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Celebrating Our Learners

Over the past few weeks, WAES have held celebrations and awards ceremonies for our learners and staff. As with so many things this year, these celebrations had to move online. It was an interesting new experience for our learners and staff, but we were delighted to be able to celebrate and ‘see’ each other.

The Show – Celebrating the work of our fashion and make-up learners

The Show is our annual showcase for the fashion, hairdressing and make-up learners. The move to an online platform this year necessitated changing from a live catwalk show to an online presentation format, but even so, the show lost none of its excitement, celebration and pride, and clearly showed the ingenuity of the learners and tutors.

Hairdressing learner, Pantelis Pastianidis, curated the hair and make-up part of The Show, narrating the presentation, and talking about the difficulties faced by learners in producing much of the work from their homes. Learners had to use items from around their homes and practice on family members.

Fashion learners had their creations displayed on mannequins, which were added to the presentation alongside their sketches and mood-boards. It was exciting to see how thoughts and ideas were turned into wearable items and the imagination of the learners shone through.

The assembled governors, staff, and families were very moved by the creativity and determination of the learners to achieve these fabulous results.

Private View – Celebrating the work of our fine art, ceramics and graphic design learners

Our Private View show is held annually in Lisson Grove and offers an opportunity for members of the public to view the work created by our learners. We hope to welcome the public to our building in the near future to see the work displayed, but in the meantime we used presentations to showcase our learners’ work at a vibrant online event.

Many of those who attended said that they appreciated the opportunity to see the work in this way and we are investigating ways to continue to use different forms of technology in the future, even when we are back in our buildings again.

The quality of work was exceptional and many learners created videos and audio commentaries that gave us glimpses into their creative process. It was an exciting and inspirational event.

Annual Learner Awards – Celebrating the hard work put in by our learners through the year

This glittering awards ceremony is held annually and is an opportunity to dress up and applaud our learners. Yet again, this year our event moved online and turned out to be a moving celebration of our learners and their families.

The event was opened by WAES Chair of Governors, Carolyn Keen, and Westminster City Council Cabinet Member for Business and Planning, Councillor Matthew Green.

More than 70 awards were given out in 16 categories, in subject areas as diverse as Maths, English, Accounting, Health & Social Care, Fine Art, Ceramics, Floristry and many more. Learners were celebrated for their outstanding commitment, progress and achievement and a number of special WAES to Success Awards were given out to outstanding learners.

Many learners overcame a great deal of difficulty to complete their studies this year. Besides the usual commitments, many learners had to home school, care for vulnerable family members, learn to use unfamiliar technology and some of our learners even became ill with Coronavirus. None of this stopped them from completing their studies, though, and we were delighted to meet many of them at our event.

Our guest speaker was Kate Benton, a professional Make-up Designer and Director of PAM in London. She reassured our learners that the arts would pick up in the near future and that their skills would be needed in the months and years to come. A welcome reminder that this too shall pass and that there is much for us to look forward to.

Staff Awards

A week later, we held an online event for our staff and celebrated the successes of our teachers and our support staff. We learnt more about the hard work that has gone into keeping our learners learning and how we are preparing to continue to support that work, whether we are able to meet in classrooms or have to work remotely. One thing is clear – the staff are committed to supporting every learner to achieve their goals.

More than a celebration

When we set out, we wanted to celebrate our learners and their accomplishments, but we discovered that these events were so much more than that. We ‘met’ many learners online and got to see their families. We were able to share in their triumphs and see how they had overcome adversity. And we were able to say thank you to learners and to staff for the sterling work that was done to help our learners stay on track through such a difficult time.

The support from our Board and Chair of Governors has been unwavering and our Principal was able to assure our learners that we will continue to support their journeys to a better future for all.


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