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November 19, 2009 10:39 ET

West Cheshire College Wins AoC/Edge Beacon Award

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM--(Marketwire - Nov. 19, 2009) - West Cheshire College is celebrating after being named as an Association of Colleges Beacon Award winner. The Awards, which this year celebrate 16 years of rewarding outstanding teaching and learning in further education Colleges, were announced at a ceremony hosted by comedienne and author Shappi Khorsandi at the AoC's Annual Conference in Birmingham on November 17.

West Cheshire College won the Edge Award for Practical Teaching and Practical Learning for the work of its Vocational Academy for Hospitality and Catering. The Award recognises the effective use of practical learning with an emphasis on meaningful and challenging courses that stretch and change the lives of students.

The assessors praised the College for the strength of the Vocational Academy concept and the genuine emphasis it puts on the individual students and their needs. It seeks to break down the barriers to learning by giving students the confidence to succeed. Enthusiastic, committed and passionate staff and students make this initiative worthy of recognition for its innovative approach to the development of students in the Hospitality and Catering sector. This practical approach to learning has more than doubled success rates at the College since 2005.

The UK-wide Beacon Awards provide national recognition for excellence and innovation as well as acknowledging the talents of staff at all levels. They highlight the breadth and quality of education in the College sector.

Chair of the AoC Beacon Awards, Dame Patricia Morgan-Webb said:

"Beacon winners blaze a trail in finding new ways of doing things; they contribute to social justice and are instrumental in local economic and social re-generation, essential during these turbulent times. Whilst the winners this year are located all across the UK, what they all share are the key traits of innovation, creativity, responsiveness and a collaborative approach. I am delighted on behalf of the AoC Charitable Trust to reward the contribution that these Colleges make; they are the pillars of our communities."

College Principal Sara Mogel said:

"We are delighted to have won this award. It is hugely rewarding for our staff and learners to receive public recognition of their hard work and success.

"Key to our learners' success it that they work in a real environment at all times, working a shift system in College to prepare them for employment. 

"We no longer differentiate between teaching and catering roles as all our staff work with learners in the kitchens, in the restaurant and behind the service counters. Entry level learners to professional chefs produce food for sale in the College restaurants and service areas.

"With an achievement rate of 94% we can clearly demonstrate our innovative methods work."

Andy Powell, Chief Executive of Edge, commented:

"West Cheshire College is pioneering new ways of teaching and learning. In some parts of the country, education can be a one size fits all approach, but West Cheshire College has shown how – through customised learning – the talents and aspirations of all young people can be realised. I congratulate the College on their Award and look forward to seeing more Colleges and schools across the country following their example."

Eddie Brittain, AoC Beacon Awards Lead Assessor said:

"Having seen the Awards programme expand in the past 16 years, I am heartened, not only by the number of nominations and the engagement of the sector, but also by the degree of excellence that my fellow assessors and I witnessed when we spent time in these centres of learning. By presenting these Awards, the AoC showcases best practice, innovative development and continuous improvement, creating beacons that other Colleges can look to for help, inspiration and encouragement."

West Cheshire College will host a local celebration event in the New Year and will be presented with their Award by the Rt. Hon. Kevin Brennan MP, Minister of State for Further Education, at a national presentation ceremony due to be held at Westminster in February 2010.

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