Northumberland secure care tutor recognised with national learning award

Posted: 05/07/22

Helen Sonnenfeld, a tutor in a secure setting in Northumberland, has been recognised for her inclusive and innovative approach to teaching with a national learning award.

Helen started working in the NHS more than two decades ago before starting night classes to become a teacher in adult education. She now works with people with learning difficulties, mental health conditions, and people with personality disorders, teaching entry Level English to IT to employability skills and leisure activities.

Helen’s ability to help and inspire people achieve what they always thought impossible is helping people develop, gain a new sense of independence, and change their self-image for the better.

Organised by Learning and Work Institute, and supported by the Department for Education, Festival of Learning is an annual campaign which aims both to celebrate the power of learning to transform lives, and to encourage more adults to take part.

Stephen Evans, Chief Executive at Learning and Work Institute, said:  

“Helen’s dedication and passion as a tutor goes far beyond the subjects that she teaches in secure care settings. She is also committed to supporting and empowering her colleagues to improve their skills, so that all their learners are able to transform their lives and reach their full potential, despite the challenges and issues they face. Helen is thoroughly deserving of this year’s Tutor award.”

Lynn Williams, Recovery and engagement lead at CNTW NHS Trust, said: “Helen has an unfaltering determination to ensure all of the people we care for are offered an education. She is so supportive of her students and always goes the extra mile to support them in gaining their qualifications and she also supports a small group of teachers who she encourages and motivates to maintain a Centre of Excellence.”

Eric, Secure Services Artist said: “She’s changed my opinion about learning and education. I didn’t really think about it for myself in the first place, but when the opportunity was there it made me want to learn more, and find out what I can learn, and what my capabilities are.”

Jenny Jarvis, Interim Chief Executive at Education and Training Foundation, said: “At the Education and Training Foundation, we strongly advocate the importance of lifelong learning and the vital role tutors play in this agenda. 

“We are delighted to continue our collaboration with the Festival of Learning through our sponsorship of the Tutor of the Year Award.  

“Many congratulations to this year’s richly deserved winner, Helen Sonnenfeld, of Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust.”