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OLDHAM College is celebrating after winning the prestigious Beacon Award 2023 for its ‘Support for Students’.
The Association of Colleges’ (AoC) Beacon Awards recognises the best and most innovative practice among UK colleges each year – and Oldham College representatives were thrilled to learn they have won this coveted accolade at a ceremony in London.
The ‘Support for Students’ award seeks to highlight examples of practical teaching and learning that equips people with the skills that today’s global and digital economy demands through a broad and balanced curriculum, high quality training, engaging real word learning and rich relationships between education and employers.
Oldham College’s winning entry shows how it has integrated contextualised safeguarding into daily learner support. This includes a new personal development programme delivered by specialist staff that has already benefitted around 2,500 students, plus two flagship projects – ‘Safer Streets’ and ‘Street Doctors’ – delivered with partners.
Judges praised Oldham College for viewing learners’ challenges through a “cultural lens” of safeguarding with dedicated staff and teams who are proactive in listening to and supporting young people, encouraging them to understand risks – and improving their lives, employability and progression to adulthood through excellent collaboration with partners.
Alun Francis, Oldham College Principal and Chief Executive, said: “We are incredibly proud to have won this prized Beacon Award.”
“It’s a hugely significant achievement for us to gain national recognition for the innovative approach that has been implemented here. This is designed to deliver the very best for all our learners – not just in terms of excellent daily support keeping them safe and aware of safeguarding issues – but also by learning through pioneering projects with our partners.
“As well as endowing our learners with key skills to make them work ready, we’re also determined to develop and encourage the social, practical and emotional knowledge that will help them to look after themselves, and others, and to make really positive contributions to the wider community as adults.
“We’re incredibly proud that our approaches can now be shared across the FE sector, and I want to thank all those staff, partner organisations and learners who have contributed to this remarkable success.”
Mark White, Interim Chair of AoC’s Charitable Trust said: “The AoC Beacon Awards showcase exactly why colleges are so important to every community and why people value them. This award recognises examples of excellent practical teaching and learning. The work of the winning college shows how important colleges are in providing students with the necessary skills for the real world.”
Oldham College’s award submission included the ‘Safer Streets’ initiative with Greater Manchester Police and Transport for Greater Manchester. Hundreds of students applied their learning to create to an effective campaign challenging street harassment of women and girls across the public transport network. This ranged, for example, from designing hard-hitting artwork, to writing and performing a new play, and hosting a major festival on campus.
Oldham College also joined the ‘Street Doctors’ scheme with a national charity and North West Ambulance Service. This saw learners completing a programme enabling young people to learn, share and teach emergency lifesaving skills. They also learned about healthcare volunteering, career paths, legal rights and police responses, and delivered emergency first aid training sessions to their peers.
Learners of all ages can find out more about Oldham College’s offer – including full and part-time courses, apprenticeships, T Levels and Higher Education with University Campus Oldham – at Open Day on Saturday, March 25 (10am-1pm). To pre-register, visit www.oldham.ac.uk/