Oldham Sixth Form College was celebrating today as Dr Munira Mirza, London Deputy Mayor for Culture and Education, and one of its former students, was awarded a prestigious Association of Colleges (AoC) Gold Award by Lord Willis of Knaresborough at the House of Commons. Oldham Sixth Form is the only NW College to be represented in the awards this year, and the only sixth form college included.
Staff and students from Oldham Sixth Form College were present at the awards ceremony which is held each year to celebrate the success of further education alumni as well as acknowledge the vital role that colleges play in the careers of the winners and of their continuing achievements.
Munira was nominated by the college where she studied her A Levels between 1994-1996. On leaving the college, she was awarded two prizes – one for English Literature and one for her outstanding academic results. She then went on to Mansfield College, Oxford to read English Language and Literature, graduating in 1999.
In her current role as London Deputy Mayor for Education and Culture, Munira advises the Mayor on his priorities for culture and education and leads on the delivery of key programmes, including £40m Education and Youth investment in London.
Munira has worked for a range of culture and charitable organisations including the Royal Society of Arts, the independent think tank, Policy Exchange and Tate. In 2009 she completed her PhD at the University of Kent.
On winning her award Munira Mirza said,
“I am honoured to receive this award and be counted amongst so many distinguished people. I am truly grateful to the staff at Oldham Sixth Form College who gave me such inspiration and encouragement when I was a teenager, and opened up so many opportunities to me. I can honestly say that I would not be where I am today without the support of my former teachers. It remains a very successful organisation and I am pleased to remain in touch with them. I know they will continue to do their best for young people and the area more generally.”
Munira was among eight former students whose careers have been positively influenced by their former Colleges. The other winners are Gloria de Piero MP – Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities, Rob Forkan – Entrepreneur and founder of Gandys Flip flops, Anton Piotrowski – Chef and winner of Masterchef the Professionals 2012, Martin Brundle – Formula One driver and TV presenter/commentator, Toni Pearce – President of the National Union of Students, Alan Rusbridger – Editor of The Guardian and Christopher Bailey MBE – CEO and Chief Creative Officer of Burberry.
To highlight the important role further education continues to play for today’s students, a ‘future star’ campaign is run alongside the Gold Awards. The nominating colleges each select a current student who shows promise in a similar field to their Gold Award winner.
Freya Redrup is currently studying A Levels in History, English Language, Sociology and Mathematics at Oldham Sixth Form College and on completion hopes to study an Education with History course at Cambridge University.
Freya (age 17), had the opportunity to meet her muse at the award ceremony at the House of Commons on 11 June and find out what it takes to carve out a successful career and about the role that their college played in their success.
“Munira’s progression from student at Oldham Sixth Form College to Deputy London Mayor for Education and Culture has greatly inspired me to fulfil my own ambitions and similarly strive to become an influential figure in British social policy.”
Peter Roberts, Deputy Principal at Oldham Sixth Form College, said :
“I was lucky enough to teach Munira History during her time at OSFC and vividly remember what a truly outstanding student she was. The attributes she displayed at College, a strong appetite for learning coupled with a rigorous and meticulous eye for detail, will have served her well as she has succeeded in her career. She really was a dream to teach and we are looking forward to working with her in future.”