Staff and students were celebrating today at the news that Bishop Burton College has been awarded a prestigious Association of Colleges (AoC) Beacon Award for Practical Teaching and Practical Learning.
The college was announced as winner of the award, sponsored by Edge, by Matthew Hancock MP, Under-Secretary of State for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning at the AoC Annual Conference in Birmingham on Tuesday 20 November.
Bishop Burton College was selected as winner of this award for the way it has brought together the needs of the regional agriculture industry with providing its learners with employability and enterprise skills to meet those needs.
The on-site college farm provides top quality practical learning opportunities for learners who work alongside experienced teachers and industry professionals.
Students can work in dairy, beef, sheep, pig and cropping enterprises on the College farm and develop a clear understanding of the relevance of their studies both to the real commercial environment of the farm as well as the application of the skills learnt to the wider farming sector.
The award assessors felt that this submission represents an outstanding example of how industry and college can work in harness together to develop a very high quality training programme which could be a model for other colleges.
Jeanette Dawson OBE, principal and chief executive of Bishop Burton College, said winning the award was very welcome recognition of the college’s realistic outlook on preparing students for the working world.
“Our farm is run as a commercial business and the knock-on benefits for students of being taught in this realistic environment often puts them head and shoulders above other candidates when it comes to finding employment.
“Our enterprise and innovation culture ensures that all our students on our wide range of courses experience a real work environment on our campus enterprises.
“I feel this award also reflects the fantastic ethos of volunteering we have here among our students at Bishop Burton College. A great many of them leave here having achieved a volunteering qualification on top of their course credentials. This desire to go the extra mile, to give something extra, is a credit both to the students and our first-class staff who inspire them. Winning this award is something the whole Bishop Burton College team is very proud of.”
Jan Hodges, Chief Executive at Edge and sponsor of the Award, said, “The Edge Foundation has sponsored an AoC Beacon Award for several years. Edge is dedicated to raising the status of technical, practical and vocational learning and is proud to be associated with an award that recognises excellence in practical teaching and learning.
“The Bishop Burton College initiative provides an excellent example of how practical teaching and learning can be embedded across all programme levels. The use of the college estate and commercial farm enable students to experience a real work environment. By carrying out farm duties alongside professional farm staff as well as working on the financial aspects of business, they gain a valuable insight into the reality of a career in agriculture and related industries.
“I congratulate them on their Award and hope they continue to be a beacon for land based and general FE Colleges across the UK.”
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.”
Bishop Burton College will host a local celebration event in the New Year and will be presented with their Award by Matthew Hancock MP at a national presentation ceremony due to be held at Westminster on 6 February 2013.