10 colleges honoured at 2023/24 AoC Beacon Awards

Winners of this year's Beacon Awards have been announced as part of Colleges Week

Winners of this year's Beacon Awards have been announced as part of Colleges Week

27 Feb 2024, 16:00

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Ten of the “best and most innovative” FE colleges have been announced as winners of this year’s prestigious Association of Colleges Beacon Awards.

Stand-out initiatives supporting asylum seekers and refugees, embedding green skills and improving student mental health and well-being were honoured today at a ceremony in Westminster.

The awards come on day two of this year’s Colleges Week.

David Hughes, chief executive of the Association of Colleges, said this year’s winners were “truly inspiring”.

“Shining through the many challenges of the pandemic and cost of living crisis, colleges and their staff show through these awards just how hard they work, skilfully and expertly to support learners achieve their ambitions and realise their talents. It is truly inspiring that regardless of the challenges colleges remain innovative and dedicated to providing the best support to students and employers and their communities,” he said.

AoC’s Beacon Awards recognise excellence across a range of categories including student support, use of technology, good governance and widening participation. 

Taking home the prize for excellence in careers and enterprise this year was Middlesbrough College. Judges said the college’s use of employer advisory panels means students had an up-to-date and “impactful” curriculum. 

Bridgwater and Taunton College, New College Durham, Barnsley College, Hull College and Gower College Swansea were also among this year’s winners. 

This year’s education for sustainable development prize went to Suffolk New College for the “transformation” of their enrichment programmes, curriculum development and capital investment which have delivered a “sustainability mindset” on campus. 

Robert Halfon, minister for skills, joined in praising this year’s award winners: “Congratulations to all the winners of this year’s Beacon Awards. As we witness the expansion of high-quality technical training offers, including apprenticeships, T Levels and Skills Bootcamps, colleges are essential in delivering exceptional teaching and the best outcomes for their students.

“Our country’s colleges are truly some of the best, with around 93% rated good or outstanding by Ofsted last year. The colleges recognised in these awards are leading the way, demonstrating how innovative skills programmes are providing more and more people with a chance to climb the ladder of opportunity towards high-skilled jobs fit for the future.”

Full list of winners 

The AoC Award for Excellence in Governance: East Kent Colleges Group (EKC Group) and Barnsley College

The AoC Award for Widening Participation: Gower College Swansea

The Careers & Enterprise Company Award for Excellence in Careers and Enterprise: Middlesbrough College 

The City & Guilds Award for College Engagement with Employers: New College Durham

The Edge Award for Excellence in Real World Learning: Education Partnership North East 

The Inenco Award for Education for Sustainable Development: Suffolk New College

The Jisc Award for Effective Use of Digital Technology in Further Education: Hull College

The NOCN Group Award for Mental Health and Wellbeing: Barnsley College 

The RCU Award for Support for Students: Bridgwater & Taunton College

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