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Enter the TES FE Awards now: two new categories revealed

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This is an edited version of an article in the 16 October edition of TES. To read the full article, subscribe to TES 

Outstanding individuals and institutions in the further education sector are invited to enter the TES FE Awards 2016.

Nominations for the awards – which will shine a light on the best colleges, training providers, lecturers and leaders in FE – are being accepted from today.

Fourteen prizes will awarded at a ceremony on 22 April 2016 at the Grosvenor House hotel in Park Lane, London.

Two new categories have been introduced this year, recognising the best apprenticeship programmes and the strongest sixth-form colleges the sector has to offer.

In line with the government’s ambitious target of creating 3 million apprenticeships, the Apprenticeship Programme of the Year Award will honour the country’s most impressive work-based training initiatives.

Commitment to 'top-quality apprenticeships'

Skills minister Nick Boles welcomed the new award, saying that it “gives us a chance to celebrate the commitment employers across the country make to delivering top-quality apprenticeships”. He added: “Leading businesses know that -investing in apprenticeships makes business sense. That’s why they are working with us to deliver 3 million quality apprenticeships by 2020.”

Stewart Segal, chief executive of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers and one of the judges of the awards, said: “With the government making apprenticeships its top priority for FE and skills during this Parliament, this new category is a very welcome addition. 

“Surveys regularly show very high satisfaction ratings among employers and apprentices in respect of the providers they work with on the programme, so why not recognise the best of the best with this award?”

The Sixth-Form College of the Year Award will also be contested for the first time. The victor will join the winners of the FE college and training provider categories to fight it out for the title of overall provider of the year.

James Kewin, deputy chief executive of the Sixth Form Colleges’ Association, said he was “absolutely delighted” about
the new award. “We’re very happy that the distinctive ethos, expertise and curriculum offering of sixth-form colleges is going to be recognised.”

Staff and students 'elated'

At the 2015 ceremony, Weston College in Somerset was named college of the year and overall FE provider of the year. Principal Paul Phillips said staff and students were “elated” about the awards, which had brought many benefits to the institution.

“Our staff are so proud, as is our local authority and local enterprise partnership area,” Dr Phillips added. “The award has had many impacts, but most importantly it has instilled pride and entrepreneurship across the organisation and resulted in many other providers visiting us to share best practice.”

Maria Thompson, principal of Havering College of Further and Higher Education in East London, told TES that winning the 2015 Contribution to the Local Community Award had been transformational for her institution.

“The TES FE Awards celebrate excellence and the significant contribution colleges make to society by improving the skill levels of young people and adult learners,” she added. “They are an important showcase for the sharing of good practice.

“Our staff and students feel a great sense of pride in planning and completing the many community projects in which they get involved, and to have national recognition is a great tribute to them.”

The 2016 awards, which are being held in association with the Education and Training Foundation, are open to entries from anyone working in the learning and skills sector in the UK.

Stephen Exley, TES FE editor, said: “At a time when the FE sector is facing increasing financial pressures and massive -reorganisation, it is more important than ever to recognise the amazing work going on in colleges and training providers.

“We are determined to celebrate the sector’s success stories and ensure that its strongest institutions and most inspirational -individuals get the credit they deserve.” 

The awards

  • Lifetime achievement 

  • Outstanding use of technology for improving teaching and learning 

  • Support for learners

  • Employer engagement

  • Best teaching and learning initiative

  • Marketing/communications campaign 

  • Contribution to the local community

  • Apprenticeship programme 

  • Teacher 

  • FE leader

  • Training provider

  • Sixth-form college 

  • FE college

  • Overall FE provider

How to enter

Entry is free and open to all further education establishments in the UK. To be considered for an award, please submit 500 words on why you deserve to win before midnight on 6 December 2015.

The shortlist will be announced on 12 February 2016 and the winners will be revealed on 22 April 2016 in a ceremony at the Grosvenor House hotel in Park Lane, London.

For more information, and full details of the entry criteria, visit

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