Edinburgh College lecturer scoops top education award

An Edinburgh College lecturer has been recognised for her hard work and dedication in meeting the teaching challenges presented by COVID-19 as part of the Scottish Institute of Enterprise (SIE) Festival of Innovation.

Graphic Design lecturer Helena Good scooped the Imaginative Educator Award in the Individual (College) category which was announced at SIE’s Shaping the Future online conference yesterday (Wednesday 23 September) for her work in setting up the Get Real project to give her students experience working on creative briefs for real clients.

When faced with the thought of her students not being able to showcase their work at an annual end-of-year exhibition, Helena worked with them to ensure this time was used so they could utilise their creative skills to help support community organisations impacted by lockdown.

The Get Real project was born, which meant students would have the opportunity to get experience working on real creative briefs set by organisations who required assistance to help develop a solution to a challenge they were facing as a result of the lockdown.

Helena split her students into two groups who worked on briefs set by The Blank Faces, the UK’s first fashion label aimed at ending homelessness, and Molke, an ethical underwear company based in Perthshire. The students were partnered with a designer from agency Acrylicize London and freelance designer Kirsten Murray who helped mentor them during the project. Edinburgh College graduate Email Blum, now a freelance designer, supported the students to create the below video of their experience.

Helena said: “I’m honoured to win this award. Despite facing many challenges our students worked incredibly hard during Project Real and they should be very proud of what they achieved. The class of 2020 has had to ‘get real’ in a way none of us could ever have imagined. We have all cried, laughed and shared stories in an open and honest way. I have felt incredibly humbled by their resilience.”

HND Graphic Design graduate Rachel Nesbitt said: “The Get Real project was a fantastic opportunity to work with organisations who make a difference but needed a helping hand due to lockdown. At a time when we would normally be focused on finishing our course and promoting ourselves, we were encouraged by Helena to join forces and use our skills for good and ask how can we help others. Over the 2 years I have known Helena, I have never stopped being amazed by the enthusiasm, passion and dedication that she has not only for her students but for the wider educational community and beyond.”

HND Graphic Design student Gemma Gorton said: “In a time of so much uncertainty for students and graduates, it was a privilege to contribute to a project like Get Real. Helena is a tutor who really cares about her students, so when their graduate show was cancelled, finding a new way to celebrate their talents was her first priority. By embracing the chaos and collaborating with her students, she found a way to get their work out there whilst also helping others in need. The result was a truly unique project that brought together students, designers and businesses alike and brought some hope to an otherwise difficult situation.”

Head of faculty for Creative Industries Jakki Jeffery said: “I would like to congratulate Helena and her class of 2020 for this outstanding achievement and the success of their Get Real Project. Under the leadership of Helena, and with the support of some fantastic partners, the Get Real Project not only had a positive impact on students by helping them to develop essential skills such as creativity, critical-thinking and problem-solving, it also had an impact on some fantastic community organisations who had been affected by the lockdown.”