Former Falkirk police officer is star learner in education awards

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A former senior Falkirk police officer-turned Forth Valley College learner was highly commended at a top education award ceremony.

Stewart Kirkland (53) was nominated in the Lifelong Learning Candidate category at this year’s Scottish Qualification Authority (SQA) Star Awards which took place last Friday at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow.

The RAF veteran and former police inspector studied for an Access to Degree Studies course at Forth Valley College’s Falkirk campus and was nominated for his work as a class representative, helping to encourage other students to achieve their full potential.

Stewart‘s long term goal is to become a lecturer and he is one step closer to achieving that, having recently enrolled in a psychology degree course at Edinburgh Napier University.

The annual SQA Star Awards celebrates outstanding achievements in education and training across Scotland, the UK and around the world.

Stewart, who is originally from Grangemouth but now lives in Maddiston, said he felt very “humbled” by the nomination.

Speaking ahead of the ceremony, he said: “I was surprised by the nomination as I feel it could have gone to any number of people I worked with at the college but I am very much looking forward to going along to the awards ceremony especially given it falls on my birthday!” he said.

“When I left school I wanted to join the police but didn’t any qualifications so I had to go to night school to get my O Level English. Also, when I was in the RAF police I had to do a distance learning course in maths to get into the civilian police force.

“I am proud to say that despite my initial difficulties getting into the police I went on to achieve 13 years service with the RAF Police and 20 years service with Police Scotland and actually became one of the most senior police officers in Central Scotland. For someone who left school with no qualifications that’s not bad and I like to think I am an example to others that if you are determined enough you can succeed at anything you put your mind to.

“I really enjoyed studying at Forth Valley College. It was such a friendly environment and everyone wants you to succeed. I would advise any

Forth Valley College’s curriculum manager Scott Harrison described Stewart as “a positive role model and influence on his course and classmates”. He added: “Although being a busy father and volunteer as well as student, Stewart still kept volunteering for more and more events, programmes and charities. I wish Stewart the best of luck, but I know that he does not need it as his natural charisma and talent will take him very far in his future studies and career.”

SQA chief executive, Dr Janet Brown, said: “The quality of the nominations for this year’s awards has been outstanding. We have seen first-hand the dedication and commitment, shown by the candidates studying for SQA qualifications, and the passion and ingenuity of the teachers, lecturers, and specialists delivering our courses across the country, throughout the UK, and indeed around the world. I congratulate Stewart, as well as all the other finalists, on making it this far and wish them all the very best at the awards ceremony.”