Authors: Dana Dabbous & Jane Samuels
The AoC Beacon Awards celebrate excellence in the further Education sector by hosting annual awards for colleges, their staff and students. They are now in their 26th year and remain the foremost award for recognising excellent and impact in the FE sector.
The Awards are held in extremely high regard by college staff and students. To win a Beacon Award is seen as a great achievement for the college, bringing recognition of the work of its staff and students and an acknowledgement of the college’s place in its community and within the FE sector.
The fundamental aim of the awards is to identify those examples that are transferable and sustainable and can lead to long term positive benefits to students. While the short term benefits are known the current research aimed at identifying and understanding the long term benefits of the Beacon Awards in Excellence in Real World Learning.
More specifically three questions were posed in this research:
- How have the winning initiatives been developed since winning the Award?
- How has the Award impacted the college and beyond?
- What are some of the lessons learned from colleges who have received an Edge Beacon Award?
This piece of research draws on interview data and document analysis from six out of 14 FE colleges that were approached, the first college receiving the Award in 2010/2011.
The key findings suggest that winning an Edge sponsored Beacon Award has led to the following four impacts on the six colleges in this study:
- Raised the profile of the college across the FE sector and their local community
- Developed a sense of pride in the achievements of college staff and students
- Improved staff motivation
- Attracted greater industry and employer links
There are key lessons colleges can learn; to keep the initiative running at a high standard, continuous development is needed.