From education to employment

EKC Group excels at Association of Colleges’ Beacon Awards

Senior members of staff were joined by MPs Damian Collins and Sir Roger Gale at the awards ceremony

EKC Group has triumphed at the Association of College’s Beacon Awards, coming top in one category and runner-up in a second.

The prestigious accolades are seen as the Oscars of UK Colleges, with each contested between the Association of Colleges’ (AoC) 273 members.

At an awards ceremony on Monday 27 February, it was announced the Group had won The Edge Award for Excellence in Real World Learning Award, causing celebration among staff, students and local MPs alike.

Ensuring learners get real world examples is crucial to their positive progression into employment. Working collaboratively with stakeholders and local employers, EKC Group – which runs six Colleges across East Kent – came up with the idea of turning a mothballed building into The Yarrow, a training hotel that would inspire the hospitality professionals of the future.

The hotel works in partnership with a range of local stakeholders ensuring that learners receive the training that employers need, helping to meet local skills gaps and enabling the Group’s students to have the best opportunities when they achieve their qualification.

Judges reasoned The Yarrow is unrivalled in the world of Further Education. It’s proven an effective tool in creating a talent pipeline for the sector, and the Group’s commitment to its ongoing success has seen it rated the best hotel in Kent on Tripadvisor.

The Yarrow offers learning experiences to students from departments including catering, business and hospitality

Further praise was heaped on EKC Group’s excellent ties within the communities it serves and local employers. These established links give students the opportunity to gain placements and experiences which have an impact in the world outside of the classroom.

Speaking after the Group was announced as the winner, its Chief Executive Graham Razey OBE said: “Our Broadstairs hotel, The Yarrow, has proven itself as an absolute sector leader, delivering a genuinely inspirational experience for the many students who’ve had the opportunity to work there. As a hotel it is in the top 100 ranked in England by travellers on TripAdvisor and is a breeding ground for the future stars of the hospitality industry.

“However, it goes beyond that, also offering up a community facility that’s fully embedded itself into its locality, providing jobs within Thanet and bringing tourists into the area. It’s truly a testament of the exceptional work by our passionate and committed staff, and I am so proud of this win for them.”

The Beacon Award follows EKC Group’s recent success in achieving Chartered Status, with Chief Executive Graham Razey OBE (right) picking up the certification in December

Mark White, Interim Chair of AoC’s Charitable Trust said: “The AoC Beacon Awards showcase exactly why colleges are so important to every community and why people value them. This award recognises examples of excellent practical teaching and learning. The work of EKC Group shows how important colleges are in providing students with the necessary skills for the real world.”

The Edge Award for Excellence in Real World Learning Award was one of two Beacon Awards that the Group was shortlisted for this year. Despite not being announced as the winner of the Nous Group Award for Education for Sustainable Development, to be commended in the field is still an incredible achievement.

For more information about EKC Group, click here.

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