Jane Samuels, Project and Operations Manager for Edge

The Edge Foundation has sponsored the AoC Beacon Award for Practical Teaching and Practical Learning since 2005/6. Each year the winning college is rewarded with a £5,000 cash prize. Edge has caught up with previous winning colleges to find out how winning the prestigious award has benefited teachers and students.

In 2010 Coleg Morganwg won the Edge Award for their Skills for Costume and Construction in Theatre & Screen initiative. The course leader, Emma Highgate was awarded the Excellence in Teaching & Learning Award by the College’s validation partner, the University of Glamorgan.

The Edge prize money was used to purchase new industrial sewing machines and mannequins as well as promoting the win within the sector. The publicity strengthened Coleg Morganwg’s winning bid to make the costumes for the WorldSkills London 2011 opening ceremony at the O2. Students are now in the process of producing all the costumes for the RCT County Pantomime.

The students constructed the costumes following briefings from the design/creative team and 8 students worked as dressers during the event. This opportunity led to the college being invited to attend the briefing for London 2012 Olympic opening ceremonies; which will be open to their students to apply to work as volunteers within the costume department – the previous opportunities should improve their chances of being selected to work on this spectacular event.

The win provided recognition for the hard work and excellence of the programme which provided staff with greater confidence in aspiring to a greater national profile.

"Winning the AoC Edge Award & Presidents prize has provided a wonderful opportunity to promote the excellence of vocational training at the college to employers and within the sector to the benefit of staff and students," said Emma Highgate, course leader Coleg Morganwg.

In 2009/10 West Cheshire College won the award for their ‘Real Learning for Real Work’ initiative at The Vocational Academy for Hospitality and Catering.

The prize money was used to buy equipment they couldn’t have otherwise purchased. The rest of the money went towards a trip for students to Snowdonia. It had a really positive impact on the morale of staff and students. It raised the profile of the department and the college both locally and nationally.

Many of the students have progressed onto Higher Education and employment, one example of someone who achieved a fantastic outcome is Vivienne McClelland who finished her course in June 2011 after 2 years at the college and is now a pastry chef at The Grosvenor Hotel & Spa, the only 5* Hotel in Chester.

Sam Stevens, Manager of Hospitality and Catering, West Cheshire Colleges, said: "Winning the AoC Beacon Award was an affirmation of our approach to vocational teaching and learning. It made the staff and students realise that they were part of something special that they had created and were driving forward."

Cambridge Regional College’s Centre for Sustainable Development won the AoC Award in 2008/9 for its Innovative Construction Curriculum. The prize money was used to buy new equipment, sustainable construction materials and helped develop courses on modern methods of construction.

Steve Gayfer, Teaching and Learning Development Manager, said: "Winning the Edge Award for Practical Teaching and Practical Learning enabled us to raise the profile of the course and reward staff and students. It highlights the quality of teaching and learning at Cambridge Regional College and helped develop our students aspirations and a pathway to Higher Education."

Since winning the award, Cambridge Regional College have been involved in a number of exciting high impact projects including the creation of a new Smart LIFE Low Carbon Skills Centre. This is part of The Hive Education and Enterprise Park, a joint venture between Cambridge Regional College and Cambridgeshire County Council, set up to teach the workforce skills of the future.

Students learn the expertise needed for building low carbon homes and installing renewable energy systems, opening up jobs in the renewable energy and sustainable construction sectors.

It will also support existing businesses looking to adapt to a low carbon economy and teach the workforce skills needed for building low carbon homes and installing renewable energy solutions. Specialist classrooms will be used to teach the installation of photo-voltaic, advanced gas and solar energy systems.

Students from Cambridge Regional College were also involved in The Eco House project, a group venture delivered by a consortium of college construction departments for the WorldSkills London 2011 event at Excel. Apprentices from the industry constructed the house outside the entrance and visitors were able to view the house as part of their visit and find out more about careers in construction and green technology.

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. We look forward to the announcement of winner for the Edge award within the AoC Beacon Awards later this week.

Jane Samuels, Project and Operations Manager for Edge

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