Brighton student wins national award for educational excellence, outshining hundreds of nominees

Local student Simon Wilson from City College Brighton and Hove has been named Outstanding BTEC Adult Learner of the Year at the National BTEC Awards, held in London on 3rd July 2014. The ceremony was held in recognition of the nearly one million students around the country who are studying BTEC qualifications this year. Pearson, who own Edexcel, the awarding body for BTECs, received over 1000 nominations across the 20 award categories for this year’s Awards.

Now in their fourth year, the Awards were hosted by DJ and Presenter Jameela Jamil, at the Royal Horticultural Halls in London. The attendees (who included the winning students, teachers, and leaders in education) also heard from philanthropist and presenter, Katie Piper, and were treated to a dance performance from BTEC students. Ahead of the Awards Ceremony, the winners, their family, friends and nominators attended a Parliamentary reception in the House of Lords, hosted by Government Education Spokesperson Baroness Sharp.

Winner Biography: Simon Wilson, City College Brighton and Hove:

Simon was nominated by his tutor Phil Jackson. Simon was born with Cerebral Palsy and is not able to move or speak at all. He communicates though a speech programme and controls his computer via eye-gaze software. Despite all of this, he holds a degree in Social Psychology and a GNVQ in Advanced Information Technology and is currently studying for a BTEC Level 3 Certificate in Interactive Media at City College Brighton and Hove.

In 2007 Simon set up his own freelance business focussing on equality and independence for people with physical disabilities and started his own website – – to provide training workshops and consultancy in disability awareness to others. Alongside his BTEC, Simon also visits schools and colleges to work with children and young adults who use communication aids, encouraging them to feel comfortable and confident about using their communication equipment.

The judges praised Simon's achievements in Interactive Media - a discipline that requires precision, enormous attention to detail and many hours of fine adjustments – as simply phenomenal and described him as an outstanding student and an inspiration to anyone hoping to overcome a disability.

Mark Anderson, Managing Director, Pearson UK said, ‘The National BTEC Awards are a fantastic way to celebrate all that is excellent in vocational education and I always enjoy meeting these truly inspirational teachers and students.’

‘Every year, thousands of BTEC students go on to university and good jobs that really value their skills. They achieve great things in a wide variety of industries vital to the economy, ranging from business and engineering to ICT and healthcare.’

“At a time when the value of vocational learning at school and college is continuing to be robustly debated, we believe the example set by these Award winners is part of a growing body of evidence that clearly demonstrates their valuable contribution to both the education system and the broader economy.’

‘It is vital to support and celebrate the hard work and achievements of outstanding BTEC students and their teachers. This year’s judges were impressed by the quality and number of nominations we received but Simon really stood out as a truly exceptional student.’

Award winner Simon Wilson said “I am thrilled to win this award. My BTEC has helped me understand so much about interactive media. It has also given me more self-confidence as well as the determination, motivation and the desire to succeed when I’ve finished the course.’

Simon’s tutor, Phil Jackson, said: ‘I find Simon incredibly inspirational. He sets his mind to doing something and just gets it done. Whenever I find myself procrastinating about something I remind myself that Simon would probably be halfway to completing it! Only last week he was showing me business cards he had made to bring to the Awards to help promote the new business he has started using skills learned on the course. I tell all my students you have to be pro-active; don't wait for the opportunity to come to you, use your skills and get out there and make it happen yourself. That's Simon all over, not letting things get in his way.’

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About Pearson: Pearson is the world's leading learning company, with 40,000 employees in more than 80 countries working to help people of all ages to make measurable progress in their lives through learning. Learn more at

About City College Brighton and Hove: Situated in the heart of Brighton and graded ‘Outstanding’ in key areas by Ofsted in its June 2011 report, City College Brighton and Hove is an international centre of vocational excellence and one of the top performing Further Education Colleges in the country. Every year, 2,000 full-time, 7,000 part time, 400 Higher Education and 400 14-16 year old students as well as many international and European students choose City College as their place of further and higher education training. In addition, the College provides training to over 2,000 businesses via its ‘City Business Skills’ department which focuses on employer training needs. Offering over 700 courses from basic level right through to business and postgraduate training, City College is working with its partners to develop the workforce of the future.