The Evolve Awards, which are the first of its kind for both organisations honoured their employees for their hard work and dedication across the college group.

650 employees were invited to attend the dazzling event held at Sunderland College’s Bede Campus, to celebrate the contributions of fellow employees across seven categories, including Above and Beyond, All-star Values, Bright Spark, Leader of the Year, Teacher of the Year, Unsung Hero and special category, The Principal’s Award.

Chief Executive and Principal of Sunderland College, Ellen Thinnesen led the award ceremony and introduced internationally-renowned motivational speaker, Richard McCann, the son of Wilma McCann the first victim of the Yorkshire Ripper, who addressed the audience with an inspirational speech.

Ahead of the ceremony, staff members were invited to vote for their most admired colleagues, along with the reason why they should receive special recognition. A panel of judges sifted through the dozens of nominations and employees made the final vote on the overall winning individuals and teams across each category.

The Above and Beyond award was the first honour presented at the event and was won by Linda Wilkinson, Front of House Administrator. Joanne Roulstone, Head of Teaching, Learning and Assessment, and the Hospitality, Tourism and Engagement Team won the All-star Values award, James Donkin, Course Tutor of Science received the Bright Spark award, Brenda Robson, Director of Quality, Teaching, Learning and Assessment won Leader of the Year, Lauren Robinson, Lecturer in Performance was awarded Teacher of the Year, Fernando Mora, Head of IT received the Unsung Hero award and the final award of the event, The Principal’s Award, was won by Jean Herron Cleaner at Sunderland College for consistently demonstrating the college’s values and ensuring students receive the best possible experience throughout their time at Sunderland College.

Ellen Thinnesen, Principal and Chief Executive at Sunderland College, said: “We value our colleagues and believe that employee recognition and reward is vital to further enhancing a positive culture.

“We organised the Evolve Awards to bring our colleagues together and to recognise the great work that they do and the invaluable contribution they make. It is important that our employees are seen as valued members to the wider college group and the celebration is fundamental to increasing overall motivation and morale.
“The celebration marks a number of initiatives we host to reward and recognise our colleagues, and follows our annual long-service awards which celebrate those members of staff who have achieved 20, 30, and 40 years’ service with the organisation.
“We are committed to celebrating the contributions of our colleagues and intend for such events to become an integral part of our culture.
“Well done to each and every person that took the time to nominate their colleagues and a special thank you to each of our fantastic winners for their ongoing dedication and commitment.”
Winner of the Unsung Hero Award, Fernando Mora, Head of IT for Sunderland College, said: (to insert quote received from Fernando at the ceremony)
The Evolve Awards recognise the excellence, dedication and innovation of Sunderland College and Hartlepool Sixth Form’s employees, who make outstanding contributions to the life of both organisations and demonstrate their core values.

Notes to editors

Sunderland College and Hartlepool Sixth Form merged in September 2017 and along with Northumberland College to form part of the wider college group, Education Partnership North East. Hartlepool Sixth Form is the only dedicated sixth form in Hartlepool and is a leading provider of high-quality educational opportunities. Sunderland College is one of the largest providers of education in the North East of England. Both organisations were awarded a ‘Good’ Ofsted rating at the last inspection. Combined, Sunderland College and Hartlepool Sixth Form have an overall A-Level pass rate of 99.1%.
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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