Education Partnership North East’s (EPNE) digital skills and innovation lead, Dan Fitzpatrick, has won a prestigious award for championing digital successes across the region and beyond. 

Dan, who has led the college group’s ambitious digital transformation since being appointed in 2021, was named Tech Champion at the annual Dynamites Awards which showcase the North East’s innovative and successful tech sector. 

Through his work with EPNE, which includes Hartlepool Sixth Form, Northumberland College and Sunderland College, and as an education consultant at the Edufuturists initiative, Dan was praised for his support of enhancing digital skills and culture, while providing encouragement, leadership, and direction for others. 

After receiving his award, Dan said: “Winning this award is a testament to the fact education needs to change. We need to revolutionise the way young people are taught so they are far better prepared for the world they are heading into. 

With vast experience of creating digital strategies across organisations and driving the use of educational technology, Dan is EPNE’s most senior voice on digital learning, offering expert advice on learning trends and innovation. 

He has played a key role in the creation of an Innovation Space at Sunderland College’s Bede Campus, which includes an award-winning Immersive Space – a cutting edge fully integrated seven-metre cylinder which creates shared VR environments for students studying a range of T Levels and vocational subjects – supporting staff to embed this new technology into curriculum design. Similar immersive spaces are to be installed across EPNE’s regional colleges and campuses. 

Dan has also provided CPD activities to staff to help them achieve certified qualifications, while organising festivals and expos to celebrate and showcase the exciting and dynamic digital technology and creative sector to EPNE’s thousands of students. 

Earlier this year, EPNE was recognised by Microsoft for its innovative approach to digital teaching and learning, being accepted into the tech giants’ prestigious Showcase Incubator School Programme. 

Judith Quinn, Vice Principal for Curriculum Enhancement and Innovation, added: “I am delighted that Dan’s hard work, supporting the enhancement of digital skills and learning innovation has been recognised at the Dynamites Awards. 

“Digital excellence and the use of immersive technology has taken a real step forward across EPNE, ensuring students and staff are developing the relevant digital skills for the future. Congratulations again to Dan on this fantastic achievement.” 

The ninth annual Dynamites awards were held in Newcastle Civic Centre’s Banqueting Hall and organised by Dynamo, the region’s industry-led tech network. 

Sponsored by Nigel Wright Recruitment and hosted by comedian Carl Hutchinson, 12 awards were handed out, ranging from the popular People’s Choice to Sustainability in Tech, with tech companies, individuals and IT departments nominated. 

Charlie Hoult, Chair of the Dynamo Advisory Board, said: “What a fantastic night and what a way to celebrate a sector that continues to exceed expectations – and one which the region should be mightily proud of. 

“The record number of entries and attendees says much about the popularity of the event, but it’s also further evidence of a buoyant, confident sector that is becoming more and more important to the region’s economy.” 

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