West Berkshire Council

West Berkshire Learner Achievement Awards 2017

The winners of West Berkshire's 15th annual Learner Achievement Awards include a man who fled Syria in 2016.

Learner Achievement Awards Winners 2017

Issued on: 14 June 2017

Mostafa Haji arrived in the UK as part of the Vulnerable Syrian Refugees Settlement programme and received the 'Determination Award' for his success in learning English since arriving in West Berkshire in 2016.

Mostafa, his wife Ghalia and their four children escaped the atrocities of war torn Syria and had virtually no knowledge of the English language.

However, Mostafa was well aware that mastering the language was essential to their resettlement here and embarked on an intensive 60 hour programme of language and orientation with Berkshire School of English (BSE), progressing to an ESOL community based course and a functional English course with Newbury College.

Claire Middleton, Director of the BSE, nominated Mustafa for the Award. She said, "Mustafa has worked tirelessly to develop his language skills and has been able to forge connections and friendships within the community, settle his children in local schools and support his wife to adapt to their new way of life. His studies have also enabled him to help his family to develop their own English language skills and he is now able to look for employment opportunities across the district."

Mostafa said, "I wanted to learn because England is my new home and I want to fit in and understand everything around me."

Other awards included Vernon Pocock, (29) for his outstanding achievement in gaining his advanced apprenticeship in plumbing and heating; Newbury College tutors Jacky Purtill and Sarah Whittam for their work to inspire their students and West Berkshire Council's Family Hub in Hungerford which delivers a wide range of courses to support vulnerable parents.

The Awards were presented by Councillor Quentin Webb, Chairman of West Berkshire Council at a special ceremony held at Shaw House, Newbury on 9 June. and acknowledged the contribution made by volunteers and older people such as 75 year old John Chorley (Older Learning Champion) who attends Mencap and helps his colleagues to improve their IT skills despite his own learning disabilities.

The Awards are part of the national Festival of Learning that takes place in May-June every year.  They are organised by West Berkshire Council on behalf of the West Berkshire Community Learning Partnership the awards are sponsored by Newbury College, West Berkshire Training Consortium, and the Newbury Community Resource Centre.

Councillor Lynne Doherty, West Berkshire's Executive Member for Education Services said, "We are delighted to support the Learner Achievement Awards.They demonstrate the depth of learning opportunities available to adults across West Berkshire covering professional, academic and vocational qualifications, apprenticeships, community development, leisure courses and family learning. They also recognise the enormous effort made by people to learn under the most difficult of circumstances and to succeed where others may have given up."

See photos of all the winners and find out more about the Learner Achievement Awards.