Acorn Academy manager recognised for teaching excellence

A photo of Derek Fredericks, Acorn Academy Manager
Derek Fredericks, Acorn Academy Manager

Acorn Academy teacher Derek Fredericks has been awarded the Teaching Excellence Award at this year’s Educate North Awards.

Fredericks, an academy manager at Acorn Academy (part of the Calico Group), scooped the award as recognition for his fantastic work with learners who are dependent on drugs or alcohol.

The win comes as over 80% of learners who attended courses in 2018/19 reported progressing into employment, volunteering and/or further learning.

Delivered by Acorn Academy and funded by Stockport Continuing Education, Fredericks and his team provide training courses that support learners to progress to other learning, volunteering and/or employment. Courses cover topics such as peer mentoring, emotional intelligence and counselling, and are made possible thanks to funding from Greater Manchester Combined Authorities’ Adult Skills Budget.

Individuals come from a wide range of backgrounds with addiction as the common factor. Fredericks uses his direct experience of addiction to inform his approach and the content of the courses he delivers. This lived experience allows Fredericks to break down barriers with learners and deliver courses that are challenging but never judgmental.

Learners asked about Fredericks’ courses and the support he provides characterised him as ‘inspirational and charismatic’. Others also talk about his ‘compassion and no-nonsense approach’.

‘Derek’s style is very much reflective and challenges perceptions in a way that allows them to gain insight into the issues of addiction,” commented Sean Burke, service manager at Stockport Continuing Education Service, who nominated Fredericks for the award.

‘Always interesting and thought-provoking but never patronising or dismissive, Derek is a mentor and friend to many.’

A 2018/19 survey found that 81% of students achieved positive progression, meaning they went on to employment, volunteering or further learning. Furthermore, a Stockport Continuing Education Service survey reported that 90% of course participants saw improved health and wellbeing and improvements in their ability to socialise, work, communicate and actively participate in society.

The Educate North Awards 2020 were announced via a live stream on YouTube on Thursday 22nd April 2021 – postponed from the previous year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The judges on the night said: ‘Derek has made an outstanding contribution in a very challenging area. This entry is very positive, highlighting the good work of the Acorn Centre and Derek in particular demonstrating initiatives taking place which have produced worthwhile results.’

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