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College wins national award for inspirational widening participation project

Staff at Stoke on Trent College are celebrating after members of its ESOL teaching team were named winners in the ‘education Oscars’ for student services professionals.

The college triumphed at the annual NAMSS awards – short for National Association of Managers in Student Services, winning first place in the ‘Inspirational Project of the Year’ Category for their ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) widening participation summer programme – ‘Belonging, Being, Becoming’. This award recognises the impact of the innovative project which has made a significant difference to the lives of highly vulnerable asylum seeker children in Stoke-on-Trent and is a testament to the staff team for their nurture and guidance, ensuring learners received an excellent welcome to life in Stoke-on-Trent and progressed onto ESOL Foundation courses.

The awards are aimed at celebrating and showcasing the hard work, dedication and impact of student services across the further education and skills sector in the UK and took place on 4th March at the NAMSS annual conference as part of a Gala Dinner event.  The award was presented at the event to Emma Beaumont from the Foundation ESOL Team at Stoke on Trent College.

The Inspirational Project award celebrates the fantastic achievements of the summer programme, with over 75 young people taking part in life-changing educational and social experiences. The innovative programme recognised the acute need to provide courses for unaccompanied asylum seekers aged 16-18 over the summer period to engage, enthuse and prepare learners in preparation for starting college courses in the following academic year.  Through the use of innovative practices to engage and develop the diverse range of ESOL learners, the team ensured that the language skills, knowledge and behaviours gained provided learners with the confidence and ability to become more independent members of the community, as well as being able to progress onto further courses at the College.

The unique offer consisted of a range of outdoor activities, community projects and a team challenge designed to develop skills such as resilience and tolerance along with team building, as well as showcasing the country and the diversity it brings.

This is the second time the College has won an award, as well as being shortlisted for an award in 2023.

The team were nominated by Dave Hopley, Assistant Principal for Student Experience at Stoke on Trent College. He explains: “For Emma and the team, this is more than just a job. They go far above and beyond to ensure that the learners, some of whom may have experienced trauma in their lives, are well looked after and well supported during their time at college.”

Dave concludes: “I am extremely proud of the team. This is a tremendous accolade for their hard work on the programme this Summer. They are all very dedicated to creating opportunities and exciting experiences for our students.  NAMSS has almost 400 members – so to be recognised for good practice amongst those peers is a real boost to us all and shows we go the extra mile for our students.”

Lisa Capper MBE, Principal and CEO of Stoke on Trent College added: “This sector-leading programme really showcases all that is special about Stoke on Trent College.  Our ability to tailor a programme which develops confidence, student ability, personal resilience and the skills needed to progress is a fantastic live example of our skills ready, future ready strategy.  I am extremely proud of all of the team for this well-deserved award.”

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