Potential winners of this year's STAR Awards have until mid-April to make sure that entries are submitted on their behalf. Within a month of nominations, closing at midnight on April 15, judging will begin and continue until July, when a shortlist is announced.
To be eligible for an award, a candidate must work in the learning and skills sector in England. This includes further education and sixth form colleges, community-based education, work-based learning and other programmes funded by the Learning and Skills Council.
Staff at higher education institutions that deliver further education may apply, but entries are not accepted from schools or universities.
While many of last year's winners were teachers or trainers, the awards are open to support staff and others who contribute to learning in any educational institution or the workplace.
Nominations can be made by learners or the public, as well as colleagues and managers. On the nomination form, they must state in up to 100 words why they think someone should win.
The most crucial issue is how, or why, a candidate made a difference to learners, perhaps in helping them to gain qualifications or perform their jobs more effectively. They may be seen as an inspiration to others or have demonstrated commitment over and above what might be expected from someone in their position.
Val Hewson, who is co-ordinating the 2005 awards from the Department for Education and Skills Standards Unit, says it is important that people making nominations try to make an entry as interesting as possible, preferably using examples.
People who were nominated last year can be entered again, including those who were shortlisted as well as winners. However, it is unlikely that anyone will win a prize two years in a row, unless they have changed jobs.
The 2005 winners will be announced at a ceremony in London on October 12.
The number of prizes has increased from 13 to 16 while prize money for individual winners has doubled to pound;2,000 per award. They will also receive a trophy and a certificate.
This year sees a new award for Outstanding Team, sponsored by the Learning and Skills Council, worth pound;5,000. Employers of each prize winner receive a certificate to show they employ a STAR Awards winner.
Although individuals may only nominate one person in the two outstanding achievement prizes, they can nominate as many people as they like for the other categories. Candidates may be nominated for more than one category providing they fit the criteria, but nobody can nominate a family member for an award.
Nominations may be made online at www.dfes.gov.ukstarawards, or by completing a form in the STAR Awards toolkit. Toolkits were sent to learning providers in February, or can be ordered on, tel: 0800 652 0528, 8.30am-5.15pm weekdays