News & Events

Further Education College wins national award for student support

Activate Learning win a national Association of Colleges Beacon Award

The Support for Students Award, sponsored by RCU Ltd, was presented to the winning college, Activate Learning, at the annual TES FE Awards ceremony in London on Friday 22 March 2019. The awards evening, which for the first time combined the strength of the annual TES FE Awards and the AoC Beacon Awards was a wonderful opportunity to recognise and celebrate best practice in many disciplines across the further education sector in the UK and we were extremely proud to be part of it this year. Our congratulations go out to all who were recognised on the night for their outstanding efforts and achievements.

Activate Learning, a further education college group with campuses based in Reading and Oxford, picked up the prize in the Support for Students category for its unique and innovative approach to helping high needs learners to develop their own voice, work towards independent living and secure a job.

Activate Learning’s initiative ‘Enriching the high needs learner experience through partnership working’, matches individual learner’s skills with opportunities for work experience in a network of over 200 organisations who share mutually beneficial values. The college works with learners, employers and the local community, including in areas of high deprivation, to help ensure their high needs learners progress to live independent, fulfilling lives and gain meaningful employment.

Richard Boniface, Managing Director of RCU said: “We are extremely proud to be the sponsors of the AoC Beacon Awards, Support for Students category this year and to see first-hand the wonderful work being done across the sector. A huge congratulations to this year’s winner Activate Learning who have demonstrated an innovative and unique programme of support for their students which both enriches their learning experience and significantly enhances their outcomes and future opportunities.”

David Hughes, Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges, said: “Each year the standard of entries is extremely high and this year is no exception. This makes choosing the winner so difficult, especially with so many worthy entrants.

“Colleges are inspirational places to learn because education and training is delivered by expert teaching staff in industry-standard facilities. Activate Learning should be proud of their award.”

Overview of the Winning Project

Activate Learning’s innovative learning and teaching partnerships are resulting in high needs learners successfully developing their own voice, securing employment and working towards independent living.

A strong focus on developing personal attributes, shared with learners, stakeholders and employers, consistently runs through their co-created curricula, work placements and support services. This unique approach ensures that learner achievement levels remain high, and that Activate Learning create sustainable employment opportunities for all their high needs learners.

Their supported employment initiatives enable learners to make their own choices, participate in society and make positive contributions. All high needs learners take up work placements with employers, from SMEs to national retailers. Last year, Activate Learning supported 310 high needs learners across 3 colleges and 2 counties with work placements.

As with all students enrolled at Activate Learning, their high needs learners are taught using a unique Learning Philosophy which identifies the important relationship between the brain, motivation and emotions in creating the right environment for effective learning and to create strong, sustainable relationships that shape the curriculum and generate real-life work experience.

Productive partnerships offer supported progression for high needs learners and Activate Learning’s high needs learning provision has twice been graded outstanding by Ofsted, most recently in 2018.


Chris Lee, RCU Ltd