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It had policy announcements aplenty and quite a few speeches, not to mention tears as some worthy students were praised at a glitzy gala dinner — but the Association of Colleges Annual Conference 2013 is now just a memory.

The three-day event at Birmingham’s International Convention Centre, next door to the beautiful new city library (pictured on the front of this supplement), saw more than 1,000 delegates from colleges up and down the country.

A faithful taste of what they saw and heard follows, beginning with the speech of Skills Minister Matthew Hancock on page 4.

It is accompanied by the speech of association president Michele Sutton, who wanted to give Prime Minister David Cameron a nudge on the issue of careers guidance.

Ofsted’s FE and skills director Matthew Coffey was also at the conference and his speech is on page 5, along with that of Business Secretary Vince Cable, plus an overview from Shadow Skills Minister Liam Byrne of the issues from the panel debate he took part in.

Toni Pearce gave her first association conference speech as president of the National Union of Students and you’ll find that on page 6, next to extended coverage of Shadow Education Secretary Tristram Hunt’s speech in which he made a number of policy announcements from his party’s Skills Taskforce.

The taskforce published its report, Transforming further education: A new mission to deliver excellence in technical education, on the same day as his speech and is featured next to Mr Hunt’s speech.

The glitzy gala dinner was the venue for the handing out of the association’s student of the year awards and also the
prizes for its student photography competition.

These awards are covered on pages 10 and 11, along with the full list of this year’s recipients of the Beacon awards.

Rebecca Cooney, FE Week reporter, got out and about on the last day of conference to speak with delegates and to find out what they thought about proceedings. Her vox-pop is on pages 12 and 13, where there is also coverage of a conference meeting between a delegation of officials from vocational colleges in China.

Pages 14 and 15 are given over to a round-up of the conference announcements and events from association chief executive Martin Doel. He spoke with FE Week editor Nick Linford during a webinar sponsored by Tribal.