Black History Month 2012 logoBlack History Month

For Black History Month (October 2012), NIACE hosted a series of interviews with people who are currently ‘making history' across the learning and education sector.

NIACE is aware of the dramatic differences in participation, progression and success levels between particular groups (and sub-groups) of minority ethnic adults who access learning and continues to advocate on behalf of those groups who, for varying reasons, are under-represented.

A NIACE series for Black History Month (October 2012) - Making History: inspiring communities - includes interviews with Further Education principals and Adult Learners' Week Award winners from black and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds. They showcase inspirational learning journeys by highlighting the impact that success through dedication, determination and hard-work has had not only on the individual, but on their wider communities.

The interviews are linked below and alongside them, NIACE is also asking people to share their own stories about who has inspired them to learn and to achieve, by commenting on this blog post. This will build a picture of the vast array of unsung heroes who are encouraging people to change their lives for the better in communities across the whole country every single day.



Paul Jarvis

Paul Jarvis, a 2012 Adult Learners' Week award winner, changed his life around through learning, after 26 years of drug misuse. Paul now works as a Blenheim CDP project worker, supporting others to take control of their lives.

"Once I got away from the lifestyle I was living, my brain became clearer, I became mature and calmer and I started embracing learning...If a little bit more time and patience was spent on me as a child - who knows where I would be today, but I am very proud of where I am at the same time."

Read Paul's full interview here.


Suzanne Overton-EdwardsSuzanne Overton-Edwards is Principal for Gateway College and embarked on her teaching career in the 1980s, overcoming a number of barriers.

"I feel very honoured and very humbled being in this position. I am a small cog in the life of the organisation - I have to make it as good as I possibly can for the students who are here today and for those who are coming tomorrow."

Read Suzanne's full interview here.


Gary ChinnGary Chin is Principal of Greenwich Community College and an active member of the Network for Black Professionals, mentoring at least two aspiring managers each year who want to move up the management ladder in FE.

"At every opportunity I try to raise the profile and encourage BAME learners to aim high. Whatever you want to achieve you can do it! I think they need to hear that more."

Read Gary's full interview here.


Satnam GillSatnam Gill, Principal of Working Men's College, became an educator to help people like his mum and dad, who he believes, never fulfilled their full potential due to their lack of English skills.

"If there is a barrier to people achieving their potential in this country, it is not being able to communicate. I couldn't run an institution...where I cannot provide English classes, irrespective of the funding regime."

Read Satnam's full interview here.


Karen KingKaren King, a 2012 Adult Learners' Week award winner, overcame the challenges of working in a male-orientated environment by embarking on a quest to find out more about her rights, which led to a new role for her.

"I believe we should always have that hunger to learn - everyday we should be learning something. It doesn't stop once you have landed yourself a job, you make sure that you continue the learning process."

Read Karen's full interview here.