Adult Education: They're Tutoriffic; ADULT EDUCATION HEROES TAKE A BOW AT DOME AWARDS CEREMONY
Garner, Richard, The Mirror (London, England)
CINDERELLA will finally go to the ball next week - or The Dome, to be more precise.
The controversial Millennium monument in Greenwich, South London, will be the setting next week for a special awards ceremony to celebrate education's unsung heroes.
They are the adult education tutors who work tirelessly in community colleges helping millions of adults gain the skills and expertise that could change their lives.
Oscar-style ceremonies have already been arranged for teachers in the country's primary and secondary schools - courtesy of former Oscar-winning film producer Lord Puttnam.
And their students have their own national awards ceremony which recognises outstanding achievements by those who missed out on education the first time around.
Now the nation's adult education tutors will step forward and take centre stage to reap the rewards for their efforts.
They include people like Ruth Tucker, a music teacher at Neath College for the past 12 years. During that time Ruth has worked with students aged between six and 80, helping them gain successes at distinction level at both theory and practice.
One of her crowning achievements has been to help Melanie Richards, who has cerebral palsy, pass several grades of her music theory exams.
Melanie herself won an award in Adult Learners' Week last year, held to focus on the talents of Britain's adult learners.
Ruth, who is 43 and has three children, said of her selection for the regional adult tutor award for Wales: "I was really surprised."I felt quite honoured to get it.
"This is one of the few jobs where it's a real joy to get out of bed in the morning."
Ruth is excited about the prospects of one her new students, a seven-year-old blind girl whom she has taught to play the piano. The girl is to play in a concert next month featuring high-achieving musicians from around the region.
Ruth practises what she preaches. A piano player since her early youth, she started playing the violin fat the age of 38 - and performed with an orchestra for the first time three weeks ago.
"With taking up violin lessons, I know exactly how the students feel," she said.
Then there's Sheila Andrew, who teaches basic skills to prisoners at HMP Highpoint, near Newmarket, Suffolk. Sheila, 52, has been teaching both men and women in the two wings of the prison for the past 20 years.
"I trained as a primary school teacher," she said, "but then I took time off to have my children.
"When I returned I came into the prison work, which I have enjoyed immensely. It was something different. You are trying to give people the skills which will make them employable when they leave prison and give them a better chance in life. …