AoC Beacon Award


Staff and students celebrate winning a coveted “Further Education Oscar” for its impressive inclusion programme.

Staff and students are celebrating as Canterbury College has won a prestigious Association of Colleges (AoC) Beacon Award for Student Support. The award, sponsored by NAMSS, the National Association for Managers of Student Services, was announced by Lord Willis of Knaresborough, President of the AoC Charitable Trust, at the AoC Annual Conference in Birmingham on Wednesday 19 November.

The college has improved the support it gives to four student groups with hidden diversity needs: those with mental health difficulties, Looked After Children and care leavers, student parents and students who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and questioning (LGBTQ).

Senior college staff and the Student Union work together to ensure the whole college is involved in the support which aims to remove barriers to the students so they can get the most out of being at the college and reach their potential.

The college provides counsellors who are available throughout the year and it has set up strong partnerships with the local LGBTQ group, the head of the Community Safety Unit, the Community Health Trust, local police and the NHS which all offer support.  The college has also won an award from the National Union of Students for its Students Union.

Polly Harrow, Chair at NAMSS, said:

“This is the second year of awarding the NAMSS AoC Beacon Award recognising excellence and innovation in the delivery of student support. We were delighted to receive so many excellent applications this year and it was again a clear indication of the outstanding work being carried out across the FE sector to support student success.

“Choosing one winner is always challenging but we do feel that this year’s winner has shown innovation and excellence in their approach with real impact on the student experience.”

Alison Clarke, Principal and Executive Director at Canterbury College said: “I am delighted that the hard work of our student support team has been recognised at these prestigious national awards. At Canterbury College we always strive to create an exciting environment where people from all ages, backgrounds and abilities can meet, learn and grow. I would like to congratulate all of the staff and students at the College, as well as the outside agencies that work with it to provide specialist services and support.” 

Lut Stewart, Director of Student Support Services at Canterbury College said: “The award confirms our position as one of England’s leading Further Education colleges regarding the range of support services offered to our students.  We ensure that all students are able to succeed regardless of whether they are looked after, require counselling, are young parents or are LGBT*Q. I am immensely pleased that our staff received this accolade as their experience, specialist skills and commitment is highly regarded by our students.”

Chair of the AoC Beacon Awards, Dame Pat Bacon, said:

“Canterbury College represents one of fourteen outstanding initiatives which have been granted a prestigious AoC Beacon Award this year.

“Each year, the calibre of the winning applications increases and I am always impressed by the innovative and creative ways in which colleges continue to help students reach their potential.

“As the sector as a whole continues to support the economic recovery of this country, these Beacon Award winners are helping to shine a spotlight on the outstanding means by which colleges are embracing new technologies and partnerships to achieve this. These colleges are showing the way for others to emulate their excellent work.”

Roger Marriott, AoC Beacon Awards Chief Assessor, said:

“I have the privilege of reading all shortlisted applications and assessors’ reports for these awards and there are some truly inspirational initiatives which are enabling colleges to better support students, businesses and their communities.

“The quality of the shortlisted applications has been outstanding and all are to be congratulated.  It was tough deciding the winners for the awards and Canterbury College can be rightly proud of its achievement.”

Canterbury College will host a local celebration event in the New Year and will be presented with its Award by Nick Boles MP, Minister of State for Skills and Equalities at a national presentation ceremony due to be held at Westminster on 4 February 2015.

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