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How we support our members

This is your Association of Colleges (AoC). We were established by members and work each day to support colleges and further your interests.

Our promise to you

As your representative body, we promise to do the following.

  • Influence government, local and national policymakers to create the environment for strong and sustainable colleges at the heart of the economy.
  • Provide high-quality professional support, advice and intelligence to meet the needs of every member.
  • Champion and enhance the reputation of colleges, leaders, staff and students.
  • Be open and transparent working with, and for, all members.
  • Provide all members with a seamless service that is professional, proactive and responsive across the whole organisation.

Find out more below about how we campaign to strengthen the reputation of the sector and how our teams at AoC can support your college.

Campaigning and influencing

Our campaigning and influencing work is at the heart of everything we do. Through our campaigns, strategy groups, consultations, events and direct lobbying, AoC has an excellent track record of influencing policy makers. We are working towards a strong, sustainable sector which is secure for years to come. Our policy priorities are set by members through the AoC board, national policy groups and our close engagement with colleges throughout the year.

We have worked hard to develop and nurture positive relationships with ministers, MPs, key government departments, industries and unions. We have also built strong relationships and fed into the work of think tanks, employer bodies and research organisations to widen our reach and improve the intelligence we can provide you.

We know that we are stronger together and that is why we also work in partnership with other sector bodies and seek common ground to build our influencing work.

Your strategic input

We have a range of national strategy groups covering each of our priority areas which form the basis of our policy development. More than half of all members, including all regions and types of colleges, are represented on these. The groups report regularly into AoC’s board to maintain that vital strategic oversight.

We also run short-term task and finish groups focused on specific policy areas like international work, equality and diversity, and technology. Alongside our groups, members have regular opportunities to engage in policy development through discussions at regional networks, our conferences and events and through formal and informal consultations. Members can also feed into AoC’s campaigns and responses to government.

Strengthening the reputation of the sector

Colleges transform lives and communities. We know that but there is still significant work to do to make sure that everybody else does. That is why over the last few years, we have strengthened our public-facing work, including our media and lobbying activities. As a sector, through our collective action with campaigns such as Colleges Week and Mind the Skills Gap, we really are changing the conversation.

How we can support you and your team

We exist to support you and to help your college thrive. AoC is made up of many different teams and functions, find out more below about the work of our different teams and the benefits and support they can offer you.

    Public Affairs

    We lead AoC’s political influencing in order to strengthen the voice and reputation of colleges. We do this to maximise the role colleges are able to play for people, employers and communities. 

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    We provide a communication channel between colleges and key stakeholders such as the Department for Education (DfE), Ofqual, Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE), Ofsted, awarding organisations, Office for Students (OfS), and the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education.

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    Communications, media, marketing and research

    We ensure members are kept up to date via regular, relevant communications. We also provide thought leadership, media and research opportunities.

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    Good governance is essential to the successful running of colleges. We provide services, support and guidance specifically for clerks, governance professionals, chairs and governors.

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    We work in partnership with Irwin Mitchell to provide an employment advice service for members, facilitate networks and share a range of resources and guidance.

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    Local and regional support

    The area directors and regional teams provide dedicated support to you on a local level. We provide networking opportunities, can contribute to college strategic events and are usually your first point of contact for any queries or concerns.

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    We secure funding from government agencies and other organisations to deliver a range of projects which support the sector. A large majority offer opportunities of funding and involvement for colleges.

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    We work to develop mutually beneficial relationships with partners who share our values to increase the impact of our work, address sector challenges and bring new opportunities to colleges and students.

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    AoC Awards

    The AoC awards are your chance to shout about what you do so well. Every year colleges have the opportunity to apply for our Beacon Awards and Student of the Year Awards.

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    Mental health

    We support mental health work in colleges and shape emerging policies which impact students and the FE workforce.

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    Equality, diversity and inclusion

    We are acutely aware of the inequalities within the FE sector and the need for more urgent, concerted work to ensure an inclusive environment, better diversity and equality of opportunity is embedded throughout all we do.

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    We support DfE to review strategies, provide detailed responses to government, facilitate reference groups, and share guidance and resources.

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    Training and events

    In addition to your core member offer, AoC provides an extended suite of paid-for-services to help your college thrive and to support you. This includes a range of training and events

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    Recruitment support

    As part of our extended suite of paid-for-services, we offer support with recruitment and workforce development.

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    AoC Sport

    AoC Sport leads the development of sport and physical activity in post-16 education.

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