SQA stars shine at night of celebration

3 November 2017

Tricia Lowe, winner of the Pride of Worth (Individual) award, and Sharifa Ahmed Al-Ghazali, Vice Dean of Muscat College in Oman, winners of the Pride o' Worth (Centre) award.

An inspiring manager at Angus Council, and a respected further education college forging connections between Scotland and the Middle East, were among the winners at the annual Scottish Qualifications Authority Star Awards, which celebrate excellence in education and training.

Tricia Lowe, an Acting Assessment Centre Manager within Angus Council’s Social Work department, was presented with the SQA Champion Award, before being announced as the individual Pride o’ Worth winner

Tricia was nominated by her colleagues at the council, in recognition of the support she has provided many of her co-workers, helping them to build successful careers by encouraging them to undertake Scottish Vocational Qualifications.

Tricia Lowe, is pictured with Dr Janet Brown, SQA Chief Executive; John Swinney MSP, Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education; and SQA Chair, David Middleton

Muscat College in Oman was named the Pride o’ Worth Centre winner, following earlier success in the International Centre category. 

The college is one of the oldest further education colleges in the country, and has been delivering Scottish Qualifications Authority certificates and diplomas for over 16 years. In partnering with Stirling University, students completing SQA diplomas in Computing Science, and Business and Accounting courses at the college are able to progress onto years two or three of degree level programmes at the Scottish university.

Sharifa Ahmed Al-Ghazali, Vice Dean of Muscat College in Oman, is pictured with Dr Janet Brown, John Swinney MSP, and David Middleton

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.

Students who have shown exceptional dedication to their studies were amongst the other winners on the night.

Whilst progressing from a National Certificate to a Higher National Diploma at Ayrshire College, James O’Neill has shared his coaching skills with his local community, and provided over 5,000 hours of volunteering work. He was rewarded by being named College Candidate of the Year.

Another young volunteer was recognised in the School Candidate of the Year category. Jack Park is not only an outstanding student at Kilmarnock Academy, he also dedicates much of his time away from school to his local Boys Brigade group and coaching community teams with Kilmarnock FC, where he is an excellent role model for the younger children.

Taking Academic Excellence to dazzling heights was category winner Elle Wyatt. During her time at the High School of Dundee, Elle achieved 100% in Advanced Higher Maths, and high scores in a number of science based Advanced Highers. 

Audrey Diamond, an English teacher from Kirkcaldy High School, has shown outstanding dedication to her colleagues and pupils during her 20 years as an SQA Appointee. Audrey, along with thousands of SQA Appointees across Scotland, support the delivery of SQA’s annual diet of examinations and assessments. Her efforts were recognised when she scooped the Appointee of the Year award.

Other stars that shone on the night were Susanne Arnott from the Childcare Management Company, who was named Lifelong Learner of the Year, and Roxanne Kerr, who came top in the Training Organisation Candidate category, for her efforts at Kent-based APeducation Online.

The SilverNote Music project at North East Scotland College in Aberdeen has enhanced the learning experience of students by offering them relevant work experience in the local community. The project gives budding engineers, musicians, film-makers and photographers the opportunity to work together, and with industry experts, to create evidence for their course work and assessment. The novel approach saw the project claim the Innovation category at the awards.

Another SQA entry to impress the judges with their efforts to support their students was the Thermal Insulation Contracting Association (TICA). At their base in Darlington, Thermal Insulation apprentices benefit from newly designed, fabricated and installed training rigs. TICA were delighted to be announced as Centre of the Year in the Wider UK.

The partnership between the University of Strathclyde’s ‘Engineering Academy’ and a number of Scotland’s colleges showcases the benefits of organisations working together. Having provided new pathways for students onto engineering degree programmes, the scheme claimed the Partnership of the Year award.

Also announced as category winners were Angus Council, whose Social Work department scooped the Lifelong Learning Centre of the Year award. Glasgow Clyde College claimed the SQA Star Award for Promoting Inclusion, for their efforts to develop inclusivity throughout its campuses.

Receiving SQA’s highest honour on the night, the SQA Fellowship, in recognition of his dedication to providing great learning and teaching, was Grant Ritchie, principal of Dundee and Angus College. Before becoming principal, Grant developed creative industries in the college and worked with SQA on developing the Higher National Certificate and Diploma courses in the Creative Industries.

SQA Chief Executive, Dr Janet Brown, said: “I have been overwhelmed by the dedication of our winners and have been privileged to hear moving stories of learning journeys. Our winners are an inspiration to us all!

“The SQA Star Awards shine a light on the incredible support provided to learners by teachers, lecturers, schools, colleges, employers, and training providers, encouraging them to reach their potential, and it is right that we give our exceptional centres the recognition they truly deserve.

Dr Brown continued: “This evening the excellent work of our colleagues in schools, colleges, workplaces, and training centres, and the achievements of young people and adult learners have been recognised, and we are delighted to shine a spotlight on their success.”

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said: “These awards are a wonderful opportunity to recognise the hard work and achievement of people across Scotland, and of our education and training providers.

“It is absolutely right that we should celebrate these achievements which demonstrate the best in Scottish education and training. I would like to congratulate all the winners and wish them every success for the future.”

The SQA Star Awards ceremony was hosted by TV and radio presenter Kaye Adams, and is supported by a number of sponsors, including the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework Partnership, and Skills Development Scotland.

SQA Star Awards 2017 - Winners and Highly Commended Finalists

Academic Excellence School Candidate of the Year

Elle Wyatt, High School of Dundee

Highly Commended
Jamie Clarkson, James Gillespie's High School
Alexander Früh, St Aloysius' College

Jack Park, Kilmarnock Academy

Highly Commended
Maryam Khan, Scottish Opportunities Centre

Manon Robinson, Glen Urquhart High School  

College Candidate of the Year Training Organisation Candidate of the Year

James O'Neill, Ayrshire College

Highly Commended
Kayleigh Haggo, Ayrshire College
Danielle Stewart, West Highland College UHI

Roxanne Kerr, APeducation Online

Highly Commended
Jack Gibson, Impact Results Ltd.
William Grant, West Highland College UHI

Lifelong Learning: Candidate of the Year Appointee of the Year

Susanne Arnott, Childcare Management Company

Highly Commended
Dave Diamond, Angus Council
Marie Johnston, Grampian Opportunitiese 

Audrey Diamond, Kirkcaldy High School

Highly Commended
Lisa Allan, Barrhead High School
Alex Laird, Portobello High School

SQA Champion Innovation Award

Tricia Lowe, Angus Council

Highly Commended
Sarah Ramminger, Dundee and Angus College
Marie Richardson, Experiential Play

SilverNote Music at North East Scotland College

Highly Commended
Kit Car at Glasgow Kelvin College
Me2u Project at Ayrshire College

Lifelong Learning: Centre of the Year Partnership of the Year

Angus Council Social Work

Highly Commended
Highland Council Learning and Development Assessment Centre

Impact Results Ltd

University of Strathclyde Engineering Academy

Highly Commended
Forth Valley College, Larbert High School, Graeme High School and Police Scotland - Making Learning Work with HNC Police Studies
Inverclyde Council Senior Phase Group

International Centre of the Year Centre of the Year in the wider UK

Muscat College, Oman

Highly Commended
ADNOC Technical Academy, Abu Dhabi
Saegis Campus, Sri Lanka


Thermal Insulation Contractors Association

Highly Commended

Collins Training
Kelly Communications Ltd

Promoting Inclusion

Glasgow Clyde College

Highly Commended
Dundee and Angus College Film Festivalh
University of Strathclyde Engineering Academy

Pride o’ Worth (Centre) Pride o’ Worth (Individual)

Muscat College, Oman

Tricia Lowe, Angus Council

SQA Fellowship

Grant Ritchie, Principal, Dundee and Angus College