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Beacon Award Commended College Synopses 2022/23 - The Edge Award for Excellence in Real World Learning


South Eastern Regional College

In January 2018, SERC created an Enterprise Department and the Entrepreneurs Club, dedicated to supporting students in developing enterprising and entrepreneurial skills. • Since 2018, 115 viable student companies have been generated due to the Team's facilitation and mentoring. • The role of the Entrepreneurs Club is to provide students with enterprise skills that help them be more enterprising, put these skills into practice, and identify and support more entrepreneurs. • Research from Stanmillis University comprised evidence from 4000 SERC students and 46% of the SERC staff population and demonstrated the benefit of the Entrepreneurial Club experience across all transversal skills categories, with improvement recorded in 55 out of the 56 component areas, with improvement predominantly significant. Staff also reported increased enjoyment of teaching and improved efficacy of student learning. • The research also identified that 19% of SERC students were interested in setting up their own companies, which was over three times the Northern Ireland average of 5% of the population setting up businesses. Through the work of the Entrepreneurs Club, SERC produces more entrepreneurs than the region's average, which amplifies the importance of this work. The club develops work-ready and enterprising college leavers, many of whom leave college owning thriving businesses.

EKC Group

Ensuring our learners get real world examples is crucial to their positive progression into employment. Working collaboratively with stakeholders and local employers, our college came up with the idea of turning a mothballed building into a four star training hotel that would inspire the hospitality professionals of the future. The hotel works in partnership with a range of local stakeholders, ensuring that learners receive the training that employers need, helping to meet local skills gaps and ensure our college's students have the best opportunities when they achieve their qualification.

Lincoln College

The Air & Space Institute (ASI) is a potential game-changer in further education. The first of its kind in the UK, ASI delivers training courses that have been co-designed with industry experts and directly mapped to pilot, aircraft engineer and ground-crew careers. ASI aims to democratise access to careers in the aviation sector, widening participation in training to working class and BAME communities and drawing inward investment to Newark. Offering what we believe is the most exciting education programme in the country, local students are already regularly taking to the skies for flight training in the ASI plane, flying out of Tollerton Airport and using our state-of -the-art flight simulator. Our ASI engineering students are working on a real aircraft components and fuselage sections recently purchased for the Newark College interim facility workshop and all students are benefitting from regular industry guest speakers and trips to global giants in the sector. The development team at Lincoln College Group is working with university partners at Nottingham Trent University to develop higher technical qualifications and degree apprenticeship pathways that will attract a new student population to the town that will significantly boost the local economy. And thanks to a £10m Towns Fund award, work will start next Spring on a new-build ASI, incorporating an Airbus aircraft for students to work on.

Solihull College & University Centre

This project celebrates the opportunity that is available to a wide demographic of learners within the creative sector. As a sector with a reputation for being difficult to enter and navigate, the College is delighted to have enjoyed success in delivering a series of Bootcamps across different streams of specialism that have resulted in work placements, traineeships and paid opportunities. Working in close collaboration with leaders in the field including a Trade Body, employers and innovators, the College has delivered opportunities for learners that have touched the lives of millions, including representation at the Commonwealth Games. The delivery team have worked with relentless ambition to bring this project to life and have benefited from exceptional CPD opportunities from organisations that include BBC Drama and Tiger Productions. Via the medium of the College’s own production, it is now looking forward to sharing this exemplary practice with the wider sector.

Cambridge Regional College

The Green Team supports adults with profound and complex learning difficulties to gain valuable work and personal skills, continuing their learning, working with partners on a range of local projects, enhancing green spaces for community use. Each project is planned to support students to develop Preparing for Adulthood skills, other skills identified on EHCPs and in line with individual need, and to develop greater independence and nurture their talents and interests. Students demonstrate real gains in their confidence and skills and gain valuable experience of working in the real world. Working outside is a key part of this project and the experience of working in green spaces, carrying out tasks such as ground clearance, habitat management, pruning and tree planting, provides a unique opportunity for students to improve their physical and mental health and wellbeing. Trusts and charities tell us they benefit from the work students carry out, and from working alongside students who traditionally might struggle to gain work experience. This initiative brings together community, college and individual students who take part in fulfilling, meaningful and rewarding work that leads to real gains for their confidence and skills, including progression to further study and related employment.

Coleg Gwent

CCC is an initiative that enables learners to prepare for careers in cyber security by providing them with fundamental skills, knowledge, and understanding of the industry to progress to university, employment, or an apprenticeship. Learners have weekly access to sessions with Thales, Fujitsu, and Admiral; major employers who are working with Further Education to close the skills gap. The initiative aims to develop the cyber talent pipeline through a collaboration of four FE colleges and leading industry specialists. Through professional mentoring, learners in Wales interested in a cyber-career, flourish on this evolving pathway that combines industry’s insight with robust, ‘best of kind’ education through this agile, professional partnership. The incorporation of employers in the design and delivery of the curriculum has been crucial in allowing learners to apply their course knowledge to real life employment scenarios. The learners have access to more employer led experiences and as such are more equipped to successfully move into the sector as they develop additional transferable skills. Partnership working ensures we are meeting the workforce needs of the industry through harnessing new talent and signposting fresh thinking young people, with different perspectives, who will bring innovation and enthusiasm to the cyber and digital sectors.

City of Glasgow College

To support and educate students on the importance of climate change and environmental responsibility as they enter the world of work, the College established a media partnership with Newsquest (Scotland) and the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPs).The Media Curriculum Team created a news hub for COP 26 with Newsquest (Scotland) to supply content for The Herald, The Glasgow Times, The National and their digital platforms. Students gained real time work experience with editors and journalists and also produced television programmes addressing climate change issues. Students interviewed opinion leaders and influencers from across the world. 600 students attended and covered COP 26 events and activities engaging with over 100 organisations. The UNOPs student COP26 press conference was hosted on campus with the UN Undersecretary General The media work experience partnerships are continuing to futureproof the curriculum and employment market with the importance of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and actions to achieve the net zero targets in 2050. Media students are currently preparing for COP 27 to continue to challenge climate change issues.