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A Personal Support Tutor from West Suffolk College has been announced as the winner of the nationally recognised FETN Outstanding Personal Tutor Award.

The FETN (Further Education Tutorial Network) Outstanding Personal Tutor Award provides the opportunity to honour tutors who deliver an extraordinary service to students and their learning community. PST Sarah Kirk from Bury, and who has been in the role for 10 years, was revealed as the winner of the award in a virtual conference on Friday.

Over the years, the Personal Support Tutor role has proved to be essential to learners’ progress, development and well-being. In normal circumstances it is complex and demanding in nature but has been particularly challenging in recent months as tutors work remotely in response to social distancing brought about by COVID-19.

Cathy Durrant, Head of Pastoral Support at the college nominated Sarah for the award and as part of the nomination form had to describe how Sarah met each of the 10 identified tutoring standards. Cathy said: “I am exceptionally proud of Sarah and my whole team who do a phenomenal job to support our students. Sarah has made a significant impact on countless individual student’s progress and she thoroughly deserved this award. This yea more than any other, my team have gone above and beyond for our students and I am delighted to see Sarah receive this national recognition on behalf of them all.”

Sarah is keen to play a part in raising the profile of what the PST’s do at the college and how vital their role is in supporting the students. She said: “I would like to accept this on behalf of each and every one of the PST’s. We truly are a powerful team who work tirelessly to support, listen and arm our students with the tools they need to become independent, confident and resilient young people. We all strive to catch a student before they fall and support a secure student to develop the skills required for a successful future. It’s fantastic to have our role recognised in this way.”

When talking about Sarah at the conference, the Judge stated that it was great to see ‘a fantastic emphasis on employability for the students at West Suffolk College and also to see how Sarah plays an important part in mentoring her colleagues.’

Sarah will be awarded with a cash prize and will also receive an engraved trophy for winning the award.

Sarah Kirk