Education Partnership North East has won The Edge Award for Excellence in Real World Learning at this year’s Association of College’s Beacon Awards.

Attracting hundreds of applications from all over the country each year, the Beacon Awards are the most prestigious awards in further education and have been running for 29 years. The awards celebrate the best and most innovative practice in further education colleges and demonstrate the far-reaching impact of colleges on their students and the communities they serve.

The award is in recognition of Education Partnership North East’s Cultural and Social Capital project that has driven excellence in the curriculum in partnership with employers.

Sheree Rymer, Faculty Director in Creative, Digital & Computing at Sunderland College, said: “We are overwhelmed to win the award for excellence in real world learning, this is not just a win for the faculty and college but a win for Sunderland as a city.

“The strong relationships we have with industry professionals means we are able to be innovative and create a clear strategy regarding how we embed real world learning into our curriculum.

“We are so pleased the judges were able to see the extraordinary things that have been achieved and how we are going to further develop this initiative in the future.”

The Beacon Awards celebrate the best and most innovative practice among UK further education (FE) colleges. It is managed by AoC and run through AoC Charitable Trust – a registered charity.

The aim of the awards programme is to demonstrate and promote the far-reaching impact of colleges on their students and the communities they serve. The commended and winning case studies will be used to increase understanding of colleges’ contribution to educational skills policy and economic and social development.

The spotlight has been on problem solving in the real world, preparation for industry inclusion, industry expert masterclasses and an array of live briefs and commissions. Students work has been showcased through performance, exhibitions, and a digital expo.

The award supported by the Edge Foundation seeks to recognise examples of practical teaching and learning that equips people with the skills that today’s global and digital economy demands, through a broad and balanced curriculum, high quality training, engaging real world learning and rich relationships between education and employer.

Toni Rhodes, Deputy Chief Executive Officer at Education Partnership North East said: “It is brilliant to have achieved this award. Real word learning is core to our pedagogical principles and I’m so pleased that our staff have been recognised for their brilliance and hard work in this area.”

Mark White, 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 the winning college shows how important colleges are in providing students with the necessary skills for the real world.”

The winners of this year’s Beacon Awards were announced on Tuesday 27 February during Colleges Week. Colleges Week is an annual celebration of the incredible work colleges are doing across the country, and this year it is taking place between 26 February and 1 March. This year, the theme is influencing, engaging and celebrating, with a look ahead to the upcoming mayoral and general elections.

Why Education Partnership North East (EPNE)?

Highly commended - Employer of the Year, Sunderland Echo Portfolio Awards 2019

Engagement with Employers - Association of Colleges (AoC) Beacon Award 2017

(Sunderland College On-programme Survey 2017)

Selected by DfE for 2021 T Level pilot to deliver the new high-quality technical qualifications.

98% overall employer satisfaction - Employer Survey 2018/19