College wins national award for student enrichment

Staff at Stoke on Trent College are celebrating after members of its student services team were named winners in the ‘education Oscars’ for student services professionals.

The college triumphed at the annual NAMSS awards – short for National Association of Managers in Student Services, winning £1,250 in prize funds for the college as well as high street shopping vouchers to be shared between winning team members.

The college’s Learner Involvement Team won the Student Services Team of the Year award for its extensive enrichment programme, while learner involvement coordinator Calvin Austin won the ‘Unsung Hero’ accolade for his extensive voluntary work to support students on the college’s annual Challenge South Africa project.

The awards recognise the extensive range of enrichment activities on offer at the college, with almost two thirds of all students taking part in extra-curricular activities organised by the learner involvement team. These include 26 weekly activities such as archery, climbing, true grit circuit training, table tennis, badminton, peer mentoring club, rounders and an ability counts football team and dungeons and dragons club. In addition, short courses, sports coaching qualifications and leadership and volunteering opportunities are scheduled throughout the year, including the Challenge South Africa trip.

Unsung Hero award winner, Calvin Austin, has worked at the College for 20 years as Learner Involvement Co-ordinator. The award recognises his work to lead various volunteering challenges, enrichment activities and partnerships with local organisations which benefit students, such as Stoke City Football Club Community Trust and Stoke on Trent School Sport Partnership.

The staff were nominated by Dave Hopley, Director of Student Services at Stoke on Trent College. He explains: “For Calvin and the small team of staff he leads, this is more than just a job. They go far above and beyond, volunteering hours of their own time and contributing to the fundraising effort. He has been involved with the College’s ‘Challenge South Africa’ humanitarian programme since its inception and has led the project for over eleven years.

Calvin and his team have also led further volunteering and exchange activities such as Challenge Poland, which saw students take part in a 3-day visit to Krakow and Auschwitz Concertation Camp. He is also involved with University Challenge, and Challenge Stoke, which involves students in raising awareness and funds for local homeless people in conjunction with Stoke City Football Club and the Lou Macari Centre.”

Dave concludes: “I am extremely proud of the team every day. They are all very dedicated to creating opportunities and exciting experiences for our students.

Both Ofsted and our learners have given excellent feedback on the wide range of activities we offer and it is great to add this award from NAMSS to that recognition. NAMSS has almost 400 members – so to be recognised for good practice amongst those peers is a real boost to us all and shows we go the extra mile for our students.”

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