High achievers of all ages to be recognised at SQA Star Awards

Star AwardsTwo high achieving brothers, an octogenarian, and a primary school pupil are among the finalists at this year’s SQA Star Awards.

The SQA Star Awards are unique, recognising both the individuals who work towards and the organisations that deliver SQA qualifications; rewarding those that have demonstrated an outstanding commitment to learning.

Glasgow twins Umut and Baran Karakus, who attended the city’s St Thomas Aquinas High School, have both been shortlisted in the Academic Excellence category.

The brothers, who left school at the end of their fifth year, between them in one year achieved a staggering combination of 20 A-grade Highers and Advanced Highers. Umut and Baran now on a gap-year placement with Scottish Power, taking time out before proceeding with applications to Ivy League universities in the US.

Also attending on the night will be Eve MacKenzie, the youngest person to have been nominated for a SQA Star Award. Eve, who is in P7 at Kildrum Primary School in Cumbernauld, has been shortlisted in the School Candidate of the Year category – normally the reserve of senior secondary school pupils. She has been recognised for her achievements in studying for a British Sign Language level 1 qualification.

Eighty year-old Jim Allison, from Aberdeen, is a finalist in the category for Training Organisation Candidate of the Year. Jim took it upon himself to complete a SQA SVQ level 2 in Social Services and Healthcare to develop his skills and knowledge and be recognised as a qualified carer for his wife, despite having no prior experience of care or support learning.

Jim, Eve, Baran, and Umut – along with the rest of this year’s finalists – have been invited along with friends, family, and colleagues to join others from across the country at a glittering ceremony at the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh on Friday 20 November for a night of celebration. They will be recognised and rewarded for their outstanding achievements and contributions to the success stories that have taken place within Scottish education and training over the past 12 months.

In all, seventeen awards will be presented on the night for categories including School and College Candidates of the Year, the Academic Excellence award, Appointee of the Year and SQA Champion.

Of the category winners, two will be chosen to collect SQA’s distinguished “Pride o’ Worth” awards; so named after the SQA motto and taken from Robert Burns’ poem, “A Man’s a Man for A’ That”.

SQA will also offer its highest accolade, the SQA Fellowship, to two individuals who have made exceptional contributions to education and training in Scotland throughout their careers.

SQA Chief Executive, Dr Janet Brown, said: “The SQA Star Awards provide a fantastic opportunity to recognise learners for their achievements but also acknowledge the outstanding work of our centres – the schools, colleges, training providers and employers who deliver our qualifications. The ceremony gives us a chance to thank the people who give our learners the guidance and encouragement they need to realise their potential. I congratulate all the finalists on making it this far in the competition and wish them the very best of luck on the night!”

The SQA Star Awards will be hosted by TV and radio presenter Kaye Adams and is supported by a number of sponsors, including Edinburgh First, CBI Scotland, Education Scotland, the SCQF Partnership and Skills Development Scotland.

The full list of finalists for the 2015 SQA Star Awards is available here