The hard work and dedication of staff across Education Partnership North East was celebrated at the group’s annual Evolve Awards.  

Employees from Hartlepool Sixth Form, Northumberland College and Sunderland College attended a virtual ceremony to honour their colleagues across seven categories including Teacher of the Year, Local Community Champion and Everyday Hero.  

Education Partnership North East Chief Executive Ellen Thinnesen hosted the event, which was broadcast live via Microsoft Teams in June.  

Ahead of the awards, staff members were invited to submit their nominations with a panel of judges drawing up a shortlist for each award and the winners chosen through an online vote. 

The Outstanding Contribution Award was the first to be presented and was won by Learning Support Coordinator, Judith Taylor, who has adopted new systems and processes to support staff in better understanding the needs of students. 

This year, Teacher of the Year was awarded to outstanding tutors and lecturers from across EPNE’s three colleges with Hartlepool Sixth Form’s Lisa Hall, Northumberland College’s Brooke Nisbet and Jimmy Stobbart from Sunderland College recognised for putting their students first, helping them into meaningful employment and providing them with outstanding learning experiences. 

Work Experience and Placement Lead Victoria Moyse, who has successfully sourced T Level placements for students and coordinated a series of careers fairs across the college group, picked up the All-Star Values Award; Procurement Officer Sam Hammond and Student Welfare Coordinator Jo McCarte won Support Staff/Department of the Year; and Lynne Henderson, Learning and Development Business Partner, was presented with the Bright Spark Innovation Award alongside Electrical Engineering Lecturer Freeman Thondhlana. 

The positive, proactive and hard-working attitude of Salon Professionals Curriculum Manager Deborah Simpson saw her collect the Excellence in Leadership Award; Unsung Hero was won by Job Coach Pam Spence for helping students access new work placements and helping them reach their potential; and Youth Worker Sandra Purvis’ fundraising efforts were rewarded with the Local Community Champion Award. 

Rounding off the event, Head of Exams Claire Hope received the Above and Beyond Award, while English and Maths Lecturer Tamzin George scooped the Growth Mindset prize. 

The Chief Executive’s Awards, given to those who consistently demonstrate the Group’s values while ensuring students receive the best possible experience throughout their time at college, went to Chef Supervisor Karen Charlton (Everyday Hero); Engineering Trainer and Assessors Wayne Smith and Dion Bowes (Strategic Growth); and Business Studies and Law Tutor Jessica Citro (Star Award). 

Following the ceremony, Ellen Thinnesen, said: “The Evolve Awards bring our colleagues together from across our many college campuses, to honour the brilliant work they do and celebrate their invaluable contributions.  

“Employee recognition has never been more important, especially over this past year where staff have excelled in the most challenging of circumstances. It is vitally important we take time to recognise their amazing accomplishments. I’m delighted we received a large volume of nominations, and I am very proud of all our nominees.  

“Thank you to each person who took time to celebrate and vote for so many colleagues. Congratulations to all who were nominated, this is great recognition of the fantastic work you do every day, and a special well done and congratulations to all our winners.”  

The Evolve Awards is one of several Education Partnership North East events which celebrate the excellence, dedication and innovation of staff, alongside ‘Campus Hero of the Month’ and the Long Service Awards which honour staff who have achieved 20, 30 and 40 years’ service with the organisation. 

Why Education Partnership North East (EPNE)?

Highly commended - Employer of the Year, Sunderland Echo Portfolio Awards 2019

Engagement with Employers - Association of Colleges (AoC) Beacon Award 2017

(Sunderland College On-programme Survey 2017)

Selected by DfE for 2021 T Level pilot to deliver the new high-quality technical qualifications.

98% overall employer satisfaction - Employer Survey 2018/19