Seventeen winners in a range of categories covering the full diversity of the sector stepped on stage at The Brewery in London to receive their trophy, certificate and pound;2,000 cash prize, or pound;5,000 for the winning team, at a gala ceremony.
Guests were greeted by tourism and hospitality students from the College of North West London and a saxophone quintet from Leeds college of music played among the flowers arranged by Bexley adult education college students. There were other displays, too, ranging from the work of inmates of Dartmoor prison, to hats from fashion design students at Hull college.
More than 150 people were shortlisted for awards in 16 categories. New categories include an award for outstanding team, one for an outstanding contribution from a volunteer, and another for the Learning and Skills subject learning coach of the year.
Judges were so impressed with the work of Sakina Zafar, a law lecturer from Regent college, Leicester, and music lecturer Sally MacGregor from Runshaw college, Lancashire, that they declared them joint FE tutors of the year.
The Star Awards were conceived under the Department for Education and Skills' Success For All strategy to boost morale. They are organised by the Association of Colleges and the unions, with The TES as media sponsor.
Judith Norrington, head of national policy development for City Guilds, and chair of the Star Awards judging panel, said: "It gives an opportunity for people who have never been in the limelight to really shine and show what they achieve every day of the week. It can only be to the good that we are able to demonstrate what wonderful people there are working across the sector."
Sponsored by Lifelong Learning UK
Two winners. Sakina Zafar, a law lecturer at Regent college, Leicester, has lifted the A-level pass rate in law from 47 per cent to 100 per cent in the past five years. She was praised for tireless dedication and her dogged determination to ensure learners succeed.
Sally MacGregor, a music lecturer at Runshaw college, Lancashire, has developed her music department from having barely a dozen students with old, shabby instruments into one of the largest and most advanced departments in the country.
Basickey skills tutor
Sponsored by Protocol Training
Darshan Bajaj, basic skills lecturer at Telford college of arts and technology. Her commitment to students is described as outstanding. She has played an important part in the college becoming one of the first institutions to gain a grade 1 from Ofsted.
Adult and community learning tutor
Sponsored by the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education Elizabeth Durham, maths tutor, Southend adult community college.
Elizabeth's class's success rate at AS-level and GSCE has been consistently above average for the sector.
Work-based learning trainer
Sponsored by the Association of Learning Providers
David Dyble, manufacturing workforce development co-ordinator at Hull college, has developed new courses to meet manufacturing industry's skills needs, particularly in basic skills.
Sponsored by the Association of Colleges
Steve Brown, a tutor at Manchester prison, transformed an embryonic learning department into a centre of excellence.
Sponsored by Microsoft
Neil Mayne, Pathways short course co-ordinator, Northern college, Barnsley, has been praised for creative course development.
Learning and Skills subject learning coach
Sponsored by a consortium led by the Learning and Skills Development Agency Debbie Wilme, centres of excellence in vocational education development officer, education and training skills, Exeter. She has developed innovative coaching strategies and developed lesson plans, which are being introduced to post-16 education providers.
Outstanding support other than learning
Sponsored by Unison
Kosser Choudry, community outreach worker, royal borough of Windsor and MaidenheadEllington community learning centre, who has been instrumental in establishing and developing an adult and community learning centre, serving hard-to-reach groups.
Sponsored by learndirect
Yvonne Smith, a librarian at Leeds, has developed projects to encourage learners to read and use resources.
SKILL award for staff supporting learners with learning difficulties disabilities Sponsored by Sight and Sound
Mike Scanlan, team leader, study support for learners with impaired vision, Liverpool community college. Since 1987, he has provided first-class teaching in Braille, keyboarding and touch-typing and arranged mobility training for hundreds of visually-impaired learners. He is visually-impaired himself.
Sponsored by LSC
Bridget Wright, volunteer organiser, Farnborough college of technology, offers educational opportunities for people with visual impairment to participate in areas they may never have dreamed possible, from gardening to geology.
Teamwork. Sponsored by LSC
The Independence Team, from the Royal National College for the Blind, offers individualised programmes and group learning opportunities in independent living skills and mobility to learners both in college and work placements. They make it their business to know all their students and so have an excellent knowledge of their learning requirements.
Management of learning
Sponsored by Centre for Excellence in Leadership
Sally Foard, corporate curriculum leader, Skills for Life course, Cornwall college. Her overhaul of the skills for life has meant that the number of learners following the qualifications has increased by 50 per cent.
Literacy and numeracy - previously judged unsatisfactory by Ofsted - have been re-graded good.
Leadership. Sponsored by Centre for Excellence in Leadership
Clive Weston, curriculum manager in construction, Accrington and Rossendale college, leads its construction team and centre of vocational excellence, with 55 staff and more than 1,000 students. His down-to-earth, pragmatic philosophy is inspired by a desire to produce the best craftsmen in the world.
Lifetime achievement. Sponsored by Institute for Learning
Derek Denby, director, science centre of excellence, John Leggott college, Scunthorpe. He joined the college in 1968 and is credited with inspiring generations of teachers and students. He has been instrumental in establishing the centre of excellence, supporting teachers in the use of new technology.
Outstanding achievement, innovative practice and inspiration. Sponsored by the Learning and Skills Development Agency
Simon Couth, directorchief executive of the Image Channel Company, Grimsby institute of further and higher education, has shown vision in creating a nationally-recognised centre of excellence for training in the broadcast television industry. His entrepreneurial approach has instilled a sense of vitality and aspiration in his students.