News & Events

Bridgwater and Taunton College wins the AoC Beacon award for Support for Students.

Earlier this week, we were delighted to announce Bridgwater and Taunton College as winners of the prestigious AoC Beacon Award for Support for Students, sponsored by RCU.

The AoC Beacon Awards capture and celebrate the best and most innovative practice among UK further education colleges. The aim of the awards is to demonstrate and promote the far-reaching impact of colleges on their students and the communities they serve.

As winners of the Support for Student Award, Bridgwater and Taunton College has been recognised for their unwavering commitment to supporting students through innovative and inclusive educational pathways.

Their work recognises the glaring disparity in employment opportunities for individuals with learning disabilities, with just 4.6% of this demographic engaged in paid employment compared to the national average of 93%.

In 2017 BTC embarked on a journey of inclusion and empowerment, addressing the stark employment gap for individuals with learning disabilities in the UK. The journey began with the Project SEARCH Supported Internship at Musgrove Park Hospital which yielded outstanding outcomes including sustained paid employment for participants.

Following this success of Project SEARCH, in collaboration with Somerset County Council, local employers, and Supported Employment Partners, the college has developed a wide range of exciting opportunities and pathways for their learners, such as the Hinkley Point C Supported Traineeship and the Avon and Somerset Police Pathway to Employment.

Looking ahead, BTC is committed to continuous development, with initiatives such as establishing a college shop for practical experience, leading the Digital for All project for technology integration in the workplace for SEND students, and developing a SEMH-specific Supported Internship programme.

Andy Berry, Principal and CEO of Bridgwater & Taunton College, stated, “Our vision is to transform lives through innovative learning and partnerships. This award is a testament to work the team who have created a dynamic and inclusive ecosystem for students within our Supported Employment Programmes. I could not be prouder, they have been unwavering in their support of our students, providing them with opportunities they could only have dreamt of, bringing out the best in them to ensure they are able to thrive in the workplace.

We could not have achieved these outcomes without our employer partners who have provided students with fantastic opportunities where they can make a contribution to the workplace and have meaningful careers.”

Richard Boniface, RCU Managing Director said: Bridgwater & Taunton College is transforming lives in its local community, ensuring learners with disabilities are not left behind. The college presented an innovative and successful model that guides students with disabilities from education to Supported Internships and onto sustainable paid employment. RCU are proud to sponsor the AoC Beacon Awards and we were delighted to announce Oldham College as winners this year.”


For almost 30 years, the AoC Beacon Awards have showcased best practice, excellence and innovation in colleges.

RCU have been proud sponsors of the AoC ‘Support for Students’ Beacon Award since 2019.


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