The winners have been announced for this year’s Olive Cordell awards! The awards recognise outstanding achievements by one student and tutor in the WEA Skills for Life provision and will be presented at the Adult Education parliamentary event on the 7th November in Westminster.
Olive Cordell herself was a community studies tutor for the WEA, leaving a lasting legacy which is celebrated annually in her name.
Laraine Clark from Basildon, Essex has won the award for Skills for Life tutor of the year. Laraine teaches numeracy and literacy to adults who face multiple and complex barriers to learning, including mental health and social and economic disadvantage. Many of her learners have had negative experiences of school and she has been praised for providing a “supportive, friendly, encouraging and welcoming environment” in which students can learn.
Originally working in a bank, she quit her job in pursuit of a career that would enable her to be a good role model for her two young children.
A close friend of hers, Dave Harrington, first encouraged her to go into teaching and she volunteered in his class as a support worker, not feeling that confident. She then went on to do a Diploma in Teaching in the Lifelong Learning Sector course at Anglia Ruskin University.
Dave supported Laraine every step of the way until he sadly passed away one month into her course. She carried on with the course, with his kind words of encouragement in mind.
“I was such a vulnerable person at first. I thought I thought couldn’t teach, I wasn’t capable. As the years have gone on, hearing the feedback from learners, I have realised that I am making a difference. I am passing on valuable skills and motivating students to make changes. To be nominated for this fantastic award just shows that this has all been recognised.”
Lariane works hard with each individual student, teaching not only English and Maths but life skills such as communication. She has positively impacted students’ lives by raising confidence and self-esteem levels as well as coaching them to pass exams. “I try to empower my students so they can speak out, feel comfortable and communicate effectively in everyday life. They have had such bad experiences of school and home life, abusive relationships and so on. To trust an adult can be quite difficult for them. I try really hard to build up individual relationships with them. They think of me as a friend rather than a tutor.”
When asked how it feels to have won Laraine replied, “It feels absolutely wonderful. For someone to take the time to think of me and nominate me for this is overwhelming. The day I go to collect my award, I will never forget that moment.”