The AoC Beacon Award winners, which recognise innovative and outstanding activities in colleges across the UK, have been announced.

The ceremony took place this evening on the opening day of the AoC annual conference at the ICC in Birmingham.

Among the winners was Weston College, which achieved a double success, winning awards for improving functional, vocational and transferable skills amongst the disadvantaged and for those with disabilities.

The college was praised for initiatives that helped to reach the most disenfranchised learners.

Its ‘Creating brighter futures’ initiative reflects “the best in adult further education within the community” and “inspires the most educationally disadvantaged to engage, improve their skills, discover and fulfil their potential and increase their life and work opportunities on release or repatriation”.

The judges were impressed by its commitment to “a safe learning environment where all learners are valued and thrive regardless of background and level to meet individual needs, which if not addressed can impose a lifelong sentence of reoffending, underachievement, frustration and continued disadvantage for themselves and their families”.

“The benefits extend beyond individuals and families to the wider community and society in general as providing the aspiration and aptitude to seek and gain legitimate employment.”



Portsmouth College took home the award for effective use of technology.

The college’s ‘Curious and creative’ project was based on providing all full-time 16- to 18-year-old students with an Apple iPad Mini, “creating a sophisticated yet personalised learning experience”.

“This was combined with a radical change to the college timetable, redesigned learning spaces, high density wi-fi across the campus and the ability to mirror iPads to classroom projectors and large-format display screens,” an AoC spokesperson said.

City of Wolverhampton College was recognised for its careers education and guidance.

The college’s ‘Hub’ project “focused on developing effective careers information, advice and guidance for all young people in the city”.

What impressed the judges was the way it is “directly transferable to other colleges and providers, and the lessons learnt from implementing the project are valuable to other providers working with this range of young people in the further education and skills sector”.

Abingdon and Witney College was also handed the award for practical teaching and learning.

The college was recognised for preparing students to become “effective employees of the future”.

The judges were “particularly impressed by the college’s commitment to developing a moral and social code with the aim of improving employability prospects and leading to an ethos of respect and responsibility”.


The full list of winners:

Edge Award for Practical Teaching and Learning – Abingdon and Witney College

Award for Students with Learning Difficulties and/or Disabilities – Weston College

JISC Award for the Effective Use of Technology in Further Education – Portsmouth College

Award for the Promotion and Delivery of Successful Apprenticeships – Gloucestershire College

City & Guilds Award for Staff Development – Grimsby Institute of Further and Higher Education

RSM Award for Leadership and Governance – Bridgend College

AoC Award for Mental Health and Wellbeing – Truro and Penwith College

AoC Award for College Engagement with Employers – Sunderland College

Skills and Education Group Award for Transition into Post-16 Education and Training – Cardiff and Vale College

The Careers and Enterprise Company Careers Education and Guidance Award – City of Wolverhampton College

Gateway Qualifications Widening Participation in Learning Award – Weston College

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