Finalists set to shine at SQA Star Awards

Wednesday 05 October

A budding outdoorsman, a community worker supporting Syrian refugees, and a septuagenarian with over 77 separate qualifications under her belt are among the finalists for 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.

Teenager Zeki Basan, a finalist in the College Candidate of the Year category, has been living in a tepee on the Isle of Skye for the past year while attending West Highland College UHI to study Outdoor Adventure (Sport and fitness).  Now studying Adventure Leadership at SCQF level 6, Zeki continues to live off the land (with the local land-owner’s permission); honing his bushcraft skills all the while maintaining a perfect attendance record at college.

Also attending on the night will be Ada Pagan from Edinburgh. Over the past 41 years, 77-year old Ada has amassed a total of 77 separate qualifications; including 17 Highers, and Higher National Diplomas in Business Administration, and Languages and Tourism.  Life-long learner Ada left school in 1958 without any qualifications; however, it wasn’t until almost 20-years later that she returned to education enrolling in evening and part-time courses re-starting her learner-journey.

Nominated in the Training Organisation Candidate of the Year category, Jason Smith is by his own admission a reformed character. From having significant challenges in school and throughout his teenage years, Jason is now a Community Youth Worker and using the common language of sport, particularly football, he recently helped young Syrian refugees resettle in Clydebank. 

Jason, Ada, and Zeki, 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 11 November for a night of celebration. 

They and their fellow nominees 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, thirteen awards will be presented on the night for categories including School Candidate of the Year, Partnership of the Year, Appointee of the Year, and SQA Champion.

This year SQA will also present its first Star Award for Promoting Inclusion; the finalists in this hotly contended category include Dundee and Angus College, Craigroyston High School in Edinburgh, and West Highland College UHI.

Of all 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: “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 provide a fantastic opportunity to recognise learners for their achievements, and also acknowledge the outstanding work of our centres – the schools, colleges, training providers, and employers who deliver our qualifications. The awards ceremony gives us a chance to thank those who give our learners the guidance, support, and encouragement they need to realise their potential.”

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

For details on the full list of this year's finalists, click here