Home   Bury St Edmunds   News   Article

West Suffolk College lecturer wins Association of Colleges award



More news, no ads

LEARN MORE


A lecturer at West Suffolk College, in Bury St Edmunds, says she is 'honoured' after winning a national award for championing equality, diversity and inclusion in her role.

Ellisha Soanes, a health and social care lecturer and equality, diversity and inclusion lead, was presented with the Association of Colleges' (AoC) President's Award at a ceremony in Birmingham last Tuesday.

The accolade is bestowed for the 'unique and profound' impact an individual has had on their college and community.

Ellisha Soanes at the AoC awards in Birmingham on November 16. Picture: West Suffolk College. (53218831)
Ellisha Soanes at the AoC awards in Birmingham on November 16. Picture: West Suffolk College. (53218831)

Ellisha was recognised for her work over the last 18 months raising awareness of racial issues following the death of George Floyd, in the USA.

She started a conversation with her pupils about racism, encouraging them to explore what equality, diversity and inclusion meant to them and their own experiences.

This then led to a host of high-profile events, student-led campaigns and funding from the European Social Fund and PLACE 21 to employ a group of pupils and staff at the college to be ambassadors for equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI), of which Ellisha is one.

Nikos Savvas, Ellisha Soanes, Shirley Williams (diversity consultant), Jeff Greenidge (director for Diversity at the Education and Training Foundation and the Association of Colleges), Melody Broomfield (West Suffolk College student) and Esther Ruse (singer and former West Suffolk College student). Picture: West Suffolk College.
Nikos Savvas, Ellisha Soanes, Shirley Williams (diversity consultant), Jeff Greenidge (director for Diversity at the Education and Training Foundation and the Association of Colleges), Melody Broomfield (West Suffolk College student) and Esther Ruse (singer and former West Suffolk College student). Picture: West Suffolk College.

The EDI ambassadors have embedded black history into the curriculum, so it is taught all year round.

Ellisha said: "I'm honoured to be recognised and I would like to thank the College, our supportive partners and fantastic EDI team.

"Education is the most powerful weapon which we can use to change the world - we can always do more and I hope others follow our lead."

Sally Dicketts, AoC president said she was 'delighted' to present Ellisha the award.

"Getting to tell Ellisha’s story at our first in-person conference since the pandemic was a great honour," she said.

“Ellisha’s work to bring about positive change with her students on equality, diversity and inclusion has had a profound impact and becoming the first college in the country to teach black history all year round is an amazing achievement.

“Her passion and enthusiasm for equality, diversity and inclusion and co-creating awareness-raising events and projects with students has had a powerful impact on young people, staff and the wider community.

"The sheer amount of work undertaken in such a short time is impressive and the ambassador programme that was launched recently will ensure this hard work has a long-lasting impact, creating a legacy Ellisha should be proud of."

Dr Nikos Savvas, CEO of Eastern Colleges Group (which includes West Suffolk College and Abbeygate Sixth Form in Bury St Edmunds and One Sixth Form in Ipswich), said: "Ellisha is a truly inspirational leader in our community.

"Her work and her passion means that she is leading from the front, as she listens to students and generates the discussions that matter in a way that resonates.

"There is always more we can do, but Ellisha’s leadership has changed the way we view and approach equality, diversity and inclusion.

"By doing this she is changing attitudes and shaping futures. I am incredibly proud of her achievements."

News from our universities, local primary and secondary schools including Ofsted inspections and league tables can be found here.

Read more: All the latest news from Bury St Edmunds