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Post-16 heroes' finest hour

The finest staff in post-16 education and training were honoured this week as they stepped up to receive their "Oscars" at a ceremony in London.

More than 500 people, including over 150 award nominees and guests, attended the second annual Star Awards celebration at the trendy Brewery venue.

Judges selected 17 winners from across the learning and skills sector, including further education, work-based learning and adult and community learning, prison education and learning support. A further 19 people were highly commended.

The event was launched by the Government to boost morale. It is broader than the National Teaching Awards for schools, honouring not only lecturers and tutors, but also support staff and volunteers.

Charles Clarke, then Secretary of State for Education, helped launch last year's inaugural event. This year, there was a video message of support from his successor, Ruth Kelly, as well as from the awards' "ambassadors", author, actor and comedian Stephen Fry and fashion designer Zandra Rhodes.

Further education minister Bill Rammell told the audience: "These awards are really important. I think sometimes there's a sense that we don't like celebrating individual achievement. This helps rebuff some of the critics who say things are getting worse across the sector, when in fact things are getting better."

Sally MacGregor, an A-level music teacher from Runshaw college, was joint winner of the further education tutor of the year award. "I think this sort of occasion is a fantastic morale booster for the teaching sector," she said. "For myself, I think it will boost my confidence in doing what I do.

And I think it will raise awareness in the North-west about what we're doing in this department."

Simon Couth, of The Grimsby Institute of Further and Higher Education, won a Star Award for outstanding achievement, innovative practice and inspiration. "Education rarely pats you on the back," he said. "It's one of those things we tirelessly work away at and for somebody to say 'look, you have done a really good job' is hugely satisfying."

Star award winners 2

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