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At Newbury College and University Centre Newbury (UCN) we have been marking National Apprenticeship Week (05 February 2024 - 09 February 2024) by honouring the achievements of outstanding apprentices and employers in the Thames Valley area with our prestigious annual Apprenticeship Awards.

This year, National Apprenticeship Week also marks the launch of a vibrant new "Light the Way" campaign, featuring eye-catching imagery and videos that aim to illuminate the path for future apprentices by showcasing real-life success stories. The series of compelling videos highlighting dynamic partnerships between apprentices and their employers across various sectors has been released on social media throughout the week. These videos included testimonials from apprentices and employers at Red 76 Tax, Equinix, and Crowcon Detection Instruments, along with insights from Newbury College Apprentice Development Coaches.

The awards revealed through social media announcements, celebrate the individual and collective achievements of apprentices and their employers and highlight the significant role of mentors and development coaches in guiding apprentices to success.

The winners are:

Best Apprentice - Early Years
Kayleigh Wilkins - Happy Kids Nursery

Kayleigh from Happy Kids Newbury has worked hard to overcome academic challenges and has shown great perseverance. She responds positively to feedback, taking on board the help and making constructive use of the support she is offered. It has been a delight to watch Kayleigh discover a love of learning in her field and see how she translates this into her practice with young children. Kayleigh shines when she talks about her experiences at work. She and her achievements are what apprenticeships are all about!

Best Apprentice - Engineering
Alfie Partington - Snap-on

Alfie shone from the start at Snap-on, quickly picking up skills that usually take an engineer a few months to learn. The skills he has developed through a combination of college work and on-the-job experience have enabled him to progress speedily within the service department at Snap-on.

Best Apprentice - Business
Beth Burns - Nustream

Beth's skills and abilities within her role have developed quickly over the course of her apprenticeship. She has learned, progressed and achieved both as an employee of Nustream and as a Business Administrator apprentice. The quality and high standard of her work are evident, and she approaches all aspects of her work with a smile, a calm demeanour and a willingness to learn and improve. She has produced an excellent portfolio of work, for which she should be very proud, and she has also established herself as an important member of the Nustream team. 

Best Apprentice - Finance
James Whiterow - Red 76 Tax

James has nurtured client relationships, independently resolved client issues, and carved a niche for himself, training and supporting clients on Xero. James has become highly proficient in the use of our accounting software, showing attention to detail, accurate documenting skills and critical thinking. He undertakes bookkeeping, payroll, VAT and CIS for over 30 clients, from sole traders to limited companies. James has collaborated internally to implement effective changes to Red 76 Tax processes to ensure we work efficiently and to a consistently high standard.

Best Degree Apprentice
Gloria Arias - Thames Water

Gloria from Thames Water has provided a consistently high level of work and continues to contribute to all sessions, providing strong observations and constructive feedback. Gloria has also supported learners through the Student Rep process and Student Voice.

Early Years Employer of the Year
The Willows Primary School

The apprentice's learning is woven into the whole team approach within the school. As well as encouraging development through day-to-day practice and opportunities for reflection, Willows Primary School have created wider learning experiences by encouraging them to shadow any element of the work within the school. This gives context to the apprentices’ day-to-day practice and promotes the idea of career progression. Apprentices are actively encouraged to make suggestions from their learning and try new ideas, which brings benefits to them, the children they work with and the wider team who can also gain from these experiences. 

Electrical Installation Employer of the Year

Equinix is dedicated and invested in utilising apprenticeships to develop staff. Led by Tracey Magnus, Equinix pairs learners with third-party contractors to enhance their skills. They also offer first aid courses, IPAF, and project management - the list is endless. The support for their staff's well-being is amazing.

Finance Employer of the Year

Beard encourages and nurtures its apprentices, including supporting an apprentice’s transition from another company. They encourage collaborative working, utilising line managers and the wider team, guiding and mentoring their apprentices to progress to the final stages of their qualification.

Best Mentor
Tracey Magnus - Equinix

Tracey lives, breathes and sleeps the apprenticeship scheme at Equinix. She is incredibly supportive of all their apprentices and is a real asset to her organisation. She is constantly undertaking reflective practice and seeking opportunities to support and develop apprentices at Equinix.

Best Development Coach
Paulina Ojo

Paulina is a hardworking and conscientious Development Coach who encourages and pushes her Chartered Manager Degree apprentices to produce the highest quality work. She has a great rapport with her apprentices and works closely with their Line Managers to ensure they remain on track and continue to progress well through their apprenticeship. Paulina has a wealth of knowledge and experience that she shares with her apprentices, and she is an asset to both the UCN and Apprenticeship Team.

Best Tutor
Steve Purchell

Steve's dedication has been nothing but outstanding. His commitment throughout the apprentice journey has been inspiring. Investing in our programme, his clear and effective communication supports our teams and inspires our Mentors. He has a deep understanding of the material and a genuine passion for teaching.
Steve is an invested tutor, ensuring all his pupils learn to the best of their abilities, explaining and engaging the class in every lesson. Steve is an invested tutor and takes pride in his job. Steve goes above and beyond by having monthly catch-up 1 to 1 meetings to ensure everyone is achieving goals and targets set. Steve holds us to a high standard to ensure we complete each unit by giving us good information and feedback on where we succeeded and the improvements that are Required. Steve has also gone above and beyond to assist me with my eating disorder, ensuring I have the correct support to help me through my college days.

Dr Jo Houghton, Vice Principal - HE and Skills at Newbury College and UCN, expressed her enthusiasm for the initiative, stating, "Our 'Light the Way' campaign launched for National Apprenticeship Week 2024 is shining a spotlight on the exceptional talents within our apprenticeship programmes and the invaluable support from employers across the region. Celebrating this year's winners reminds us of the powerful impact apprenticeships have on individuals, businesses, and our local economy."

Newbury College and UCN continue to be at the forefront of delivering outstanding apprenticeship programmes that exceed national average achievement rates and directly respond to the evolving needs of the local and national economy. By fostering strong partnerships with businesses and focusing on career-oriented education, they are pivotal in shaping a skilled, adaptable workforce ready to meet the challenges of tomorrow.

To learn more about apprenticeship opportunities with Newbury College and University Centre Newbury, visit or contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..