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Event honours outstanding lecturer

A disabled lecturer, who cannot speak and left school without qualifications, has been honoured for her work in launching an on-line student support system.

Sunderland College won the ‘Outstanding Quality of Provision’ category at the Open College Network North East, HE Provider Awards 2012, for the work of Joy Fenwick, a lecturer at Sunderland College.

The award recognises the help that Joy, who has Athetoid Cerebral Palsy, has given to students who would like to go to university but don’t have the right qualifications.

Joy, 43, from Fence Houses, near Houghton-Le-Spring, launched ‘Joy’s Online Workshop’ last summer.

She said: “To see all your hard work recognised like this is a fantastic feeling. It means the college, and I, are providing an additional tool to meet the educational needs of students.”

Joy is a former pupil at Newcastle’s specialist Percy Hedley School for those with cerebral palsy. Her condition means she has little control over her muscles making speaking, moving and using her hands very difficult.

She explains how taking an access course at Sunderland College then going on to do a degree at Sunderland University inspired her to help others.

Joy said: “The more barriers that were put in my way the more determined I was to smash them down and succeed. Now I am doing a job I love.

“I was approached to set up the online system because I have the experience and knowledge of both being on the Access to Higher Education in health and social care as well as being  a service user – as I have received both social and health services due to my disability.”

Picking up the award on behalf of Joy at the ceremony, held in Newcastle on Friday (May 25), was Sunderland College lecturer Ann Inkson.

She said: “I feel very honoured to be collecting an award for Sunderland College on behalf of an outstanding colleague who has helped so many students go on to fulfil their potential.

“The work carried out by Joy is vital and I think this award proves that.”

Through the online workshops students are able to read Joy’s blog for study tips on exam technique and revision, as well as pose their own questions during a live session every Thursday.

Joy said: “Many of the students missed out on gaining the right qualifications the first time round. So I work with them to make sure they get the qualifications they need to go on and do their dream university course.”

Jennie Lawson, access to higher education manager with the OCN said: “Sunderland College have always been at the forefront in developing their Access to HE programme and the introduction of on-line tutor support is another excellent example.

“It has proved to be invaluable for learners and is a great example of inclusive practice, both in relation to learner support and employment. We are delighted to present this award to the Access Team at Sunderland College.”

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