A TEACHER who has helped countless pupils through their studies at Abingdon & Witney College has won a national award.

Accounting tutor Karen Walker, from Witney, received the prestigious Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) Tutor of the Year prize.

Ms Walker, who describes herself as a 'Witney girl born and bred', impressed judges with her 'innovative approach' to boosting students' employability.

But many of her pupils have praised the teacher's human side, paying tribute to her 'excellent support, knowledge, and dedication'.

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Ms Walker aims to emphasise both the personal and educational side of her classes, but admitted the prize was simply the icing on the cake.

She said: “To receive an award for doing a job I enjoy so much is amazing.

"The AAT courses have changed people's lives and I love hearing how well my students have done after achieving their qualification.

"I am very privileged to teach such hard working and dedicated students on our Accounting courses at Abingdon & Witney College.

"It is my mission to make the classes a supportive but challenging environment that they look forward to.”

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Many students have experienced challenging issues during their time on Ms Walker's courses, with one even revealing the teacher supported her through a family bereavement.

The student explained: "Karen is my amazing teacher. She has given me so much, not only teaching, but hope.

"During my studies I lost my mother to cancer. Karen kept me going and went out of her way without asking to support me.

"I will always be grateful to her."

Ms Walker has worked at the college for 15 years, teaching on the accounting courses from Level 2 to Level 4.

She effortlessly made the switch from a career in finance, with colleagues describing her as an ‘inspiring, generous and collaborative member of the team’.

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Her students’ achievement rates are regularly 20 per cent above the national average, while the tutor's innovative ideas have also been noted.

These included a successful social action project involving Witney Community Hospital, where students would visit elderly patients.

Many patients described these visits as the 'highlight of their week', which the college said was 'testament to Karen’s generosity of spirit, for both helping her local community and offering young students an opportunity to build their skills and confidence'.

Ms Walker was up against colleagues from the private and public training sector, but triumphed at the awards in Stratford-upon-Avon earlier this month.

Vernon Anderson, AAT President, said: “The AAT Training Provider Awards are a magnificent opportunity to celebrate success.

"Each year, our students, training providers and tutors put in a significant amount of hard work, and this represents the best way in which to formally recognise their achievements.

"We are inspired by our winners and applaud the high level of attainment reached by all those shortlisted.”