Winners dazzle in the spotlight at SQA’s Star Awards

Pride o' Worth Winners Jonathan Marshall, and Nicola McKenzie of Glasgow Clyde College collect their awards from John Swinney MSP, Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills

Young people from across Scotland lit up the stage with a host of wins at the Scottish Qualifications Authority’s annual Star Awards.

Student teacher Jonathan Marshall, lifted SQA’s prestigious individual Pride o’ Worth Award, after earlier being named School Candidate of the Year. The judging panel unanimously recognised Jonathan’s outstanding bravery and determination to overcome significant health challenges, and his positive contribution to life at his former school, Clydeview Academy in Gourock. 

Not only did he excel at his SQA qualifications, Jonathan also achieved a Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award, participated regularly in school shows, and sang in the Inverclyde Youth Choir. He also managed to find time to mentor younger pupils at nearby Moorfoot Primary School.

Meanwhile, Glasgow Clyde College was named Pride o’ Worth winner for centres – schools, colleges, training providers, and employers that deliver SQA qualifications – for its School-College Inclusion Programme, which also was named winner of the Promoting Inclusion Award earlier in the evening.

Jason McIlroy is presented with his Young Person of the Year Award by Deputy First Minister John Swinney MSP

Seizing his moment in the spotlight, was former Inverclyde Academy pupil, Jason McIlroy, who was named SQA’s inaugural Young Person of the Year. Despite struggling to engage with school from an early age, Jason changed course after he joined a Wider Achievement group at high school, and began working towards SQA awards in Personal Achievement and Volunteering Skills.

Jason embraced the opportunity to participate in community initiatives, volunteering at the Belville Community Garden in Greenock, where he developed his leadership skills. Jason has been so successful, he is now a positive role model for younger pupils.

Marking the Year of Young People 2018, SQA’s Young Person of the Year is a special award judged independently by a panel of young people including SQA Modern Apprentices, and representatives from MCR Pathways, Who Cares? Scotland, Young Scot, and the Scottish Youth Parliament.

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 education and training.

At the start of the night, Tim Chan received the Academic Excellence award for having the highest combined results in the country, scored across all his Advanced Higher courses while he was a sixth year pupil at The Glasgow Academy.

Ross Munro, winner of the College Candidate of the Year Award

Also among those celebrating their success were Ayrshire College students – and good friends – Reegan Stevenson, and Ross Munro, who were both nominated in the College Candidate of the Year category. Both Reegan and Ross are studying for a National Certificate in Sport and Fitness at the college’s Kilmarnock campus, and are successful wheelchair athletes competing at international level in Boccia and Powerchair Football. This time Ross narrowly edged out Reegan, and the other finalists Stuart Patterson from Glasgow Kelvin College, and Elaine Penman, a student at West College Scotland, to lift the trophy.

Recognising the teachers, lecturers, and education professionals that deliver SQA qualifications at schools, colleges, and training providers, the SQA Champion award was presented to Glasgow Clyde College lecturer Kirsten Amis, for her work developing a new Higher National Diploma in Counselling, giving students an alternative route into a career in the profession. Teacher Ann Morgan-Thomas was named SQA Appointee of the Year.

Presented with the Lifelong Learning Candidate, and Training Organisation Candidate of the Year awards were Sharon Logan of the Childcare Management Company, and Callum MacDonald of Midlothian Council, respectively. 

Among the other SQA centres to receive an award were Dundee and Angus College in the Partnership of the Year category for its Digital Mile initiative. The Good Shepherd Centre in Bishopton was named winner of the Innovation Award for its role in developing SQA’s new Mental Health and Wellbeing Award – qualifications that have the potential to have a major positive impact on the young people across the country.

Glasgow Clyde College had further cause for celebration when it was announced as the winner of the Lifelong Learning Centre award for its Community Learning and Development programme.

SQA centres from further afield were also recognised on the night. Darlington-based Thermal Insulation Contractors Association (TICA) were named Centre of the Year in the wider UK, while Saegis Campus in Sri Lanka was named SQA’s International Centre of the Year.

Lorna Trainer was presented with the SQA's highest accolade, the SQA Fellowship

In all seventeen awards were presented at a spectacular ceremony at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow, including SQA’s highest accolade, the SQA Fellowship, which was presented to Lorna Trainer, board member, and vice-chair of the Scottish Training Federation, member of the Federation of Small Business policy unit, and a member of SQA’s Advisory Council.

Speaking about the winners and highly commended finalists, SQA Chief Executive, Dr Janet Brown, said: “Every year I am amazed by the stories of achievement, ingenuity, and accomplishment of our Star Awards winners. Every one of them, and all the highly commended finalists, fully deserve the recognition that they have received here tonight.  

“I congratulate all the winners, but I am particularly pleased to see Jonathan, Jason and all the other young people recognised not only for their own achievements, but for the outstanding contributions they make to their local communities, helping others, and acting as a role-models for younger pupils.  Year of Young People 2018 provides organisations like SQA with the opportunity to champion the achievements of young people, and give them a platform upon which they can demonstrate their talents. 

“The SQA Star Awards provide us with a fantastic opportunity to recognise young people for their achievements, but also acknowledge the outstanding work of our centres, the teachers, the lecturers, and the trainers who deliver our qualifications every day. The awards ceremony is our chance to thank those who give our learners the guidance, support, and encouragement they need to realise their potential.”

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said: “These awards are a great opportunity to recognise the hard work and success of our young people across Scotland and the education and training providers who support them. 

“I would like to congratulate all of the winners and finalists on their fantastic achievements and wish them every success for the future.”

The SQA Star Awards were hosted by TV and radio presenter Kaye Adams and were supported by a number of sponsors; including the General Teaching Council for Scotland, Skills Development Scotland, and the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework Partnership.

Follow #SQAStarAwards for updates from the cermony.