Abingdon and Witney College scoops national awards

Abingdon and Witney College has won two prestigious Association of Colleges (AoC) Beacon Awards; one for Transformational Governance and the other for using Peer Coaching to transform teaching and learning.

The awards, sponsored by the Education and Training Foundation and the Learning Consortium were announced by Lord Willis of Knaresborough, President of the AoC Charitable Trust, at the AoC Annual Conference in Birmingham on Wednesday 19 November. The AoC Beacon Awards, launched in 1994, celebrate best practice among UK further education colleges.

Teresa Kelly, Principal of Abingdon and Witney College said: “We are delighted that all the hard work of our students, staff and governors has been recognised in this way. Earlier this year Ofsted confirmed that our leadership and management was Outstanding and the success of our students placed us in the top 10% of all Colleges in the country. Now we have received two prestigious national Beacon awards for innovation and best practice. Abingdon and Witney College is truly leading the way for Further Education in this country.”

For the Governance award, the Board of Governors devised and implemented a three-step development programme for the whole governing body which has resulted in the college now being in the top 10% for success rates.

It has also resulted in transformational change to board membership, governance processes and culture and steered the college as a whole to become more responsive to local employers.

David Russell, CEO of the Education and Training Foundation, said: “The Education and Training Foundation is delighted to be sponsoring this year’s award for Transformational Leadership by Governing Bodies. We know that strong and inspired leadership is the key to institutional success and better outcomes for learners. If we are to rise to future challenges, and prosper as a sector, we need to understand what excellence looks like, and aspire to ensure that all leadership and governance is the very best it can be.”

For the Peer Coaching award, the college has set up a Teaching Skills Academy (TSA) with the aim of improving teaching, learning and assessment and helping teachers to move to an outstanding grade through peer coaching.

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The TSA is staffed by six coaches who are outstanding teachers and still have teaching commitments. They provide bespoke training sessions and respond to teacher requests, providing in-class, one-to-one support across a wide range of teaching, learning and assessment skills.

Outcomes for students have improved by up to 8%.

Chair of the AoC Beacon Awards, Dame Pat Bacon, said: “Abingdon and Witney College represents two of fourteen outstanding initiatives which have been granted a prestigious AoC Beacon Award this year. Each year, the calibre of the winning applications increases and I am always impressed by the innovative and creative ways in which colleges continue to help students reach their potential.

“As the sector as a whole continues to support the economic recovery of this country, these Beacon Award winners are helping to shine a spotlight on the outstanding means by which colleges are embracing new technologies and partnerships to achieve this. These colleges are showing the way for others to emulate their excellent work.”

Abingdon and Witney College will host a local celebration event in the New Year and will be presented with its Awards by Nick Boles MP, Minister of State for Skills and Equalities at a national presentation ceremony due to be held at Westminster on 4 February 2015.