27th June 2022
NSCG Head of Student Services, Denise Haney has been nationally recognised as the winner of the 'Support Staff of the Year' category at this years Aspiration Awards, from the Northern Council for Further Education (NCFE). The category aims to recognise and honour a member of the behind-the-scenes staff who have gone above and beyond to help learners or their colleagues.
Head of Student Service, Denise is described by her team as a “true all-rounder" who strives to ensure all students have the best possible outcomes despite their starting point, putting inclusivity at the heart of everything that she does. She works tirelessly to make sure that the students have an outstanding college experience, working with her own staff team and forging meaningful relationships and partnerships with external agencies, to provide wide reaching support for all students.
Commenting on her win, Denise said: “I am beyond proud to be nominated for this award. During my 19 year tenure at Newcastle and Stafford Colleges Group, I’ve had the privilege of serving my local community and working with thousands of wonderful young people from many different walks of life.
I’m a firm believer in the transformative nature of further education and passionate about understanding the needs of learners, championing their rights, and ensuring that their voice is heard. I feel lucky to work with a fantastic team and supportive senior managers, who genuinely place students interests at the heart of everything they do.”
Denise responded and listened to the changing support needs of the students over the last 18 months and recognised how she could change working practices and processes to provide more flexible and responsive solutions to the needs of the students. At NSCG, student feedback is very important, and Denise and her team organised the annual Student Conference and themed the conference around current areas of concerns for young people who have just experienced an unprecedented time during the pandemic. This included mental health, examinations and assessments.
The information received from the students during the Student Conference helped to shape Denise’s strategic thinking on what the college could improve on to support these young people whilst at college, and for the next steps in their future careers.
Denise's work in supporting her staff team to understand and make these required changes for the benefit of the students was “exceptional.” Providing guidance and relevant information to help staff to understand the need for change.
Brian Queen, Head of Customer Service at NCFE, said: “In terms of my experience of judging this award, the first thing that I want to say is that it was really inspiring reading all of the nominations for ‘Support Staff of the Year’. It’s great to see so many talented and inspirational people out there who are going above and beyond the call of duty to support their colleagues and the learners.
“The consequence of this was that it was incredibly difficult to choose a winner. However, reading Denise’s nomination about how she was so passionate about enduring positive outcomes for the students from different starting points, and how she has changed processes to introduce more support around mental health. What really came across was how the students were 100% at the heart of what Denise does, day in, day out to help them with their next steps following college.
“A well deserving winner. Well done Denise and keep up the fantastic work you are doing to promote and advance learning.”