November 27, 2017

New Leaf learners group win national learning award

Group of eight people standing in a row smiling at the camera holding certificates

A group of eight New Leaf learners who overcame a range of barriers to take their first steps towards teaching other adult learners have been crowned ‘the best student group’ at this year’s Workers’ Educational Association (WEA) National Awards.

The awards aims to recognise high achievement against the odds, to celebrate the people who have transformed their own lives and the lives of those around them through lifelong learning.

The New Leaf group, from Chester impressed the judges with their “clear evidence of collective learning and support for one another” during their 10-week level three NCFE qualification in education and training.

Louise Kerr, WEA Education Co-ordinator said, “We nominated them for the award as we were so impressed by the group and their attitude towards learning and each other.”

“From day one they made me proud with the way they worked together to overcome their learning barriers. The all worked so hard and above all they supported and encouraged each other.”

“This plus the support they received off their New Leaf mentors made this achievement possible – from arranging child care to offering encouragement at times of lapse of confidence.”

“They all did amazingly well on the course and will make great teachers.”

Between them, the group have had to tackle a range of difficulties including dyslexia, cerebral palsy and self-esteem issues related to abusive relationships to complete their course, which prepared them to teach adult learners.

Ruth Spellman, WEA’s chief executive, said she was “moved and humbled” by the stories of the group.

She adds, “Their stories also tell us things we need to know about the society we live in. The difficulties adults have in leading decent lives when they have come from a variety of disadvantaged backgrounds. We get to see the world from their perspective and this adds to our understanding of how to help them.”

Student and award winner, Heidi Bell, said, “The course was a huge challenge at first, we all faced many personal barriers. Thanks to New Leaf and the support of the rest of the group, I am more confident and I am now focussed on my new journey onto teaching and I am looking forward to my future.”

Another winner, Michele Fletcher added, “The course has been very transformative I started with some in trepidation after spending several years’ unemployed, after the financial crash accountants were no longer esteemed.”

“I feel that I am too young to retire or be left on the scrap heap and that I have so much to give back based on my life experience and skills and knowledge. Thanks to New Leaf and this course, I now have hope for the future.”

New Leaf is a £10.6 million 3-year scheme, led by Golden Gates Housing Trust (GGHT), and part of the Building Better Opportunities programme.

To find out more about New Leaf and how they can help you, call 01925 452131 or email

Group of eight people standing in a row smiling at the camera holding certificates
New Leaf Lottery Funded