Sixth Form Colleges Association award winners unveiled

Seven outstanding teams from sixth form colleges across the country have been honoured at an inaugural awards ceremony for the sector tonight.

The De Vere Jubilee Conference Centre, in Nottingham, was the setting for the Sixth Form Colleges Association awards dinner and ceremony, where FE Commissioner Richard Atkins was compère for the evening.

It was the first time an awards ceremony has been dedicated just to the hard work and talent of staff at sixth form colleges and was designed to showcase their “exceptional practice”.

Bill Watkin, chief executive of the SFCA, congratulated all of the winners who he said are “examples of outstanding work”.

He added: “Success doesn’t just happen, it is the result of very hard work and great team work.”

While there was no overall winner, awards in seven categories were up for grabs.

Birkenhead Sixth Form College, in Wirral, picked up the top prize for ‘curriculum innovation’.

Mr Watkin said the college’s “innovative” Academic Mentor Programme is a “pioneering development” which led to them winning the award.

“The college works in partnership with local university students who volunteer to tutor its students across a range of subjects,” he explained. “Over 25 mentors now deliver their sessions with a focus on exam technique and revision skills.”

The award for ‘community impact’ went to Scarborough Sixth Form College for its sports leadership programme.

Around 25 to 30 students achieve a ‘Sports Leadership Award’ and 10 to 15 go on to achieve a ‘Higher Sports Leaders Award’ at the college, Mr Watkin said. He added that these learners have a “contribution to, and impact on, the community which is outstanding”.

Next up on the podium was Barton Peveril Sixth Form College who won the award for best ‘student support’.

Mr Watkin said there has been a “real drive” at the college regarding mental health.

Bill Watkin

“The team’s focus is to encourage and promote resilience in each student,” he said.

“Barton Peveril also has student volunteers as mental health mentors. Psychology students who are completing a counselling course as an enrichment alongside their A-levels, peer mentor those who are struggling with the pressures of academic work.”

Wilberforce College, in Hull, then took home the award for best ‘enrichment and employability’.

The college runs a “Seeds of Change” project which was developed from the college’s equality and diversity development group and focusses on “health inequality”.

Various strands of the project aim to involve students and staff from across the college to “identify and challenge” the consequences of choice on health, and to “promote healthy lifestyle choices by developing an entrepreneurial culture”.

Also receiving an award tonight was The College of Richard Collyer, in Horsham, for its ‘independent learning’ bespoke study programme for special educational needs and disability 19 to 25 year olds.

Students on the programme, while at school, formed a company called JubyLee Bakes, using the tag line “special bakes made by special people”.

When they moved to the college, with tutor support, they pitched their idea to Young Start-Up Talent, an entrepreneurial initiative, and in May last year JubyLee Bakes won a competition and a prize fund worth £50,000 of business products and services.

Meanwhile, Brighton Hove & Sussex Sixth Form College won the award for best ‘business development’.

The college’s lettings team has “grown the lettings activities and significantly increased income generation opportunities”, Mr Watkin said.

He pointed out that the money raised through these activities is not ring-fenced and “therefore benefits all areas of the college”.

As a result of the extra funds, the college now accommodates a language school every summer, a slimming club and a children’s film school each weekend and has secured a number of regular conferences and community events.

The seventh and final award went to Oldham Sixth Form College in the ‘governance’ category.

Mr Watkin said there has been an “active strategy” to broaden the diversity of the governing body in terms of age profile, ethnicity and gender at the college.

“This has been successfully achieved and the college is particularly proud of the number of former students and parents of current or former students on the board.”

Main pic: From left: Jonathan Prest, principal of Barton Peveril Sixth Form College, Kathryn Podmore, principal of Birkenhead Sixth Form College, William Baldwin, principal of Brighton Hove & Sussex Sixth Form College, Jayne Clarke, principal of Oldham Sixth Form College, Marcus Towse, principal of Scarborough Sixth Form College, David Cooper, principal of Wilberforce Sixth Form College, and Sally Bromley, principal of The College of Richard Collyer

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