City Lit Blog

City Lit honoured at the 2019 Festival of Learning Awards

Story added 2nd Jul 2019

City Lit wins Festival of Learning Awards in Centenary year

Learning and Work Institute has announced its Festival of Learning award winners for 2019. The winners were revealed on Tuesday 2 July at a prestigious awards ceremony at RSA House in London.  

City Lit was recognised as winner of the 2019 President’s Award and City Lit lipreading tutor Fiona Pickett has been chosen as the Festival of Learning Tutor Winner. There was also special recognition for City Lit students Dace Mikiste and Sylvia Rowbottom who have been named as finalists. 

Festival of Learning – a national celebration of lifelong learning – has been running for nearly 30 years. Each winner shows the power of learning to transform and enrich people’s lives. 

City Lit was successful on multiple occasions including winning prestigious the Festival of Learning 2019 President’s Award. > Watch the City Lit video here

Mark Malcomson CBE, Principal and CEO said, “Whilst City Lit has evolved since it was founded in 1919, I am confident that it remains true to its ethos of inspiring passions and realising ambitions throughout our lives. We all need to continue to develop our passions and learn new skills to thrive throughout our lives – so City Lit is more relevant and essential to London’s future than it’s ever been.”  

Deputy Mayor for planning, regeneration and skills, Jules Pipe, said: “For a whole century, City Lit has helped hundreds of thousands of adult learners – including many who have faced significant challenges – gain new skills and realise their ambitions. My congratulations to all at City Lit for this much-deserved award, which recognises their hard work and dedication.”

Stephen Evans, chief executive, Learning and Work Institute said, “City Lit truly is a beacon for lifelong learning in London. With this award, we celebrate every one of the learners, tutors and staff that have made City Lit such a vibrant and important institution over the last century, as well as looking forward to the next century of learning opportunities with City Lit.”

City Lit lipreading tutor Fiona Pickett was chosen from more than 200 nominations to win the Festival of Learning 2019 Tutor award, sponsored by the Education and Training Foundation.

City Lit lipreading tutor Fiona Pickett with Lorraine Braggins

City Lit lipreading tutor Fiona Pickett has won the Tutor Award. After losing her hearing, Fiona thought she would never teach again. But she has gone on to become a lipreading tutor, including training 70 lipreading tutors, and transformed the lives of hundreds of people facing similar challenges. > Watch Fiona’s story here

Fiona said, “My teaching is influenced by my own hearing loss and students know straight away that I get it. It’s rewarding to see students blossom from their first nervous attendance to becoming confident and assertive.”

Lorraine Braggins, assistant head of programme for lipreading and acquired hearing loss at City Lit said, “Fiona’s teaching is outstanding and the impact on her learners is exceptional. Her creativity in developing new and fascinating lipreading material each week is unrivalled, and her classes provide a lifeline to many who would otherwise struggle to cope.”

There was also a special recognition for City Lit students Dace Miksite and Sylvia Rowbottom who were both named as finalists. 

Dace is from Latvia and is profoundly deaf. Her first language is Latvian Sign Language but since moving to the UK she has also become competent in British Sign Language. She is currently studying at the Centre for Deaf Education at City Lit to improve her English, in particular her grammar, reading and writing skills. 

Russell Aldersson, English tutor for deaf people at City Lit said, “Learning English while not being able to acquire it in the same way that everyone else can is like climbing a linguistic mountain. Dace has persisted and persevered, taking each step at a time, and her commitment to learning is extraordinary.”

Poetry student Sylvia had to leave school during the Second World War, at age 16, but made a pledge to herself that whenever she got the chance, she would get more education. The years passed by as she worked, got married and brought up children. Sylvia retired at the age of 65 and graduated with a first-class degree in humanities when she was 70, and then joined the ‘Poetry in the making’ course at City Lit. Poetry was something she had always wanted to pursue and Sylvia knew it was a road she had to follow. Her work has been published in many poetry journals and in 2015 she won a prize for one of her poems in a competition judged by award-winning British poet Ruth Padel.

Caroline Natzler, poetry tutor at City Lit said “Sylvia's distinctive spirit, determination, generosity, insightful supportiveness to other poets and unique sense of humour are remarkable. She is a great inspiration to everyone in the class.”

Festival of Learning Award finalist 2019

City Lit deaf student Dace Mikiste 

Festival of Learning Award finalist 2019

City Lit poetry student Sylvia Rowbottom 

City Lit sponsors of the Return to Learning Award

City Lit were also proud to be supporting the Festival of Learning Awards Ceremony as sponsor of the Return to Learning Award. City Lit Principal Mark Malcomson presented the Award to Stuart Ferris, a community centre caretaker from Oldham. His undiagnosed dyslexia led to Stuart having difficulties with his literacy skills at school, but he returned to education in his 50s to improve his literacy and find work.

Festival of Learning is supported each year by the Department for Education.

Anne Milton, minister of state for skills and apprenticeships, said, “I’m thrilled to see the Festival of Learning Awards recognise and celebrate the achievements of people who are taking the opportunity to change their lives through learning new skills and knowledge.

“We want everyone to have the skills they need for life and work and Learning and Work Institute is doing some amazing work. It’s so important that we recognise the achievements of those that follow this path and make sure they get the recognition they wholeheartedly deserve. I congratulate all of the twelve winners and I look forward to hearing more about the progress they make.”

Find out more about the winners here and watch their inspirational films.


Festival of Learning Awards 2019


City Lit - Festival of Learning President's Award Winner