facebook noscript

We have won two AoC Beacon Awards!

Head of Student Services Liam Garside with Vice Principal for Students Jess Leech at the AoC Beacon Awards.

Head of Student Services Liam Garside with Vice Principal for Students Jess Leech at the AoC Beacon Awards.

We are the proud winner of two accolades at the Association of Colleges’ annual Beacon Awards – for the College’s outstanding commitment to the mental health of students, and its exceptional governance.

Now in its 29th year, the Beacon Awards recognise excellence and the country’s most innovative practice in Further Education institutions. This year is the second time in as many years we are celebrating a pair of award wins.

Ahead of the College winning the NOCN Group Award for Mental Health and Wellbeing, the AoC noted we stood out for our wellness recovery action plans (WRAPs). WRAPs are bespoke solutions designed alongside the College’s Health and Wellbeing department, which help individual students understand triggers, warning signs and daily maintenance activities that affect their mental health.

Developed with charity MIND, the WRAP scheme was designed to ‘tackle a mental health crisis that was threatening to overwhelm support services in the local area’. WRAPs are one of a number of initiatives to support wellbeing in the College, which also include signposting to local services, access to online talking therapies through the SilverCloud platform, and forum discussion and journalling through Kooth.

“The college’s WRAP stands out because it can sit alongside existing and new therapeutic and medical interventions, removing the void of support often felt by young people waiting for clinical treatment,” said the AoC.

“The initiative’s plan is built around self-awareness, resilience, responsibility and management, incorporating self-help, the support of others and interventions such as social prescribing, counselling or cognitive behavioural therapy. In this way learners can develop a sustainable strategy which continues to support them as they progress beyond college.”

Barnsley College was also chosen as a finalist in the AoC Award for Excellence in Governance for the transparency and visibility of governors, ensuring they are ‘dynamic actors in the work and life of the college’ – with streamlined formal scrutiny meetings combined with informal ‘creative sessions providing an opportunity to focus on strategy and forward planning’.

The College is joint winner of that award alongside East Kent Colleges Group.

Liam Garside, Head of Student Services at Barnsley College, said: “As a Further Education institution, we are seen to be sector-leading for the wellbeing services offered to our students. Over the past few years, we have seen a rise in referrals for mental health, but our experts in the Health and Wellbeing team and across the college work innovatively to implement interventions for students at risk.

“Because of the bespoke support we offer, we’re able to offer solutions to empower students in everything from daily wellness to recognising and responding to crisis situations.

“Our main goal is provide our young people with the skills to support and manage their mental wellbeing – not just while they are learning with us, but so that they have the knowledge and tools to support them in the future.”

Barnsley College Principal and Chief Executive, David Akeroyd said: “We are delighted that our hard work to transform the lives of our students has been recognised with these two award wins.

“The AoC Beacon Awards are renowned across the country and with good reason – they recognise colleges which represent the cream of the crop nationally in terms of innovation and best practice.

“We feel that this recognition is particularly special for Barnsley College as the two awards cover seemingly quite different ends of the spectrum – the wellbeing of our students and the quality of our governance – but both show our commitment to empowering our students to develop into resilient, engaged and compassionate adults.

“Ensuring that they have the correct tools to do so – and they are unimpeded, and supported, by the College’s governance and strategy – remains a strong focus across the whole College.”

Mark White, 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 excellent practical teaching and learning.

“The work of the winning college shows how important colleges are in providing students with the necessary skills for the real world.”

Last updated: 27th February 2024

Originally posted on: 27th February 2024

Skip to content