East Durham College among the winners of prestigious national education awards

Feb 10, 2021 | Local News

East Durham College has been announced as the winners of the Association of Colleges (AoC) Beacon Pears #iwill Award for Social Action and Student Engagement.

During 2019/20, East Durham College created our own bespoke Community Action Projects for all learners to undertake. The projects were learner led, personal to the students and really helped bridge the gap between East Durham College learners and their wider community.

The projects were a huge success with learners coming up with unique and inspirational ways of engaging the socially isolated and supporting an array of local charities and causes. Over 70 projects supported groups such as the local women’s refuge, local branches of Age UK and several local Care Homes.

Some of the many activities students held were:

  • Health & Social Care learners volunteered at ‘Café Together’ in Easington (a community Café set up to serve hot food and conversation for anyone in the community who feels socially isolated).
  • Catering learners volunteered their time at local care homes, facilitating intergenerational games, activities and providing afternoon tea and conversation for residents.
  • Painting & Decorating students identified dog litter as a big problem in local play parks. They designed and printed several humorous and factual posters encouraging dog owners to pick up after their dogs. These posters were put up, with support from the park wardens, in play parks in Peterlee and received very positive feedback from the Town Council.
  • Peter Jones Academy learners raised funds and created decorative boxes filled with welcome packs of items to be given to new residents of the local Women’s refuge
  • Construction and TSA learners designed, planned and took part in a charity football tournament raising funds and awareness for the Bradley Lowery Foundation

The Association of Colleges’ Beacon Awards celebrate the best and most innovative practice among UK colleges each year. This award supported by Pears #IWill campain celebrates social action and community engagement.

The news was announced this afternoon as part of the AoC Annual Conference and Exhibition 2021.

Suzanne Duncan, Principal of EDC was thrilled to hear the news and said “We’re thrilled to have won the Pears #IWill Award for Social Action and Student Engagement in this years AoC Beacon Awards. This award recognises the tremendous efforts of students and staff in the college to not only better themselves but their local community too. East Durham College always has been a place that cares about its position in the local community, we want our students to not only excel on an academic and vocational level, but on a deeper level that engages with the world around us and takes action to make positive changes in it.

Last year, the creativity of students shone through as they planned and executed a huge range of activities and events, supporting a range of local charities. They were supported by our incredible team of progression coaches and teaching staff who help realise the ideas and plans of our students. This award is a cause for celebration for every student, staff member and friend of the college, and is a testament to our dedication to providing the best education, opportunities and prospects to every student that walks through our doors.”

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 colleges’ ability to engage in social action and engagement in their communities with strategies to provide transformational educational opportunities through social action and learner participation. The work of the winning college shows the impact the student-led social action has on the local community and the successful engagement with individuals in citizenship learning.”

The AoC’s membership includes more than 200 colleges in England, including general further education, sixth form, tertiary and land-based colleges. It supports, represents and protects the interests of its member colleges, as well as the rest of the FE sector.

The Association of Colleges (AoC) Beacon Awards highlight the breadth and quality of education in colleges throughout the UK and increase understanding of colleges’ contribution to UK educational skills policy and economic and social development. The Awards are administered by the AoC Charitable Trust which was established to advance the education of members of the public over the age of 16 years.