City Lit Blog

City Lit lipreading tutor Fiona Pickett wins Festival of Learning 2019 Tutor Award

Story added 22nd Jul 2019


When she lost her hearing, Fiona Pickett thought she would never teach again, but she has gone on to inspire others facing a similar challenge 

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

Fiona was a trained secondary teacher but losing her hearing meant she couldn’t return to a standard classroom. After starting lipreading classes rekindled her passion for teaching, Fiona has gone on to master the skill, and to help others do the same as an advanced lipreading tutor at City Lit.

To date Fiona has trained more than 70 lipreading tutors, most of whom have never taught before or been inside a classroom since they left school. She also manages a lesson-share programme for lipreading tutors across the country to help tutors learn from each other and improve the quality of teaching nationally. Fiona is expanding her lipreading teacher training course to be more inclusive, enrolling students who were born deaf and revising material and ways of teaching to accommodate them.

Organised by Learning and Work Institute, and supported by the Department for Education, Festival of Learning is an annual campaign which aims both to celebrate the power of learning to transform lives, and to encourage more adults to take part.

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.”

Stephen Evans, chief executive, Learning and Work Institute said, “Fiona is a truly exceptional tutor, who is making a tremendous difference to the lives of her learners. Her commitment to her ongoing professional development is excellent and we are delighted to present her with this award.

"Festival of Learning is all about the inspirational stories of people like Fiona. Lifelong learning is vital for all of us as jobs and society change around us and we encourage everyone to give learning a try. If you want to find out how learning could benefit you, get in touch your local college, community learning provider or the National Careers Service.”

> Read more about the 2019 Festival of Learning Awards

Watch Fiona's story...

Lipreading & Managing Hearing Loss - Courses at City Lit

Do you have difficulty following a conversation even though you may wear a hearing aid? If you have become deaf or hard of hearing then practising lipreading can really improve communication. Coming to a lipreading class can help you learn to manage your hearing loss in a relaxed atmosphere. Get information about the latest equipment, services and support.

> Discover our latest courses

#HearMyLips lipreading campaign

HearMyLips infographic

Acquired hearing loss affects independence and can devastate mental and physical health. Lipreading can help, but there aren't enough classes for people who need them. City Lit is campaigning to raise money to train more lipreading teachers nationwide. Read more on the #HearMyLips campaign >