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Edinburgh Stars set to shine at Education Awards

Posted: 1st November 2019

The founder of Edinburgh College’s first ever student-led shop; a high achieving Edinburgh school pupil; and a café providing traditional Punjabi cuisine to the people of Edinburgh whilst giving women training and employment opportunities, are the running for a prestigious prize at this year’s Scottish Qualification Authority (SQA) Star Awards.

When a retail space became available at his Edinburgh College campus, HND Retail Management student Dean Clark lost no time in launching the college’s first student-led shop, Bizarre-Bazaar. Dean used the opportunity to give his fellow students valuable practical experience, and it is this selfless attitude which has seen him shortlisted in the College Candidate of the Year category.

St George’s School for Girls pupil Anushka Irodi excels in Science and Mathematics. Her dedication to her studies, as well as her many other contributions to the school community, has seen her shortlisted in the Academic Excellence category.

Punjabi Junction is an Edinburgh based social enterprise café where the chefs come from the city’s minority ethnic community. The mainly female staff are now having their skills formally recognised thanks to a partnership with training provider Xtra-Mile. The partnership is recognised in two SQA Star Awards categories – Promoting Inclusion, and Lifelong Learning (Centres).

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.

Whilst juggling family and work commitments, Dean involved 30 students from across various departments in the set-up of Bizarre-Bazaar. Apprentice joiners and painters decorated the shop, whilst creations by Art and Design students were sold in the shop. He also involved the wider local community by giving job seekers valuable work experience. Such was the success of the shop, that Deputy First Minister John Swinney paid a visit earlier this year.

Anushka Irodi put her academic prowess to the test by competing successfully in Chemistry and Physics Olympiads. She led a group in the Talent 2030 competition, looking at novel engineering solutions for care of the elderly. If that wasn’t enough, Anushka also volunteers at a care home and was elected Prefect at St George’s School for Girls, with responsibility for Careers Education.

In partnering with Xtra-Mile, Punjabi Junction were able to offer a hospitality apprenticeship, which saw women who may otherwise have felt excluded from education achieve SQA qualifications in Hospitality Services and Food Production. The ladies’ confidence has been further increased through delivering cooking classes, outside catering, and running a food outlet at Edinburgh University.

All the Edinburgh finalists have been invited to join the other finalists for a spectacular ceremony at 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 General Teaching Council for Scotland, the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework Partnership and Skills Development Scotland.

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