AoC Beacon Awards Programme 2019/20

***For 2020/21 awards information for Beacon Awards and Student of the Year Awards please visit our new awards website***

AoC Awards Update (1 June)

The Beacon Awards, now in their 25th year, highlight the breadth and quality of education in colleges throughout the UK, helping to increase the understanding of colleges’ contribution to their communities’ economic and social development.

Due to there being no physical awards ceremony this year due to coronavirus we will be delivering a virtual award ceremony on Thursday 4 June starting at 9am. To join in the celebrations and find out who our winners are, please follow the AoC twitter feed on the day and visit the new College awards wesbite.

Beacon Awards Chief Assessor Appointment

We are delighted that Kate Webb, previously Principal at the Windsor Forest Colleges Group, has joined us as our new AoC Beacon Awards Chief Assessor in April. We would like to thank Michael Davis who steps down after three years in the role and for his significant contribution to the awards.

Beacon Awards 2019/20 Winners announcements

We had planned to announce this year’s winners at a celebratory event on the 21 April in London but unfortunately had to postpone due to Covid 19.

We have consulted with Trustees, Sponsors and colleges on a range of options and agreed to host a virtual Awards webinar in early June. It is important that we can celebrate this year’s winners and commended colleges as soon as possible and we are sure some positive news will go down well with staff and enable us to use these examples in our work with Minsters and MP’s, officials and stakeholders in promoting the great work for the FE College sector.

We will provide more details in due course and are currently working with our eight Award Sponsors and partners to set this up.

Beacon Awards 2020/21

As you would expect we paused and reflected on whether colleges would have the appetite for awards this year given the demand on college staff due to Covid 19 and the disruption and challenges colleges are facing.

However, talking with many college Principals and staff and staff it is clear that colleges do want to share the great work going on, especiallly rising to the challenges in recent weeks and receive recognition for their college, staff and students.

 Therefore we are pleased to confirm that we will launch this year’s programme in early July. We are very sensitive to the pressure on colleges and availability of staff at this challenging time and therefore, we have a task and finish group working on the application and assessment process to streamline and make it more accessible. We will also re-design elements to aid easier navigation supported with links to tips and what assessors are looking for.

The task group includes Beacon assessors who are also senior managers/principals in colleges, sponsor assessors and of course Kate our new Chief Assessor.

The group are adapting the individual award criterias to help college identify what they have achieved. The application will offer a step by step application and importantly ask applicants to tell us how they have been innovative faced with Covid 19 challenges and encourage them to relate these if appropriate to their award application.  

We will offer more flexibility on how long an activity/course/project needs to have been in place given the incredible achievement by colleges this year against such a challenging period. Along with webinars on how to apply, tips on making an effective submission, dos and dont's and a Q&A with our lead assessors.

Our current Award sponsors have been very supportive through this period and as you can guess many are facing their own challenges, sponsors do want to reiterate their investment and support to the college sector and be part of the 20/21 programme. We are delighted that we have new sponsors also wanting to be part of this year’s programme.

We are confident that we will have an exciting set of awards including at least three new categories. Together this will be an attractive proposition and encourage colleges to tell us about their great examples and help us to showcase the fantastic work of colleges, staff and students.

We will also launch the nomination process for the 2020/21 Student of the Year Awards and will aim to announce the finalists in the autumn and winners at the AoC Conference in November.

We will update on the AoC Awards again in May with more details but encourage colleges to start thinking about the AoC Awards and be ready for the launch in July; if you have any questions please email us at

New Chief Assessor appointed to Beacon Awards 

Current CEO and principal of the Windsor Forest Colleges Group, Kate Webb has been appointed as AoC’s Beacon Awards Chief Assessor. It is an exciting time to be joining the Awards team as we embark on the implementation and new vision for the awards, including new categories. The full news story is here.

A full list of all commended colleges 2019 and case studies is available here.

AoC Beacon Awards Programme 2019/20 - Individual Awards and Sponsors

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Contact us

Any questions please contact the AoC Charitable Trust Awards team