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BTEC Teaching Awards

Lecturers at Coleg Sir Gâr and Coleg Ceredigion have won awards from the ninth annual BTEC awards which celebrate exceptional teachers whose dedication and passion are inspiring the next generation of future professionals.

Kirsty Williams
Lecturer in Health & Social Care
BTEC Tutor of the Year – Silver Runner-up

Kirsty Williams, a health and social care lecturer at Coleg Sir Gâr, won the silver runners-up award for BTEC Tutor of the Year.

A firm believer that all learners have a unique skills set, that if nurtured correctly, will allow them to gain their desired qualification, Kirsty has nurtured countless students, many with confidence and self-esteem issues through their BTEC qualifications until they achieve their goal of gaining a university or employment offer. “I observed that learners who had stronger vocational attributes than academic attributes were led to believe that they would not achieve,” said Kirsty. “This resulted in a passion to empower vocational learners to pursue their dream career path and to close the inequality gap.”

Here are two examples of Kirsty’s and her team’s achievements:

Cerys’s university offers shows value of vocational training

From no GCSEs to university offer

As part of the college’s teaching and learning team, Kirsty has led research into teaching practices that keep learners continuously engaged and enthused, instilling that success is a result of their own work rather than success being measured by what has been taught, but she also has high expectations of her learners. “I make it the norm that all learners attempt distinction grades,” she said. “I motivate them to actively take part in each element of the qualification by reminding them of their end goal and the competitive side of the sector and this is delivered within a supportive, team driven learning environment.”

Kirsty has been researching and applying effective techniques in response to her interest and findings into effective lesson design and their relation to attention spans and engagement.

Her inspirational work has been shared with staff through staff development sessions and she has actively involved her learners in the process with outstanding feedback on its effectiveness.

Drawing on her experience in industry, Kirsty is keen to empower learners to form part of a varied and skilled workforce and for learners to adopt independence. She closely monitors engagement and adopts different teaching strategies at regular intervals.


Sophia Bechraki
Lecturer in Creative Media Production
BTEC Tutor of the Year – Bronze Award

Coleg Ceredigion creative media production lecturer Sophia Bechraki, won a bronze award for BTEC Tutor of the Year.

Approaching the design of the course with innovation and creativity, this course has an excellent success rate, which is key to Sophia’s experience in industry and her teaching methods which encourage live briefs and independent working, producing learners with high quality employability skills.

It is through her initiatives that the programme won the Inspire Mark for the Cultural Olympiad and that her learners’ film toured throughout Wales as part of the National Library’s outreach programme.

Lessons take the form of production meetings and briefings and client relationships are student-led which results in an all-inclusive but highly differentiated environment in which each learner has a significant role.

Sophia is working with AMP Media, the best-known local media company run by an ex-learner. They are delivering workshops in scriptwriting, pitching, camera operation, sound recording, editing and drone operation as well as offering students’ work experience.

With high expectations, Sophia is also a supportive and observant lecturer. “I think too many of our learners are used to people giving in and then lower their expectations,” she said. “If I were to do that as an educator, I would be corroborating the idea that whatever it is that is hindering them is insurmountable; it would be like giving up on them.”

Sophia’s aim was to create an environment where learning takes place as a matter of real choice and armed with 10 years in the editing industry, she enhanced the BTEC curriculum to suit. “I was pleased to see that professional expectations are firmly tooted in the design of the qualification,” she said. “Learning cannot be confined to classroom walls or lesson times, so creating a ubiquitous classroom became my ideal.”


Catherine Roberts
Lecturer in Sport
BTEC Tutor of the Year – Bronze Award

Winning a bronze award for BTEC Tutor of the year, Catherine Roberts, a sports lecturer at Coleg Sir Gâr who also runs the college’s Netball Academy, is responsible for teaching sport to a challenging group of learners.

She is key in supporting the group by increasing their confidence and self esteem whilst improving their attitude towards learning. Students are learning to embrace success rather than shy away from it and this is a reflection of Catherine’s perseverance, sensitivity and empowering attitude. “Many students have had negative experiences in the past and I see my role as providing them with a second chance by reengaging them in learning and fostering the attitude that bouncing back and making rectifications and improvements is what’s important,” she said.

Introducing ‘Feedback Fridays’, which is a weekly phone call to a parent or guardian which reinforces positive behaviour has made a significant impact and has introduced a competitive edge on learner development. “These phone calls have a powerful impact on parents too,” said Catherine. “Some become very emotional because they have not received positive messages in the past and this helps develop positive and supportive relationships.”

Assisted by her life coaching skills, it’s key to Catherine’s work, to be able to identify behaviours that manifest as coping mechanisms and to recognise when a learner needs to be challenged, provided with a listening ear, a motivational chat or time out.


Jodie Pinnell
Lecturer in Outdoor Adventure
BTEC Tutor of the Year – Bronze Award

Jodie Pinnell, a lecturer in outdoor education at Coleg Sir Gâr won a bronze award for BTEC Tutor of the year.

Breaking down walls of expectations with innovation at her core, Jodie is bold and brave in her teaching and is not afraid to try new ideas in a professional and measured way which means her teaching methods are always dynamic and fresh.

As a result of her ideas and with an approachable, friendly and supportive demeanour, Jodie found herself as a teaching role model and a key member of the college’s Teaching and Learning Developing Team.

Jodie is an excellent teacher who achieves the highest of standards of classroom practice, she values each of her learners and creates a welcoming environment for her class and is focussed on a learner-led approach.

She strives to stay ahead of the latest research in her field which makes the subject come alive for her students.

Jodie Pinnell said: “Shaping the next generation of outdoor professionals is why BTEC has been so valuable to teach.

“To gain a qualification whilst incorporating work experience, residentials and experiential learning develops the whole student, giving them the skills needed to step straight into employment. Throughout my teaching career I am proud to say that the BTEC pathway has set my students up for careers in multiple parts of the world and in careers that show the vast transferability of the skills they learnt on the course.

 “I am proud to be part of the teaching and learning development team, as this involves action research, delivering staff training and mentoring other lecturers and I am enthused about education and shaping learning experiences, removing barriers to learning through a flexible attitude to work and the desire to inspire students, motivating them to push themselves.”

Jodie was this year invited to speak about her work at the AoC Research Conference in London on the impact of cloud networks in further education.