Gateway Qualifications Award for Widening Participation in learning

The Award for Widening Participation is open to all colleges of further education and sixth form colleges which have made specific provision to attract those from under-represented groups to engage in learning.  The award will be given in recognition of effective and imaginative approaches to attract and motivate students which results in successful acquisition of skills, knowledge or qualifications with the intention of further learning or employment. 

Of particular interest are innovative strategies to open up opportunities for vocational progression by enabling individuals to overcome social or personal barriers and enables progression to sustained further learning or employment.

Successful applicants will describe provision that most effectively meets the general AoC Beacon criteria and the criteria below.

Assessors will look for evidence that provision:

  • engages individuals in learning, particularly where they have suffered disadvantage or are an under represented group in that vocation
  • works with community partners or employers to support the provision of imaginative opportunities for vocational learning and effectively raises aspirations
  • provides comprehensive support to meet individual students’ needs particularly for those who may be experiencing significant barriers to completing their programmes or are in danger of disengaging from the learning process
  • adopts innovative teaching approaches to meeting the learning and social/personal needs of students and uses appropriate and innovative learning materials, technologies and approaches which motivate students
  • works cooperatively with employers to support the development of employability skills
  • enables a high proportion of the students to gain qualifications and progress to further study or employment.




With a heritage in the Open College Network movement, we bring with us over 20 years of expertise in credit-based learning and quality improvement, currently offering more than 600 qualifications on the Ofqual Register of Regulated Qualifications as well as the Access to HE Diploma.


We work alongside our customers, providing each one with a dedicated account team, recognising that like the learners we jointly cherish, each has a unique requirement which needs a supportive, responsive and informed service. 


By putting the learner at the heart of everything we do we reinforce the ethical status that underpins our work.  Together our founding values and operating practices offer value, confidence and peace of mind.


Big enough to champion smart use of technology and original thinking in the development of qualifications, we are reassuringly hands-on and flexible enough to respond to singular needs.  Being closer to providers makes us more attuned to individual requirements. 


We are advocates for the learners and committed to providing a supportive service that marries input from providers, employers and sector experts to drive standards up. This is why we are proud to sponsor the AoC Beacon Award for Widening Participation in Learning; increasing vocational progression and employability.