High achievements honoured at SQA Star Awards

A newly qualified nursery teacher, and a training partnership between a Motherwell secondary school and a global engineering firm were among the big winners at the 2015 Scottish Qualifications Authority Star Awards.

Amanda Bowden

Amanda Bowden, who works at Treasure Island nursery in Castle Douglas, was named the individual Pride o’ Worth winner, one of SQA’s highest accolades, after also lifting the award for Training Organisation Candidate of the Year.

Amanda, who joined Treasure Island in 2012 as the nursery cook, impressed the judging panel after going on to study for a level 3 SQA SVQ in childcare. Mandy’s employers recognised that she had a particular affinity for working with children who required extra help and encouraged her to apply for a position working closely with a child with additional support needs.

Also celebrating were Dalziel High School and Amec Foster Wheeler who were recognised in the Partnership of the Year category.

The partnership between the school and the engineering firm, which encourages young people in Lanarkshire to take an interest in and pursue training opportunities in science, technology, engineering and maths courses, impressed the judging panel so much that it went on to win the SQA Pride o’ Worth award for Centres.

The Pride o’ Worth awards; so named after SQA’s motto and taken from Robert Burns’ poem, “A Man’s a Man for A’ That”, were just two of the seventeen awards presented on the night. 

Pride o' Worth

SQA’s highest accolade, the SQA Fellowship, was presented to Ken Cunningham, former general secretary of School Leaders Scotland and Martyn Rouse, professor emeritus at the University of Aberdeen’s School of Education.

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.

This year, the SQA Star Awards recognised the 25th anniversary of Scottish Vocational Qualifications and the contribution they have made to education and training across the country.  

A special SQA SVQ Champion award, presented by Angela Constance MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, was given to auxiliary nurse Kate O’May from Campbeltown, who has championed SVQs for over two decades.

Celebrating too were Glasgow twins Umut and Baran Karakus, who jointly lifted the Academic Excellence Award after receiving identical results across the 20 Highers and Advanced Highers they achieved in their fifth year at the city’s St Thomas Aquinas Secondary School.

Kai Man, a sixth year pupil at Bannerman High School in Glasgow was named School Candidate of the Year while former roofer Stephen Wilson was named College Candidate of the Year after changing career to study sports coaching at Ayrshire College. 

SQA centres from beyond Scotland were also recognised on the night.  South Tyneside College in South Shields near Newcastle was named Wider UK and Ireland Centre of the Year, while LCCI Nepal, which delivers SQA HNCs and HNDs in Hospitality, was named the winner of the International Award.

Also among the winners were teachers David Jack of Gleniffer High School in Paisley and Alan Delaney of Shawlands Academy in Glasgow who were named Appointee of the Year and Nominee of the Year respectively.

Inverclyde Council’s Community Learning Development programme was named Lifelong Learning Centre of the Year, while Ayrshire College’s Kilmarnock Campus won the Innovation Award for its community health programme.

John McTaggart from Ayrshire College was named SQA Champion while Shannon Whyte from Tullibody won the Lifelong Learning Candidate award.

Dr Janet Brown, SQA Chief Executive, said: “The SQA Star Awards are our opportunity to recognise the fantastic achievements in education and training, not just in Scotland, but increasingly around the world.  The Star Awards ceremony gives us a chance to congratulate in person the outstanding candidates and centres working towards and delivering our qualifications. This year’s winners are no exception. Their success stories are inspirational and I congratulate each and every one of them.”

Star Awards winners 2015

Angela Constance MSP, said: “These awards are an excellent illustration of the breadth of opportunities offered through learning, with pupils, teachers, businesses, centres and lifelong learners all among the winners. As we continue to embed Curriculum for Excellence in Scotland’s education system, it is great to see so many positive stories demonstrating excellence and commitment to Scottish education and lifelong learning. I congratulate all of winners on their achievements.”

Robert Birch, Head Teacher at Dalziel High School, said: “We want to give our young people the best opportunities when they leave school and that means getting them into good employment. There are some fantastic engineering jobs out there and our partnership switches youngsters on to the potential careers available to them. It is a fantastic honour to have our work recognised.”

Steve King, Corporate Design Manager at Amec Foster Wheeler, said: “The partnership with the school is about enthusing pupils at all academic levels about engineering as a possible career."

Amanda Bowden said: “It’s been a journey for me and at times I didn’t think that I could do it. You always think studying is for younger people. So after friends said to me ‘you can do this,’ I started to believe in myself and this is where I am today.”

The SQA Star Awards, held at the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh, were 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.




SQA Star Awards 2015 – Winners and Highly Commended Finalists

SQA Scottish Vocational Qualification Champion

Kate O’May, Argyll & Bute Council

Highly Commended 
Michael Swan, Dundee & Angus College
Gordon Gibb, Polaris Learning, Aberdeenshire

Academic Excellence

Joint Winners
Baran and Umut Karakus, St Thomas Aquinas Secondary School, Glasgow

Highly Commended
Catriona Benn, The Mary Erskine School, Edinburgh

Appointee of the Year

David Jack, Gleniffer High School, Paisley

Highly Commended
Carolyn Laird, New College Lanarkshire, 
Carol Thomson, Glasgow    

Nominee of the Year

Alan Delaney, Shawlands Academy, Glasgow

Highly Commended
Louise Adam, Braeview Academy, Dundee
Debbie Green, St Roch’s Secondary School, Glasgow
Steven Hider, Broxburn Academy, West Lothian

Partnership of the Year

Dalziel High School and Amec Foster Wheeler 

Highly Commended 
Customer Service Professional Qualifications and Renfrewshire Council 
Glasgow Clyde College and Glasgow City Council Education Services

Lifelong Learning (Centres)

Inverclyde Council Community Learning Development

Highly Commended
City Building

Centre of the Year in the Wider UK & Ireland

South Tyneside College, South Shields

Highly Commended
Superdrug plc
Cable and Splicing Services Ltd


LCCI Nepal PvT Ltd.

Highly Commended
ZADCO, Abu Dhabi, UAE

Innovation of the Year

Ayrshire College - Kilmarnock Campus

Highly Commended
West Highland College UHI
Ayrshire College - Ayr Campus    

Lifelong Learning (Candidate) 

Shannon Whyte, Forth Valley College, 

Highly Commended
Sheila Musson, Angus Council
Rhonda Shepherd, West College Scotland

SQA Champion

John McTaggart, Ayrshire College

Highly Commended
Helen Muir, Dawnfresh Group
Fred Fudge, West Highland College UHI

Training Organisation Candidate of the Year

Amanda Bowden, Step Up, Castle Douglas

Highly Commended
James Allison, VSA SVQ Centre, Aberdeen
Reece Phimister, Ambition Centre for Training, Paisley
Lisa Finnigan, Scottish Meat Training, Inverurie

School Candidate of the Year

Kai Man, Bannerman High School, Glasgow

Highly Commended
Eve Mackenzie, Cumbernauld Academy
Mairi Shaw, Notre Dame High School, Greenock
Nour Traboulsi, Queensferry Community High School, South Queensferry    

College Candidate of the Year

Stephen Wilson, Ayrshire College, Kilmarnock

Highly Commended
Fiona Lang, Argyll College, Campbeltown
Kimberley Hamilton, West College Scotland, Paisley

Pride o’ Worth (Centre)

Dalziel High School and Amec Foster Wheeler 

Pride o’ Worth (Individual)

Amanda Bowden, Step up, Castle Douglas

SQA Fellowship

Dr Ken Cunningham and Professor Martyn Rouse