South Devon College scoops two prestigious National Awards

Staff and students at South Devon College celebrate winning two coveted “Further Education Oscars”, for leading the way in both sport and technology.

Staff and students were celebrating today at the news that South Devon College has been awarded two prestigious Association of Colleges (AoC) Beacon Awards for Sport in the Curriculum and for the Effective Use of Technology. The college was announced as winner of the awards, sponsored by 1st4sport Qualifications and sports coach UK and the Learning and Skills Improvement Service, respectively, by Matthew Hancock, Under-Secretary of State for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning, at the AoC Annual Conference in Birmingham on Tuesday 20 November.

South Devon College came top out of over 20 applications for the Sport award for its approach to provide high quality teaching and learning through a distinctive, inclusive and comprehensive sport curriculum that has inspired the local community through sport.

The college has established extensive partnerships with local and national agencies which ensure that students have access to a wide range of activities to enhance their learning experience.

The approach has resulted in students developing high levels of skills, excellent success rates and outstanding progression to higher education or employment.

Tony Dallimore, Education Director at 1st4sport Qualifications and one of the co-sponsors of the Award, said:

“At 1st4sport we believe that further education provides an excellent environment in which to nurture young people’s enthusiasm for sport; whether as participants/athletes, or as part of the workforce. Through sponsoring these awards, and visiting the shortlisted colleges, we have been assured that there is an enthusiasm to ensure that sport is a major and growing component of the further education curriculum.”

Patsy Colvin, Coaching Network Manager at sports coach UK and one of the co-sponsors of the Award, said:

“sports coach UK recognise the value of coaching skills in the sport curriculum and the attainment of relevant industry skills to support employment or progress on to further learning. Through sponsoring the award, and visiting the shortlisted Colleges, we have been assured that there is an enthusiasm to ensure that coaching is a growing component of the FE curriculum.

Our winner has shown an excellent example of how a college can work with partners to enhance learners’ employability skills enabling students to gain the skills necessary to progress into a career in the sports sector. The holistic approach to the curriculum and the direct link to the Olympics and its legacy are key features of the project.”

South Devon College won its second award for the implementation of a college-wide tutorial system, known as LEAP (Learner Engagement And Progression), which has allowed staff to access information about every learner and maintain regular updates of how they’re doing so they can be properly supported throughout their time at college.

The college has also established the use of Independent Learning Officers, or ILOs, who support learners at level 3 in the development of research and study skills. This approach has freed up the subject staff to return to their specialism.

These two approaches combined have lead to a significant improvement in success rates for the students as well as delivering significant cost savings for the College.

Markos Tiris, Head of Teaching and Learning at LSIS and sponsor of the Award, said:

“Technology can be a powerful enabler and, when used creatively and imaginatively, it has the capacity to change lives and transform the way we work and learn.

“LSIS is delighted to be sponsoring this award which celebrates excellence in the use of technology for learners, teachers, and leaders, and recognises those that have turned the potential for technology to improve provision into a reality.”

South Devon College Principal Stephen Criddle said:

“I am extremely proud of the College’s success – of the first five awards announced at the AoC conference, two were for South Devon College.

“These national accolades are a great reflection of the wonderful work and staff at the College.”

Chair of the AoC Beacon Awards, Dame Pat Bacon, said:

“As the new Chair of the National Steering Group it has been a really interesting and exciting experience being involved in the selection of the AoC Beacon Award winners for the first time.

“The quality of the winning submissions is truly outstanding and is evidence of how colleges are identifying the challenges that face us all in these tough economic times and are rising to overcome them through creative and sustainable approaches which are underpinned by a culture of support from the senior management within them.

“I congratulate all of this year’s winning colleges and encourage them to make the most of this opportunity to showcase their exemplary teaching and learning practices over the coming year to stimulate curriculum development across the sector.”

Roger Marriott, AoC Beacon Awards Chief Assessor, said:

“I have been greatly impressed by the innovative and excellent initiatives which have been identified through the assessment process of the AoC Beacon Awards this year.

“Colleges are using imaginative and creative approaches to respond to the needs of their students, communities and local businesses. The dedication and passion shown by these winning colleges to ensure that individuals are given the opportunity to realise their full potential is inspirational and I hope that the wider sector will benefit as a result of celebrating their achievements.”

South Devon College will host a local celebration event in the New Year and will be presented with their Awards by Matthew Hancock MP at a national presentation ceremony due to be held at Westminster on 6 February 2013.

Photo shows: Matthew Hancock, Minister for Skills announcing the winners of the AoC Beacon Awards.