AoC conference 2018: What you need to know

Find out everything you need to know about the Association of Colleges Annual Conference 2018

George Ryan

The AoC conference takes place at the ICC in Birmingham

More than 1,000 people from across the college and further education sector are expected to attend the Association of College’s (AoC) Annual Conference this year.

This year’s conference, for which Tes is the official media partner, features 90 exhibitors and more than 60 speakers across the two-day event. There will also be 50 smaller workshops where “innovative and best practice” will be demonstrated.

When is it?

The conference takes place on Tuesday 20 and Wednesday 21 November.

Where is it?

This year’s conference takes place at the ICC (International Convention Centre) in Birmingham. The nearest train station is Birmingham New Street.

Who is speaking?

Skills minister Anne Milton
The skills minister Anne Milton is set to speak while her boss education secretary Damian Hinds stays away


Figures from across the further education and skills are speaking at the two-day conference. They include skills minister Anne Milton and Ofsted’s chief inspector Amanda Spielman.

Other speakers include West Midlands metro mayor Andy Street, NUS students’ union president Shakira Martin, shadow education secretary Angela Rayner and OECD director of education and skills Andreas Schleicher.

Channel Four News anchor Krishnan Guru Murthy will also speak, and the conference will be hosted by BBC Breakfast business broadcaster Steph McGovern. The full list of speakers is available on the official conference website.

What else is happening?

On Monday night, before the conference starts, a film co-produced by ITN and AoC will be premiered. The documentary, called Learning for Life, showcases the transformative effects of colleges and their importance to the economy.

The winners of the Student of the Year competition will also be announced on Monday evening, with BBC journalist and recent AoC Gold Award winner Sima Kotecha presenting prizes to the winners.

At the gala dinner on Tuesday night, the shortlist of finalists for the Tes FE awards and the AoC Beacon Awards will be announced. The winners of both awards will be presented together for the first time at an awards ceremony at the Grosvenor House Hotel in Central London in March. The Tes FE Awards, sponsored by the Education and Training Foundation, are the biggest night of the year in the FE calendar.

On the Wednesday, a break-out session is taking place from 2.45-3.55pm, featuring Tes FE editor Stephen Exley. The session is titled "Celebrating success: The Tes FE Awards and AoC Beacon Awards". The other panellists for this session are: AoC Charitable Trust director Ian Munro, Tes columnist and awards judge Sarah Simons, Education and Training Foundation chief executive David Russell, and Fareham College principal Nigel Duncan. The session will explore how the two sets of awards work, and will include tips on how to impress the judges.

What the chief executive says

David Hughes, AoC chief executive said the conference was an event not to be missed. He added: “Given the recent #LoveOurColleges activity, and frustration at the budget, this is sure to be a lively and timely conference.

“It will also be great to hear from skills minister Anne Milton, about the government’s approach to colleges. Following a disappointing Budget for colleges we will want to discuss how we can influence next year’s spending review.”

Useful links

  • How to find the ICC venue.
  • Download a copy of the programme here [PDF]

Register to continue reading for free

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you

George Ryan

George Ryan

George Ryan is a further education reporter for tes

Find me on Twitter @GeorgeMRyan

Latest stories