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Offering a second chance

Ngaio Crequer reviews the annual awards to outstanding colleges and focuses on the achievements of one of the winners

NEARLY half-a-million pounds has been given by sponsors to colleges demonstrating outstanding teaching and learning.

The Beacon Awards programme, launched in 1994, has achieved phenomenal growth.

In 199495 there were six sponsors. This year there are 32. In the first year there were 100 applications from colleges and this has now risen to 365. The most popular award this year, with 41 submissions, is that sponsored by The TES and the Association of Colleges for Widening Participation.

The programme aims to:

give recognition annually to outstanding teaching and learning practice across the FE curriculum

highlight the breadth and quality of education provision in colleges throughout the UK

support learning and continuous improvement through the dissemination of award-bearing practice

raise awareness and increase understanding of the colleges' contribution to and role within the UK economy

Caroline St John-Brooks, editor of The TES, said: "We are delighted to be one of the sponsors of the Beacon Awards as we recognise all the hard work, commitment and dedication put in by the colleges. Further education can be a lifeline to people who for one reason or another are floundering. However, such youngsters are often hard to reach and are far from enthusiastic about educational institutions. Colleges have to be both committed and creative in their efforts to attract such students. The winners of all these awards demonstrate some exciting examples of what can be achieved - when colleges are really serious about offering a second chance to people who otherwise would be facing a bleak future."

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