The competition, which celebrates achievement in the country’s most widely taken vocational qualification, was held in London on July 7.
The awards recognise the nearly one million students around the country who are studying BTEC qualifications this year. Pearson, who own BTECs, received over 800 nominations across the 20 award categories for this year’s Awards.
Now in their fifth year, the Awards were hosted by comedian Rob Beckett, at the Royal Horticultural Halls in London.
Ahead of the awards ceremony the winners, their family, friends and nominators attended a Parliamentary reception in the House of Commons.
Zach’s educational journey is the epitome of a BTEC success story.
Having left school with one GCSE above a C grade, Zach gained a BTEC Level 2 Diploma in Art and Design at Priestley College before progressing to a BTEC National Extended Diploma in Art and Design.
He achieved a triple-starred distinction in his BTEC alongside GCSEs in English and Maths and is now studying Costume Design at Cleveland College of Art and Design.
During his time at college, Zach was a focused and determined student who was popular with his tutors and peers and proved himself as a talented and innovative designer.
One of his biggest challenges was to develop and pitch a wallpaper design for Barclays Bank. His winning pitch, concept and design were described by his tutors and the Barclays team as exceptional and his wallpaper now adorns Barclays’ Knutsford offices.
Zach also contributed significantly to wider college life during his time at Priestley, designing costumes for the college’s catwalk shows and attending every college open event where he gave talks to visiting groups of students and encouraged them to follow the vocational route.
The judges described Zach is an outstanding and exemplary student whose BTEC journey has taken him from a school-leaver with poor GCSE grades to a highly capable, confident learner.
Zach said: “I cannot believe I have won this award. This BTEC course and the opportunities I have experienced has enabled me to achieve the maximum grade available and helped me to begin the journey to gaining my Costume Design degree, which I hope to use working within the television and film industry”.
Andrea Marren, Curriculum Manager for Art and Design from Priestley College, said: “Zach took every available opportunity on both his BTEC level 2 and 3 courses to experience a broad range of projects set by tutors or by industry. The units could be personalised to his interests and enabled him to excel and form links to his chosen career direction. Throughout the courses he was an outstanding student determined to succeed. It has been a pleasure to work with him”.
Mark Anderson, Managing Director at Pearson UK, said: “The National BTEC Awards is an opportunity for us to shout from the rooftops not just about the winners, but also about the achievements of BTEC students, apprentices, teachers, schools, colleges and training providers up and down the country.
“Every year, thousands of BTEC students go on to university and good jobs that really value their skills. Whether as a stand-alone qualification or combined with A-levels, BTEC represents the fastest growing route into education and these awards demonstrate why that’s the case. They achieve great things in a wide variety of industries vital to the economy, ranging from business and engineering to ICT and healthcare. Recent figures showed that pupils from lower socio-economic groups are twice as likely to go to university on the back of a BTEC, rather than traditional A-levels.
“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 Zach really stood out as a truly exceptional student.”