Realising Aspirations receives Commendation at NEON awards

4 June 2018

Ashton Sixth Form College was shortlisted for a NEON award recently for its work with the flagship programme, Realising Aspirations, in widening participation. It was recognised with a commendation for the work of the programme at the awards ceremony in May, which was held at the Palace of Westminster in London.

Realising Aspirations at Ashton Sixth Form College is a flagship program that aims to prepare students for life after college. Students express an interest in a particular subject strand, which have previously included 'History of Art,' 'Language and Linguistics,' 'Healthcare' and 'Engineering.' Then, through a series of seminars and lectures, students experience university-style teaching via some of the leading lecturers in their chosen field. They also get to travel to a university across the country to try university life first hand. The program allows students to make more informed decisions about university and allows them to understand the options available to them in the future. The program also educates students on funding and student finance options, types of university, and the range of courses on offer.

The National Education Opportunities Network (NEON) was formed in 2012 and works to enable wider access to higher education. The NEON Awards,

provide a platform to celebrate the successes and accomplishments of our members and their learners in widening access to higher education and enabling social mobility. (

The work of the Realising Aspirations programme at Ashton Sixth Form College was nominated for a NEON Access School or College Award earlier in the year and received a special Commendation at the Awards Ceremony. This award recognises particular schools or colleges who have worked extremely hard to ensure that all learners, including those from under-represented groups, have equal access to higher education. This is one of the main aims of the Realising Aspirations programme - there are no entry requirements to join the Realising Aspirations programme, other than a passion for the subject and a willingness to learn, and students on any course are eligible to enrol on the programme. 

Katie MacKissack, Realising Aspirations Co-ordinator, and Hazel Kindley, Guidance Manager, collected the award on behalf of the college.

Find out more about Realising Aspirations here.

Tags: awards realising aspirations widening participation