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The shortlisted colleges for our 2017/18 AoC Beacon Award

You may or may not be aware that Abingdon & Witney College were the winners of the 2017/18 AoC Beacon Award for Practical Teaching and Practical Learning, sponsored by Edge.

However, our other shortlisted colleges were strong contenders. We congratulate both Weymouth College and The Academy Grimsby for their amazing work.

Weymouth College

The Weymouth College School of Health, Social Care and Early Years has developed an inclusive and outstanding curriculum design that fully enables all students to achieve and succeed.

Students engage practically and academically despite the high variety of needs within the school and the varied challenges within the local industry and community.  

Practical teaching within the classroom and the workplace

The School offers clear and supportive academic pathways from levels 1-5 incorporating practical teaching within the classroom and workplace.  This has been further enhanced through a recently introduced joint venture with a national care organisation with a strong base in the local community. This partnership – The Agincare Academy – is in line with the LEP and highlights that the increasing need for care is a globally significant issue. The LEP area has the potential to be at the forefront of growth and innovation in this sector.

Students on every level of health, social care and early years undertake work placement as part of their overall course with 98% of students saying that they enjoyed placement (student survey 15/16). This is carried out throughout the year for one day each week for health and social care students and two days per week for early years students. These placements cover over 290 different settings across a geographical area the breadth of the county.

As part of our Level 4/5 Foundation Degree provision, students complete a minimum of 200 hours work-based learning which consists of a range of placements including working with Relate, youth centres, special needs schools as well as placements sourced through the Agincare Academy.  These placements allow students to develop their employability skills whilst requiring them to academically develop their ability to become reflective practitioners through journaling and continuous improvement.

Access to professionals with industry-based roles

Students have an opportunity to access a range of guest speakers from the local community.  Guest speakers have included teachers, nurses, CEOs from care organisations, complementary therapists, first responders and charity workers.  By having the opportunity to speak to relevant employers in the local community students are able to develop and understand the requirements of these industry based professional roles.

The Agincare Academy

The School of Health, Social Care and Early Years has invested in a joint venture with Agincare, a national care company. The Agincare Academy has allowed both the School and Agincare to work closely to build upon our existing work placement opportunities and to further enhance these with students able to undertake administrative and Human Resource experiences within the company. 

Working with the local community

Since September 2013 the National Citizen Service has been integrated into the Level 2 curriculum to allow students to develop their skills and attitudes to encourage and enable greater engagement with the local community. 

Our students recently undertook a project building a sensory garden for young people with learning disabilities and exploring craft opportunities for students with physical disabilities. 

Nurturing and developing employment skills

The College has close links with a wide range of industry settings and employers offering natural progression routes and an opportunity to study at further and higher level through a range of different courses offered at Levels 1-5 in a high performing and inclusive environment.

These projects are an excellent example of how a College can work with partners to enhance learners’ employability skills enabling students to gain those skills necessary to progress into a career in the health, social care and early years sector - as demonstrated through the development and progress of the Agincare Academy. 

The Academy Grimsby

The Academy Grimsby (TAG) opened its doors to its first cohort of pupils in 2014, giving the young people of North East Lincolnshire the opportunity to experience first class vocational education. 

As part of the Grimsby Institute Group, TAG is a direct-entry 14-16 college that offers a broad and inclusive curriculum, with vocational pathways in subjects such as Digital and Media, Health and Social Care and Engineering alongside a suite of GCSEs.

Students follow programmes that prepare them exceptionally well for progression to further education or training and are taught in classes of no more than 18 students, in core subjects and expertise is shared between campuses. 

TAG originally started with 29 students and now has over 360 on register. Students study in a unique and innovative environment, which is based on its own site half a mile from the Grimsby Institute campus, allowing it to run as a school while giving it links with the college and its expertise and ethos. 

Students come from local schools travelling from as far away as Scunthorpe and Mablethorpe. Enrichment classes in Animal Care and Hair and Beauty have been so popular that they will now be new pathways from September 2018.

As TAG’s success grows, the number of students moving onto Level 3 courses at The Institute has increased by 34%, most prominently in Digital and Media.

The Academy’s vision is to deliver outstanding learning and educational achievement enabling successful progression and enhanced life opportunities for young people of the local and adjacent communities. TAG continues to grow and within the next two years should have an intake of 270 students each year.