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WELS Teaching Excellence, Student and Tutor Awards 2021

Photograph of a trophy on its side, spilling star confetti on to a clean, blue background. The text "WELS AWARDS 2021" is overlaid on top of the image.

The winners of this year’s WELS Student, Tutor and Teaching Excellence Awards were announced at the virtual WELS Teaching Excellence Day on Tuesday 5 October. In total, 21 awards were made across the three categories.

New for 2021, the WELS Tutor Awards provide students with the opportunity to recognise the dedication and skill of their tutors. The OU’s tutors, also known as Associate Lecturers (ALs), provide essential support and guidance that enable students to succeed. Over 850 nominations were received, representing more than 420 WELS tutors across all of the Faculty’s Schools. The judging panel included representation from students, tutors and central academic staff.  

The WELS Student Awards are particularly notable, as students must be nominated by their tutors to be eligible. The Student Inspirational Achievement Award recognises WELS students who have achieved a significant career milestone, overcoming challenges or barriers to succeed in realising their aspiration. The Student Mentor/Ambassador/Buddy of the Year Award recognises the invaluable work of WELS students who support others in a formal role as mentor, ambassador or buddy. The winners of this award have gone the extra mile to act as a positive role model for other students.

The WELS Teaching Excellence Awards were established to recognise outstanding teaching that promotes the success of students. Nominees must demonstrate the positive impact of their teaching, in particular for students from disadvantaged backgrounds or those who are at greater risk of not achieving positive outcomes. Submissions are judged by a panel of students from the Faculty of WELS.

The winners are listed below. Please note, only those winners who have agreed to publicity are featured.

For further details on the award winners in each category, please read the detailed stories:

WELS Tutor Awards

Student nominations spoke of the support and encouragement they received from their tutors, expressing gratitude for their input, and the difference their tutors have made to their OU journey. One student described their tutor as “an absolute credit to The Open University! They will always remain in my learning journey memories as an inspiration”.

Ten tutors received a WELS Tutor award, and a further five were highly commended. More details are available in the WELS Tutor Award story.

The 2021 WELS Tutor Award winners from the School of Education, Childhood, Youth and Sport are:

  • Dr Elly Adams
  • Ola Fadoju
  • Rhiannon Moore
  • Stuart Wroe
  • Anita Pilgrim (Highly Commended)
  • Dr Ian Tulloch (Highly Commended)

The 2021 WELS Tutor Award winners from the School of Health, Wellbeing and Social Care are:

  • Frank Carter
  • Kathy Chandler
  • Amanda Manouvrier (Highly Commended)

The 2021 WELS Tutor Award winners from the School of Languages and Applied Linguistics are:

  • Dr Bill Alder
  • Bärbel Brash
  • Dr Stephen Thorne

Read more about the WELS Tutor Awards.

WELS Student Awards

WELS Student Inspirational Achievement Award winners

The 2021 WELS Student Inspirational Achievement Award winners are:

Yasemen Dervis (HWSC- Level 3). Yasemen has remained calm, focused, and organised during her studies, despite facing many obstacles, from the breakdown of her personal relationship which led to caring for twins solo, to working in an Emergency Department during a global pandemic!

Bhupinder Gill (HWSC- Postgraduate Social Work). Bhupinder has shown impressive dedication and efficiency to her postgraduate studies this year, whilst dealing with challenges around study leave and funding. She has shown unwavering positivity, working creatively in placements and never missing a deadline.

Mihaela Popa (LAL- Level 2). Mihaela is an inspirational force of nature for the Roma community in Luton, to which she belongs. A lone parent of three, who contracted COVID-19 during her studies, she has supported her community, especially young children, during lockdown.

Rachel Stephens (ECYS- Level 3). Rachel used her learning from the Youth Work degree to ease the challenges of the pandemic in her community, including developing an online cooking project delivering food, providing doorstep activities and 150 weekly ingredient packs to families vulnerable to holiday hunger.

Dawn Stewart (HWSC- Postgraduate Nursing). Dawn has demonstrated superb resilience, tenacity and professionalism over the past year. She has overcome the challenges of managing an acute psychiatric unit under increasing strain due to the pandemic, alongside caring for her two clinically vulnerable children, all whilst maintaining an extremely high level of achievement in her studies.

Bahar Yanik (HWSC- Level 2). Despite Covid and the many challenges of being a frontline school worker during the pandemic, Bahar's dedication to her studies has been unwavering. Both working and studying full time, Bahar is also a carer and mother of two, and has displayed great determination and resilience.

WELS Student Mentor/Ambassador/Buddy of the Year Award winners

The 2021 Student Mentor/Ambassador/Buddy of the Year Award winners are:

Jacqui Ross (LAL- Level 2). Jacqui was a Student Buddy throughout the 2020 academic year, providing study advice, general guidance and moral support to her peers, alongside completing her own studies. She has been instrumental in facilitating student-led support initiatives within the School of Languages and Applied Linguistics (LAL), helping to increase access and participation for all LAL students.

More details are available in the WELS Student Award story.

WELS Teaching Excellence Awards

The 2021 Teaching Excellence Award winners are:

  • Sarah Stewart and the OU PGCE (Post Graduate Certificate in Education) team for demonstrating a positive attitude toward students and continually working to overcome obstacles that might subvert learning. During the pandemic, the team introduced a virtual school experience enabling student teachers to collaborate with other students across Wales, enabling a broader perspective and dialogue about their own teaching practices.
  • Dr Sylvia Warnecke and Bärbel Brash for enhancing students’ employability skills during their study of the ‘Learning Languages with Senior Learners’ course. Course participants learned how to teach languages for wellbeing, particularly to support older learners and people with dementia.
  • Dr Ursula Stickler and the Jena CALLing team for finding unique and creative ways to connect students to each other. An existing ALE (Alternative Learning Experience), originally designed for OU language students not able to attend a European residential school in person, was made available to all students when the pandemic restricted overseas travel. The new format provided an inclusive experience closer to a live visit, enhanced group cohesion and strengthened the collaborative aspect of their learning.

More details are available in the WELS Teaching Excellence Award story.

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