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Activate Learning shortlisted for prestigious education industry awards

In the running for the Tes FE Teacher of the Year Award and the AoC Beacon Award for Support for Students

22 November 2018

Activate Learning, the leading education group behind Banbury and Bicester, City of Oxford and Reading Colleges, is a finalist in two key categories at the 2019 Tes FE and the Association of Colleges' Beacon Awards.

For the AoC’s Beacon Award for Support for Students, judges will soon visit the Reading campus and assess our innovative LLDD (Learners with Learning Difficulties or Disabilities) provision for the final stage of an extensive evaluation process.

Launched in 2013, our LLDD partnership programme has supported over 1500 high-needs learners to improve their life chances by taking up real-life work placements. Uniquely, every high needs learner can gain work experience on campus at a college-run learning company; at an off–site work placement with a partner organization including up-and-coming SMEs and leading national players; on an external supported internship programme working towards a paid position; or a combination of these options.

Our award entry highlighted how we work with partners to not only deliver meaningful learning programmes, but also encourage them to share our vision and values and actively involve them as curricula co-creators. This is guided by our award winning Learning Philosophy - how the brain, motivation and emotions work together to impact learning.

Additionally, the submission showed how we focus on developing non-academic, but equally important, attributes (professional, aware, resilient, confident and enterprising) so our learners are trained in the skills that employers want and need.

Dr Alice Eardley, an English teacher in the Technology faculty, has been shortlisted in the high-profile Teacher of the Year category at the Tes (Times Education Supplement) FE (Further Education) Awards.

Alice supports learners to gain a GCSE English qualification while studying pathways in construction, engineering, motor vehicle and IT. It is a requirement that students who have not yet secured a 4 (old grade C) at GCSE continue to take the subject alongside their vocational courses. 

Alice’s idea to use virtual reality and gaming systems to build an online vocabulary development programme was recognised with £15,000 Let Teachers SHINE grant this summer, and she recently returned from a trip to South Africa where a British Council-supported pen-pal scheme is raising English attainment for both students there and at Activate Learning’s Technology campus in Blackbird Leys, Oxford.

Alice was “shocked and delighted” to hear of her nomination. When asked where she gets hers ideas from, Alice said: “I recently read that innovative people don’t necessarily think of new ideas, but instead join things up in different ways. That’s what we do at Activate Learning – we think of different ways to teach and develop people’s motivation to learn.”

Alice continues: “I work with employers on special projects where English skills are embedded into challenges like finding solutions for the housing crisis or predicting the future of the car industry. Through reading high-level technical documents and presenting project findings to industry leaders, our learners enhance the core English skills in their GCSE curriculum, as well as develop the attributes they need to succeed in the workplace”

The winners of this and the other Tes FE and the Association of Colleges' Beacon Awards categories will be announced at an awards event in London in March.