'Life-changing excellence': AAT awards top training providers, accountancy students

28 March 2024

Winners at the AAT Training Provider Awards 2024

The University of Gibraltar, New City College, Riverside Training and First Intuition were amongst the top providers, tutors and accountancy students recognised at AAT's annual awards held in Nottingham this month.

"Our Training Provider Awards recognise the life-changing excellence evident in the work of so many of our training partners. And this year's calibre of nominations was exceptionally strong," said Sarah Beale, AAT's chief executive. The Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) is the professional body for accounting technicians and bookkeepers. It is also the largest awarding organisation of accountancy qualifications in the UK. More than 70,000 people are studying towards AAT qualifications, short courses and CPD modules at any given time. Most AAT students learn through its network of affiliated training providers.

AAT first held the awards in 2016, but this year was the first opportunity providers had to come together since the onset of the pandemic.

Addressing the room of 150 finalists, Beale said: "I want to congratulate each and every training provider, student and tutor who has been shortlisted for these prestigious awards. Each one of you has shown outstanding performance in the classroom, online or in the workplace."

Beale told the crowd that AAT qualifications were open to anyone with the "ambition and determination to attain them". She also said the awards were a strong endorsement of the winning providers' outstanding status in the field of accountancy education.

"Whilst being a finalist for an AAT Training Provider Award is an achievement in itself; the small number who clinched the top prizes can now rightly claim to be industry leaders."

Beale thanked the judges, among them accountancy media leader Graham Hambly, for volunteering their time to shortlist dozens of stand-out nominations to make the final call on the night's winners.

Ten AAT awards were up for grabs. Prize categories for training centres included best small, medium and large training provider of the year, best new provider, best distance learning provider, and best training provider of AAT's highly regarded apprenticeship programme.

Award winners alongside event host Scarlette Douglas and AAT President Kevin Bragg

AAT best student, apprentice of the year announced

Exceptional educators were also acknowledged at the awards night. The award for best AAT tutor of the year went to Karen Groves, of e-Careers. Meanwhile, learners Stephanie Goodsell and Katie Robinson received AAT's top awards for best apprentice and best student of the year, respectively.

The night's heart-stealing moments first went to AAT Apprentice of the Year, when Stephanie Goodsell collected her award on stage supported by her positively beaming mum and nan, supremely proud of their Steph's achievement.

Guests were told that Steph, who studies with Peak Accountancy Training excelled in everything she does. She displayed serious commitment to both her academic studies and workplace responsibilities, having achieved first time passes on all her AAT assessments and excellent grades in the process. Steph also received outstanding feedback from her placement employer, with the firm's leadership noting the winning apprentice excelled in a variety of workplace challenges, including dealing with VAT returns in foreign currencies and even playing a teaching role in helping senior managers navigate new accounting software.

The evening's host, television personality Scarlette Douglas, said for many students taking the apprenticeship route, balancing work and study is not always straightforward.

"The world of work can be a challenging environment to adjust to, especially for those fresh out of school, but some apprentices excel and thrive. Steph, our AAT apprentice of the year, is clearly one of them."

Douglas also announced AAT's Student of the Year as Training Link's Katie Robinson, the second 'heart steal' of the evening.

"A remarkable student in every single aspect," Douglas told the audience, "Katie overcame adversity when her dad became seriously ill early into her studies, requiring a three hour-round trip to visit him in hospital. She did this every day, on top of her study and work commitments. Despite the challenges, Katie achieved impeccable academic results in her AAT studies – even sharing her journey to motivate and inspire others."

AAT's Claire Bennison, an award winner and AAT's Laura Ward

Innovation recognised

AAT's Executive Director of Customer, Partnerships and Innovation, Claire Bennison, said the awards highlighted AAT's high calibre of training providers and their shared enthusiasm for trying new ways of working.

"Dedication; innovation; unique approaches to teaching and learning: these are exceptional training providers who are doing exceptional things. Their students are succeeding as a result."

Bennison said the winners all displayed an abundance of passion. They embraced AAT's open access philosophy, she said. "It's our training providers who are key to making good on AAT's commitment to equip every AAT learner with the practical skills they need to succeed," she said.

The sentiment was echoed by Beale who closed her comments for the night by expressing gratitude for the ongoing and highly valued support shown towards AAT by its partners.

"We know that AAT's qualifications and the real-world skills they provide can be life changing. But the reality is that our good work only happens because of you: our AAT training providers, tutors, our amazing students. You are all AAT. And we are proud to be AAT alongside you," she said.

AAT Chief Executive Sarah Beale making her speech at the Training Provider Awards 2024

Training providers debate impacts of AI

On Friday 17 March, an expanded group of AAT training providers met to share their best practice and participate in workshops designed to strengthen their offering to current and prospective students.

The Training Provider Conference canvassed topical issues such as AI in accounting, ethical business practices, and they might teach sustainability advisory to a changing profession. Experts also offered participants their insights into the benefits of communicating in plain English to domestic and international students.

"This has been an incredibly successful couple of days in Nottingham. We depart closer to our training provider partners, inspired by their achievements and those of their students and apprentices, and ready to tackle shared challenges stronger than ever before," said Beale.

Provider Award Winners

  • Small Training Provider of the Year – University of Gibraltar
  • Medium Training Provider of the Year – Future Connect Training and Recruitment Ltd
  • Large Training Provider of the Year – New City College
  • Best New Training Provider of the Year – 3 Counties Accounts Training Service Ltd
  • International Training Provider of the Year – MAS Education: Management & Accountancy School (Myanmar)
  • Apprenticeship Training Provider of the Year – Riverside Training
  • Distance Learning Training Provider of the Year – Premier Training

Student and Tutor Award Winners

  • AAT Tutor of the Year – Karen Groves (e-Careers)
  • AAT Apprentice of the Year – Stephanie Goodsell (Peak Accountancy Training)
  • AAT Student of the Year – Katie Robinson (Training Link)

AAT Special Recognition Award Winner

First Intuition

Notes to editors

Photos for press are available for download.