enabled me to complete my AAT. I will always be grateful to her.”

    Karen said of the award nomination: “I am honoured to have been nominated for an award – I must admit it has come as a surprise!”

    “I love all the different aspects of my job, how my courses help to change people’s lives and how well students progress after achieving their qualification. People have busy and sometimes complicated lives, but I make it my mission to make the classes a supportive but challenging environment that they look forward to.”

    Di Batchelor, Principal and CEO of Abingdon & Witney College, said:

    “We’re all very proud of Karen here at the College. It’s just brilliant to have one of our own celebrated for the amazing work they have done with students, not just for their teaching abilities but for the one-to-one support that they provide beyond the call of duty.

    What is equally brilliant is to also be nominated for the outstanding work the College and its staff does within our local communities. Our Oxfordshire Adult Learning team work tirelessly to bring high-quality, accessible services to those who need it most.

    We’ll have our fingers crossed when it comes to awards season next year!”

    In relation to the College’s Beacon Award nomination, Carole Stott MBE, Chair of the AoC Charitable Trust, said:

    “The Beacon Awards were created to highlight the great work that goes on in colleges every day.”

    “Colleges put in a fantastic effort to transform the lives of more than two million people each day and are deeply embedded within their communities. Abingdon & Witney College have done exceptionally well to get this far, and we wish them the best of luck.”

    The winners of 2019 Tes FE Awards in association with AoC Beacon Awards will be announced at a ceremony on 22 March 2019.

    (November 2018)

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