Stars shine bright at SQA awards ceremony

Star Awards 2012

Pictured at the 2012 Star Awards are SQA chairman Graham Houston,
SQA Fellowship winner Brian Lister OBE and SQA chief executive Dr Janet Brown


Learners from across Scotland gathered with representatives from education and training organisations on Friday 9 November to celebrate outstanding achievements and individual success stories at the annual SQA Star Awards.

The ceremony, held at Anniesland College in Glasgow, paid tribute to individuals’ outstanding achievements in schools, colleges and those working with training providers. 

Colleges, schools and private and public sector training organisations – which all offer SQA qualifications – were also among those rewarded for their innovation, partnership working and commitment to life-long learning.  Special tributes were paid to Scottish further education colleges for the work done in partnership with local communities across the country. 

Among the big winners on the night was Craig Nicolson, a former pupil of Anderson High School in Lerwick, who scooped the Star Award for School Candidate of the Year.

Craig, now in his first year studying medicine at Edinburgh University, successfully raised the funds required to self-finance a trip to CERN (European Organisation for Nuclear Research) in Switzerland as part of his studies for his Scottish Baccalaureate in Science.  His project, investigating the practical uses of particle accelerators, was so well received it is now used as a text book example of how to conduct a baccalaureate research project.

Alongside his studies, Craig also volunteered with the local NHS in Shetland and was a St John’s Ambulance volunteer providing first aid at a number of local events.

The Star Award judges were so impressed with Craig, he also lifted SQA’s prestigious “Pride o’ Worth” Award.  The “Pride o’ Worth” awards are presented to the individual and centre that has demonstrated truly outstanding achievements over the past year.

The second “Pride o’ Worth” award was given to Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Nithsdale Community Learning and Development North West Resource Centre, which also lifted the trophy for the Lifelong Learning for centres.

Though only offering SQA qualifications for two years, the North West Resource Centre has already been successful and shown its potential creating a welcoming atmosphere for adult learners many of whom are returning to education after negative experiences earlier in life.

Former George Heriot’s School pupil James Matthew, who achieved 100 percent in both his Advanced Higher Mathematics and Applied Mathematics exams and an average mark of 99.46% across all his Advanced Higher exams, was awarded the Star Award for Academic Excellence.

Lifting the trophy for College Candidate of the Year was former South Lanarkshire College student Ben Pendlebury who successfully combined his final year studies for his HND in Business Management with his duties as president of the college’s student association.

Ben worked to raise the profile of the student association across the college and mobilised the student population to support a number of charities in the local community.  Ben, now a undergraduate at Glasgow Caledonian University, looks to pursue a career in teaching once he completes his degree.

The final award of the night, the SQA Fellowship, which is presented to individuals who have made a significant contribution to education and training in Scotland over the course of their career, was given to former Stevenson College Edinburgh principal, Brian Lister OBE.

Congratulating the winners and those entries which were highly commended, SQA Chief Executive, Dr Janet Brown, said: “Once again I have been overwhelmed by the great stories that have emerged from our schools, colleges and training providers over the past year.  Tonight’s ceremony acknowledges the best of the best.  We have been privileged to hear some incredibly moving and inspirational stories.  Sometimes the excellent work of our colleagues in schools, colleges and training centres and the achievements of young people and adult learners can be overshadowed.  But not tonight.  Tonight is their opportunity to shine in spotlight.”

Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learing Michael Russell, said: “Congratulations to all the winners and those who have been highly commended in the SQA Star Awards this year. They can all be immensely proud of their achievements. It’s great to be involved in an event that recognises the skills and qualities of the people who have excelled and made such a worthwhile and positive impact on Scottish education.”

The SQA Star Awards were hosted by TV and radio presenter Kaye Adams and supported by a number of sponsors, including CBI Scotland, Education Scotland and the SCQF Partnership.


SQA Star Awards 2012 – Award winners and highly commended entries:


College Candidate:    Ben Pendlebury, South Lanarkshire College
Highly Commended:    Mary Palmer, Kilmarnock College; Ryan Gallacher, James Watt College


Academic Excellence:   James Matthew, George Heriot’s School
Highly Commended:    Dugald Hepburn, Boroughmuir High School; Jack Holligan, George Heriot’s School; Calum Worsley, Dollar Academy; Felicia Law, George Heriot’s School


SQA Appointee:    John Grant
Highly Commended:    Donald John Maciver


Partnership:   Skills for Work at the Centre – A Senior Phase Strategy, Glasgow City Council / John Wheatley College
Highly Commended:    Time for Change Partnership (Up to Us / Oilean); Forth Valley College Science Baccalaureate Partnership


Lifelong Learning Centre:   Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Nithsdale Community Learning and Development Centre
Highly Commended:    Coatbridge College, School of Dental Studies;  Kilmarnock College


International: Borders College 
Highly Commended:    Scottish Police College; ASET International Oil & Gas Training Academy


Innovation:     St Peter the Apostle High School, West Dunbartonshire
Highly Commended:    Coatbridge College; Cumbernauld College


Lifelong Learning Candidate:   Barrie Wilson, Angus Council, Social Work & Health Department
Highly Commended:    Sadia Ismail Sharif, City of Glasgow College; Carol Ann Sinclair, Coatbridge Community Centre


SQA Champion: Isobel Anderson, Angus Council, Social Work & Health Department
Highly Commended:    Colin Gunning, Forth Valley College; Sandra Brogan, Dundee City Council Social Work


Training Organisation Candidate:  Jonathan McPhee, Pulteneytown People’s Project
Highly Commended:  Cheryl Robertson, GMD Community Services


School Candidate:    Craig Nicolson, Anderson High School, Lerwick
Highly Commended:    Ryan Clark, Bellshill Academy, North Lanarkshire; Kaleem,Shaikh, Uddingston Grammar School, South Lanarkshire; Sean Gabillard, Enhanced Vocational Inclusion Programme, Glasgow


Centre Pride o’ Worth Winner:  Dumfries and Galloway Council, Nithsdale Community Learning and Development


Individual Pride o’ Worth Winner:  Craig Nicolson, Anderson High School, Lerwick


SQA Fellowship:    Brian Lister OBE