West Suffolk College has won the prestigious Association of Colleges Beacon Careers and Enterprise Company Award for Innovation in Careers and Enterprise.
The Association of Colleges’ Beacon Awards celebrate the best and most innovative practice among UK further education colleges each year. They reward colleges that go above and beyond in providing high-quality technical and professional education. Award winners are also considered to be offering something exceptional to students and the wider community.
This particular award supported by the Careers and Enterprise Company seeks to recognise, celebrate and promote examples of outstanding and innovative careers leadership and practice.
Led by Head of Admissions Angela Wright, the West Suffolk College careers team worked on an initiative badged ‘Embedding a sustainable careers programme in the new normal.’ Angela said: “It is so important to recognise that although this pandemic has presented significant challenges to our students, it has also been a catalyst for embracing new ways of utilizing technology to provide a sustainable careers programme for all.”
Angela continued: “We are so humbled to have won this award and I am exceptionally proud of the whole team who continue to work tirelessly to ensure our students are supported and the best possible opportunities are presented to them.”
With students only being able to access the Careers Team remotely, and Year 11 pupils unable to visit the college in person; the dedicated team looked at different ways of engaging and supporting students and as such has led to the development of a more prolific and proactive online service. The online Job Shop was created and has provided an opportunity for students to still build those essential connections with the workforce, receive careers guidance from career development professionals and provide the tools required to aim high and achieve positive progression.
In addition, the team also eased the transition from school to College to ensure no one has been disadvantaged by remote working. These initiatives include but are not limited to: Online and independent resources for all post-16 options, an overview of the SEND pathways available after year 11, pre-recorded presentations detailing the colleges offering and a range of year 11 toolkits including videos from employers.
Dr Nikos Savvas, Chief Executive of Suffolk Academies Trust and West Suffolk College said: “We are genuinely delighted to have won this award. We firmly believe that we should support our students to progress, not just achieve. Securing outstanding grades is one thing, but if a student doesn’t have the vision, understanding and connections to take advantage of those grades, then a real opportunity is lost for both the young person and the region as a whole.
“This award is testament to how our Careers Team have kept that focus on progression during the pandemic. They have tackled the challenges and embraced the opportunities that moving to predominantly online support have provided. What is more, as our regional economy shifts as we respond to Brexit and Covid, they will be at the forefront of ensuring our students are prepared for the world that awaits them.”
Mark White, Interim Chair of AoC’s Charitable Trust said: “The AoC Beacon Awards showcase exactly why colleges are so important to every community and why people value them. This award recognises international collaboration and exchange, importantly helping to shape an international mind-set in learners. The work of the winning college and their partnerships overseas show how vital colleges are to maintaining our reputation and connections.”