Aspiration Awards 2022 - Apprentice of the Year Winner: Annabelle Palmer-Bennett | NCFE

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Aspiration Awards 2022 - Apprentice of the Year Winner: Annabelle Palmer-Bennett

New for the Aspiration Awards 2022 is Apprentice of the Year, which recognises exceptional apprentices for their work, either within their workplace or in relation to their classroom-based learning. This year’s winner is Annabelle Palmer-Bennett, who is completing an apprenticeship in early years. As part of this apprenticeship, she studies the Level 3 Diploma for the Early Years Workforce (Early Years Educator) 

“Inspirational and outstanding” 

Prior to enrolling on her apprenticeship, Annabelle attended university for one term but, due to the pandemic, it was not what she had envisaged and, as a result, she felt very isolated and lonely. From the outset of her apprenticeship, Annabelle’s assignments were always of a high standard – thoroughly researched, utilising many sources and current issues, and always relating the theory to her practice.  

On placement, Annabelle blew her tutors away with her conscientiousness and the staff and managers all valued her immensely, stating she is “one in a million!” 

Her relationships with the children were equally wonderful; being warm and sensitively responsive to all, but also having a no-nonsense approach. As Annabelle’s tutor, Jane Burrows, explains: “Every activity I’ve observed Annabelle carrying out has demonstrated clearly her research for fun and educational ideas, excellent resourcing and setting up, and the way she supports the little ones in activities is inspirational and outstanding!”  

A role model for apprentices 

Following her completion of the written unit on Equality, Diversity and Inclusiveness, Annabelle planned an activity to carry out with the children, promoting the concept of British values. It involved the children making handprints as part of their teaching of ‘Kind Hands’, listening to a story about democracy and explaining to the children what this big word topic means. The children were immersed in the story and illustrations, and excited to chat about their thoughts and ideas afterwards. 

Completing her award six months before the deadline, Annabelle managed to secure a place at Brockenhurst College to undertake a Foundation Degree in Childhood Studies from September 2022.  

Annabelle said: “I think apprenticeships are great. After my degree, I’ll be walking into a job with 3-4 years of work experience in the relevant field, and a degree, so it’s a no-brainer. Working and learning on the job really help with coursework too.  

“I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to work with, they make work fun and enjoyable. I’m always supported. My assessor, Jane, was always so kind and caring and made learning fun.  

“I don’t think I’ve really won anything in my life so I’m so proud of myself. The children I work with every day motivate me down this path, the people I work with too, and making a difference.” 

Jane Burrows, Trainer at Aspire Training, said: “Annabelle is not only an excellent role model for apprentices to aspire to but truly a perfect example of how it should be done in the early years and an asset to the sector!”  

Dr Anna Morrison CBE, Founder and Director of Amazing Apprenticeships, said: “Being part of this year’s judging panel was such an incredible experience. I really enjoyed hearing the stories about the apprentices’ personal journeys, and also hearing from their colleagues about the significant impact that they are having within their organisations. What really stood out to me in the category that I judged was the direct difference the apprentices are making to the lives of the children that they are supporting, and it was a complete inspiration.  

“The enthusiasm that came through in Annabelle’s application, not only for working with children, but how she has applied her apprenticeship to her role, was really impressive. I loved hearing about the effort that she puts into researching and planning the activities for the children, and in measuring the impact that these activities have on their development and wellbeing.” 

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Our Apprentice of the Year 2022 Winner: Annabelle Palmer-Bennett 

I don’t think I’ve really won anything in my life so I’m so proud of myself. The children I work with every day motivate me down this path, the people I work with too, and making a difference.

Annabelle Palmer-Bennett, apprentice in early years