Finalists set to shine at SQA Star Awards

Two inspirational school pupils contributing to their local community; college students who are ambassadors for the participation of disabled people in sport; a college lecturer who championed the introduction of a new mental health qualification; and a college course giving veterans new found independence, 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.

Jonathan Marshall, and Jason McIlroy are finalists in the Young Person of the Year category. This is a new award at the SQA Star Awards, and was introduced as part of SQA’s Year of Young People 2018 activities, to celebrate the outstanding achievements of young people whilst working towards their SQA qualifications.

When Jonathan joined Clydeview Academy he was confined to a flatbed wheelchair, and unable to join his classmates in most aspects of school life. Jonathan’s determined attitude saw him learn to walk again, and make a hugely positive impact on both the school and the local community.  

Inverclyde Academy pupil Jason struggled to engage during his early years at the school. This changed when he began working towards SQA awards in Personal Achievement and Volunteering Skills. He embraced the opportunity to participate in community initiatives and is now a positive role model for younger pupils.

Close friends Reegan Stevenson, and Ross Munro are both National Certificate (NC) Sports and Fitness students at Ayrshire College. They are both shortlisted in the College Candidate of the Year category for their determination not to let their disability hold them back from pursuing their love of sport. Not only do Reegan and Ross compete at an international level, they also use their free time to inspire other disabled young people.

Shining in the SQA Champion category is Glasgow Clyde College lecturer Kirsten Amis. Kirsten played a key role working with SQA on the development of the new Higher National Diploma (HND) in Counselling. The first cohort of students has recently graduated, and are already helping to meet the growing need for services which support good mental health.

A partnership between the HND in Fitness, Health and Exercise course at West College Scotland and the Scottish War Blinded Centre in Paisley is seeing ex-servicemen enjoying new found levels of confidence and independence thanks to personalised exercise programmes devised by the students. It has also led to them being shortlisted in the Innovation category.

All the finalists have been invited to a spectacular ceremony at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow on Friday 09 November.

They will be recognised 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, fourteen awards will be presented on the night for categories including School Candidate of the Year, Partnership of the Year, and Training Organisation Candidate of the Year.

SQA believed that young people would be best placed to judge the Young Person of the Year category, and so a group of six young people reviewed the submissions. The judging panel included two of SQA’s own Modern Apprentices, along with a representative from youth charities MCR Pathways, Who Cares? Scotland, Young Scot, and the Scottish Youth Parliament.

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 an individual who has made exceptional contributions to education and training in Scotland throughout their career.

SQA Chief Executive, Dr Janet Brown, said: “The quality of the nominations for this year’s awards has been outstanding. We have seen first-hand the dedication and commitment, shown by the candidates studying for SQA qualifications, and the passion and ingenuity of the teachers, lecturers, and specialists delivering our courses across the country, throughout the UK, and indeed around the world. I congratulate all the finalists on making it this far and I 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 the General Teaching Council for Scotland, Skills Development Scotland, and the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework Partnership.

View the full list of SQA Star Awards 2018 finalists.