A City Lit lipreading tutor who has transformed hundreds of lives has won the Education and Training Foundation (ETF)-sponsored Tutor award at the 2019 Festival of Learning. Fiona Pickett was chosen from more than 200 nominations.
When she lost her hearing, Fiona thought she would never teach again, but she has gone on to inspire others facing a similar challenge. She trained as a secondary teacher but losing her hearing meant she couldn’t return to a standard classroom. After starting lipreading classes rekindled her passion for teaching, Fiona has gone on to master the skill, and to help others do the same as an advanced lipreading tutor at City Lit.
To date Fiona has trained more than 70 lipreading tutors, most of whom have never taught before or been inside a classroom since they left school. She also manages a lesson-share programme for lipreading tutors across the country to help tutors learn from each other and improve the quality of teaching nationally. Fiona is now expanding her lipreading teacher training to be more inclusive by developing innovative material and ways of teaching for students who were born deaf.
Fiona said, “My teaching is influenced by my own hearing loss and students know straight away that I get it. It’s rewarding to see students blossom from their first nervous attendance to becoming confident and assertive, realising that they’re deaf, not daft.”
Lorraine Braggins, assistant head of programme for lipreading and acquired hearing loss at City Lit said, “Fiona’s teaching is outstanding and the impact on her learners is exceptional. Her creativity in developing new and fascinating lipreading material each week is unrivalled, and her classes provide a lifeline to many who would otherwise struggle to cope.”
Fiona is one of 12 winners announced at the Festival of Learning awards. 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.