How it felt to win the Tutor Award in 2019…

Earlier this year, City Lit lipreading tutor Fiona Pickett won the Festival of Learning 2019 Tutor Award. Fiona 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 at City Lit, she rekindled her passion for teaching. Fiona has gone on to master the skill of lipreading, and to help others do the same as an advanced lipreading tutor at City Lit. To date, Fiona has also trained more than 70 lipreading tutors, many of whom have had to change their career path due to hearing loss.

Fiona describes how it felt to be nominated, and to win a Festival of Learning award but also the importance of nominating one of your colleagues or students…

‘Being shortlisted for the Festival of Learning Tutor Award was a real honour and I was stunned when I was awarded the prize for this category.  It’s amazing.

Learning that a senior colleague, Lorraine Braggins, assistant head of programme for lipreading and acquired hearing loss at City Lit, had taken the time to nominate me for this award, showing her confidence in me had a meaningful and strong impact.

It is great to know that my colleagues and students do notice and value when we go the extra mile. 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.

I felt very nervous when I was standing on the podium at the awards ceremony, but also very proud of the job that I am doing. It made me realise that I can make a difference to people’s lives. It’s had a great effect on my students and how they feel about their hearing loss. They feel proud to have been part of my journey.

I also feel like an Ambassador for the City Lit; it’s had a ripple effect on my colleagues. I’ve been surprised at the number of people who’ve approached me to offer their congratulations.  It definitely has a ‘feel good factor’.

I would urge everyone to nominate for the Festival of Learning awards. Whether they win or not, nominating one of your colleagues is a real boost to their confidence and a great recognition of the quality of their work.’


Nominations for 2020 are now open until Tuesday 11 February. If you know any individuals, tutors, employers or projects that have used learning to transform their lives or the lives of others, nominate them for an award now.