Star Awards set to shine a light on finalists’ achievements

A student-run beauty salon which is contributing to the local community by raising funds for a nearby hospice; a nursery manager whose partnership with an elderly care home is proving beneficial for both age groups; and a café which is providing unique learning opportunities for young people with additional support needs, are just some of the finalists at this year’s SQA Star Awards.

The SQA Star Awards recognise the achievements of individuals working towards SQA qualifications as well as the schools, colleges, training providers and employers who help to deliver SQA qualifications — that enable learners to achieve their ambitions.

Beauty with a Conscience is a beauty salon with a difference. Treatments are provided by students on Glasgow Clyde College’s National Qualification (NQ) Beauty course, whilst funds from the salon support the nearby Prince and Princess of Wales Hospice (PPWH). Located in an area of Glasgow with limited employment opportunities, the salon provides students with valuable work experience. The programme, which has been shortlisted in the Innovation category, has given many of the students the confidence to progress to the Higher National Diploma (HND) in Beauty.

An idea by Personal Development Award (PDA) in Childhood Practice student Catherine Schlag also resulted in a partnership which is benefiting her local community in south-west Scotland. Catherine is the manager of a daycare nursey in Castle Douglas, a town in Dumfries and Galloway. As part of her studies, which she is undertaking with Step-Up training, she explored the benefits on inter-generational working. The result has been a highly successful scheme in which nursery children have weekly visits to a local elderly care home. With both age groups benefiting, Catherine has been shortlisted in the Training Organisation Candidate of the Year category.

Taking the initiative is something that College Candidate of the Year finalist Dean Clark is well versed in. When a retail space became available at his Edinburgh College campus, the HND Retail Management student lost no time in launching the college’s first student-led shop, Bizarre-Bazaar. Whilst juggling family and work commitments, Dean used the opportunity to give his fellow students valuable practical experience, including apprentice joiners who fitted out the shop.

Providing a unique learning opportunity was the goal of a partnership between Dumfries and Galloway College and The Usual Place (TUP), a social enterprise café which provides employment for young people with additional support needs (ASN). The college and TUP worked together to create resources which allow the young people to undertake Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQs) in subjects including Professional Cookery, and Hospitality Services. By enabling the students to reach their potential, these Partnership of the Year category finalists are challenging stereotypes of what young people with ASN can achieve.

A pioneering approach has seen Castle Rushen High School become the first school on the Isle of Man to become an SQA centre. In SQA qualifications such as Practical Cookery and Skills for Work Engineering Skills, the school found a way to increase pupil engagement whilst providing them with skills looked for by local employers. The success of the initiative, which has seen the school shortlisted in the Centre of the Year in UK and Ireland category, has led other schools on the island to consider offering SQA qualifications.

All the finalists will come together for an evening of celebration at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow on Friday 15 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, thirteen awards will be presented on the night for categories including School Candidate of the Year, SQA Champion, and Lifelong Learning Centre of the Year.

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, Fiona Robertson, said: “The nominations for this year’s awards reflect the dedication of candidates studying for SQA qualifications, as well as the commitment of teachers, lecturers, and specialists to providing innovative and engaging learning opportunities. The awards will shine a light on inspirational projects taking place in our centres – the schools, colleges, training providers, and employers who deliver our qualifications. I look forward to welcoming our finalists, who will come together from across the country, throughout the UK and beyond, to what promises to be a fantastic evening celebrating some truly remarkable achievements in education.”

The SQA Star Awards will be hosted by TV and radio presenter Kaye Adams and is supported by a number of sponsors, including the College Development Network, the Scottish Training Federation, Skills Development Scotland, the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework Partnership and YouthLink Scotland.

View the full list of SQA Star Awards 2019 finalists.