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'Inspiring' prison tutor scoops top vocational award

A pioneering prison tutor scooped the top prize at the City & Guilds Lion Awards last night.

Andrew Dennis claimed the flagship Outstanding Achiever of the Year gong at the Roundhouse in London, as well as the Tutor of the Year title, in recognition for his efforts working for the prison service over the last 23 years.

In 2006, he used his background as an expert craftsman to open the Brickshop at HMP Maidstone, with the aim of helping prisoners develop both their construction and employability skills.

Judges were impressed by the course’s 90 per cent retention and achievement rate, as well as Andrew’s commitment to help his learners “overcome any previous negative educational experiences and exceed their own expectations”. More than 50 prisoners have gone on to work in the construction industry thanks to his efforts.

City & Guilds chief executive Chris Jones praised Andrew’s “huge achievement”. “It’s inspiring to see how he is changing people’s lives – helping offenders develop their skills and confidence to step into employment,” he said. “We’re all about helping people get into a job, progress on the job and move on to the next job, and the Lion Awards are for celebrating those who are really living this. And I’m sure Andrew will continue to have a lasting impact on those he teaches.”

He was one of 13 award winners, which also included hairdressing tutor Ellie Johnson from Highlands College in Jersey and Hannah Parker, who simultaneously studied courses in hairdressing and travel and tourism at Lowestoft College.

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