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Angus to the Fore at SQA Awards Ceremony

A former pupil of a Dundee High School, and an innovative community project that aims to upskill women from minority ethnic backgrounds, two dedicated social workers, and a project to develop a new qualification in animal welfare were among the winners and highly commended finalists at the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) Star Awards.

Declan Shafi, a former pupil of St Paul’s RC Academy in Dundee, was named School Candidate of the Year. Declan, who is now studying Mathematics at Cambridge University, was recognised for using his talent for maths to support and inspire younger pupils at the school.

Staff and students from Dundee International Women’s Centre (DIWC) were celebrating too after being presented with the Promoting Inclusion award.

Highly commended on the night were Vicky Graham, and Carole Brunton, two members of Angus Council’s social work department were finalists in the Lifelong Learning Candidate of the Year category, and Dundee and Angus College, which was recognised for its partnership with Camperdown Wildlife Centre which saw the development of a SQA National Progression Award in Zoo Animal Behaviour and Welfare.

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

The judges were impressed with the innovative approach Dundee International Women’s Centre took to offering its service users the chance to work towards recognised SQA qualifications.

The centre gave users the chance to work towards a SQA National Progression Award in Playwork and Childcare, which had the dual benefit of providing the centre with an in-house nursery.

As a result, service users are able to pursue further SQA qualifications, including the SQA Employability Award, whilst gaining skills through the centre’s existing Employment Project while friends and colleagues elsewhere in the centre were looking after their children.

Teaching staff at St Paul’s RC Academy saw Declan’s potential early on in his school career. His talent, and dedication was apparent across the school but it was also his commitment to helping younger pupils with their understanding of mathematics that really stood out. His support and mentoring of younger pupils bared fantastic results when the school’s Enterprising Maths team regularly lifted local competition titles. His support has seen the school win at these events on many occasions.

The winners were presented with their awards at a glittering ceremony at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow.

SQA Chief Executive, Fiona Robertson, said: “The SQA Star Awards are a fantastic celebration of the commitment, and talent of young people from across Scotland, and the dedication of the teams at SQA centres that deliver our courses and qualifications here in Scotland, across the rest of the UK, and around the world. I have been inspired by the stories that I have heard tonight, especially the entrepreneurial spirit shown by our two Pride o’ Worth winners. It has been a pleasure to meet with all of our finalists this evening, and I congratulate every single person here on their outstanding achievements.”

Education Secretary John Swinney said: “All those receiving awards and commendation have shown an outstanding drive and devotion to learning in their chosen field. My congratulations to the winners and finalists for their achievements.

“The variety of routes taken by the learners across the categories demonstrates the immense diversity of their ambitions, and I am grateful to the SQA for its work in creating and expanding the options available.”

The SQA Star Awards were hosted by TV personality and entrepreneur Carole Smillie and are supported by a number of sponsors, including the General Teaching Council for Scotland, Skills Development Scotland, and the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework Partnership.

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