Cardiff-based training provider ACT Limited completed a notable double at this year’s Apprenticeship Awards Cymru as two members of staff won the Work-based Learning Assessor and Tutor of the Year awards.
Described by the company as a ‘treasured tutor’, Kirsty Keane collected the tutor award while innovative workmate Carly Murray received the assessor award at the ceremony held at the Celtic Manor Resort, Newport on November 9.
Kirsty originally thought that there was only one award for work-based learning tutors and assessors and was celebrating Carly winning. “Carly was my assessor so I know how amazing she is and I feel so happy for her,” she said.
“I feel really shocked and overwhelmed to win the award, but it’s nice to be recognised. This award is an endorsement of my work and demonstrates to learners that they can trust me.
“The environment in which I work is really challenging as my learners come from different backgrounds and I want to see them progress and go far in their lives.”
Pregnant Carly, who is expecting a daughter in February, said: “I am absolutely flabbergasted. I am on cloud nine and think I am hallucinating because of my pregnancy!
“When I was watching what the other finalists had done, I thought I wouldn’t win, but I am really honoured to be the lucky one chosen.”
Sarah John, National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW) chair, said: “It is important to recognise the contribution that assessors and tutors make to the learning journey of young people. It’s evident that the personal relationship that they develop is the key method to motivate and encourage young people to achieve.”
The annual awards are designed to showcase and celebrate the outstanding achievements of learners, employers, tutors and assessors who have excelled in contributing to the development of the Welsh Government’s Traineeships and Apprenticeship Programmes.
Jointly organised by the Welsh Government and the National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW), the coveted awards are supported by media partner, Media Wales. The Apprenticeship Programme is funded by the Welsh Government with support from the European Social Fund.
Working with 16-18-year-olds as a Health and Social Care and Early Years Care tutor since 2015, Kirsty has successfully supported 91 learners through a Level 1 Traineeship in Care with a 100% progression rate, an outstanding achievement at Traineeship level.
This progression can be attributed to Kirsty making time for her learners, listening to their hopes, dreams and fears, at the same time planning unique learner experiences that exceed expectations for people often with complex needs and barriers.
Still aged only 26, Kirsty has 10 years’ experience as a disability support worker and one-to-one learning support worker. Her personal development is outstanding with a PGCE Post-16, BA Hons Degree in Early Childhood Studies and Education and Cache Level 3 Diploma in Childcare and Education.
Her passion for innovation has seen her attend a seminar on singing for dementia, bringing in a subject expert to lecture her students which in turn led to improvement in ACT’s best practice.
Kirsty also arranged a Golden Oldies afternoon of fun at ACT where Hair and Beauty, Catering and Care learners all gained practical and valuable experience.
“My real reward is seeing my learners progress onto something enjoyable and meaningful,” said Kirsty.
For the past five years, Carly, 35, has been the Internal Quality Assurance assessor for the education and development team at ACT Limited. She delivers Apprenticeships in Learning and Development and Higher Apprenticeships in Advice and Guidance.
In addition to the 30 learners she trains herself, Carly also works with a team of 14, which comprises assessors, tutors, mentors and advisers, all working in a variety of support-related sectors, to whom she offers support and guidance.
“I think my background, having been a traveller and missing a significant portion of my early schooling, means I have a deep respect for learner diversity and the ability to learn and prosper in a multitude of ways,” she said.
“I love learning and think this enthusiasm can be contagious. I’m constantly exploring theories, ideas and types of practice that can be utilised by myself and my team.”
Carly studied at Queen’s University, Belfast before gaining her PGCE at Exeter University. She began her career teaching literacy to children from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds.
She branched out to planning and facilitating study programmes which supported young people, who were at risk of offending, into further work and training. Carly then undertook adult literacy/numeracy qualifications and became an Essential Skills tutor for Traineeships and Apprenticeships.
With more than 14 years’ experience within the education and training industry, she constantly exceeds ACT Limited’s ‘excellent’ assessor target. More than 90% of her learners complete their qualification and she has twice achieved a 100% success rate in the past five years.
Her many achievements include helping to develop a new advice and guidance learning programme for schools with Careers Wales and ACT Limited, which was launched in March.
Minister for Welsh Language and Lifelong Learning, Eluned Morgan congratulated Carly and Kirsty together with the other award winners and finalists for setting the gold standard for Apprenticeships and Traineeships.
She praised them for going the extra mile to support apprentices and trainees and for their commitment to the Apprenticeships and Traineeships Programmes in Wales.
“The Welsh Government regards Apprenticeships as a priority area and, with support from the European Social Fund, has committed to creating a minimum of 100,000 high quality all-age Apprenticeships over this Assembly term,” said the Minister.
“We have a clear vision for addressing the needs of Welsh businesses, developing skills pathways and increasing higher level skills that benefit the whole of Wales. If the Welsh economy is to continue to grow, then we must work together to equip Wales with a world class workforce.”