18 November 2016

L to R: Jon Culshaw, impressionist and television star, Sarah Nolan, Marketing, Admissions & Liaison Manager, Anton McGrath, Principal, Hazel Kindley, Guidance Manager and  Paul Eeles, Chief Executive of Skills & Education Group

Ashton Sixth Form College is celebrating national recognition after winning an award at the ‘Oscars’ for the Further Education sector in the UK.

Already recognised as being in the top 30% of colleges nationally for the progress of its students, Ashton Sixth Form College won the Skills and Education Group Award for College/School Partnerships at the Association of Colleges (AoC) annual Beacon Awards held in Birmingham this week (Wed Nov 16).

The Association of College’s (AoC) Beacon Awards recognise the best and most innovative practice among UK further education colleges. The awards celebrate excellence in the sector and this year’s winners were announced by Baroness Sharp and impressionist Jon Culshaw at the AoC annual conference and exhibition.

The college impressed judges with the lead role they play in education in the borough, and in particular providing visionary leadership in setting up an educational trust called the A+ Trust, which brings together a range of schools in collaborative work across Tameside. The work undertaken to raise attainment, aspiration and achievement in Tameside has made the Trust the key model of improvement for the local area.

Principal Anton McGrath said: To have made it on to the shortlist for an AoC Beacon Award was recognition in itself of the outstanding collaborative work that is raising standards across Tameside. To then go on and win such a prestigious award for our work is the icing on the cake. This award highlights the outstanding work that is happening across Tameside by the A+ Trust to raise the achievements and aspirations of young people in our area. The AoC Beacon Award is recognition of our approach at Ashton Sixth Form College, to work collaboratively with Secondary Schools in the area to ensure we provide an excellent education to young people and they achieve the results they deserve”.

The college has been celebrating their award with the seven schools within the A+ Trust who are Alder Community High School, Astley Sports College, Cromwell High School, Denton Community College, Hyde Community College, Longdendale High School, Mossley Hollins High School and former Principal Dr Janet Nevin, who played a key role in setting up the Trust five years ago.

Paul Eeles, Chief Executive of the Skills and Education Group, said: “Sponsoring an AoC Beacon Award gives the Skills and Education Group the opportunity to raise its profile and to recognise the importance and value of collaborative approaches in the education and skills sector. The winner  of our award is a college/school partnership that has gone above and beyond in order to improve pre to post-16 transitions for their learners. They will work closely with other education providers, put the needs of learners above the aspirations of the institution and ensure that learners receive unlimited opportunities to progress onto further or higher education or into the workplace.”

Dame Pat Bacon, Chair of the AoC Beacon Awards, said: “Ashton Sixth Form College is an outstanding representative of the excellent work happening in colleges across the country. It’s a privilege to be part of an awards programme that recognises the energy colleges put into supporting their students, staff, employers and local communities.”