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Opinion: 'Special' TES FE award recognised my love for the sector

With less than a week to go before the deadline for entries for the TES FE Awards 2016, one of last year's winners, Di Layzelle, reflects on what the ceremony meant to her

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At a time when the FE sector is under increasing pressure, it was a joy and privilege to be part of the impressive TES FE Awards 2015 ceremony – a celebration of the many committed and conscientious individuals who work with the young people who deserve every opportunity to succeed. 

You could feel the excitement and expectation at an event which made even those of us present to support colleagues who had been nominated for various awards feel very special. As a guest who was under the impression that I was present merely in a supportive capacity, it was with astonishment that I heard my name announced as the recipient of the highly prestigious TES FE Lifetime Achievement Award. I can honestly say that I was absolutely speechless and overwhelmed. I will never forget the awards ceremony, especially as I genuinely had no idea that I had even been nominated. Neither did the colleagues who I came to support for another award nomination. 

It was a great honour and privilege to receive an award of such calibre, and to be acknowledged in this manner for a job that I truly love is even more incredible. I have worked in the FE sector for so long because I genuinely believe the work we do is unique in supporting those young people who have come to us with one last chance to achieve. I am continually energised and inspired by the opportunities I have had at Croydon College to work with so many wonderful young people who possess a rich seam of talent which is often untapped and needs to be harnessed. They are fundamental in bringing about meaningful change to the communities in which they exist and so the TES FE Lifetime Achievement Award was particularly special to me as it was recognition of the work I value highly and am passionate about.  

Di Layzelle MBE is head of student life at Croydon College and was last year's recipient of the TES FE Lifetime Achievement Award

The deadline for entries for this year’s TES FE Awards is Sunday 6 December. There is a range of awards, recognising the most inspiring individuals and institutions in the sector. We have introduced new categories for this year, including Apprenticeship Programme of the Year. For the first time, there will be three categories for different types of institutions: FE College of the Year, Sixth-Form College of the Year and Training Provider of the Year. These three winners will compete to be crowned the Overall FE Provider of the Year.

The awards ceremony will take place on 22 April 2016 at the Grosvenor House hotel in London. To enter, or to find out more about the categories up for grabs for 2016, click here

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