OLDHAM College has been crowned “FE College of the Year” at the national Edufuturists Awards 2021.
The accolade, which was revealed in an online ceremony, was secured by employees’ efforts and achievements in supporting learners from all backgrounds during the pandemic.
Oldham has consistently been amongst the highest UK COVID-19 infection rates and has endured extended lockdowns.
Almost all Oldham College’s 6,500 learners and staff spent lengthy periods remote learning and working – and there was a clear danger disadvantaged students would suffer the biggest impact.
Assistive Technology – equipment, software and systems to help learners with disabilities – was put into place with the benefits then explained through Google Classroom sessions, e-workshops, and a specialised blog.
Oldham College’s trailblazing ‘Let’s Get Digital’ podcast – hosted by Eve Sheppard and Stacey Salt, Advanced Practitioners – was also launched showcasing what works best in blended and online learning.
More than 900 laptops were delivered to students’ homes and each month over 500 courtesy calls were made checking on each learners’ progress and needs.
A new ‘Student Hive’ portal was set-up offering access to all learning resources and information, plus a Virtual Help Desk to help everyone adapt. Video blogs and Live Chat ensured queries were answered round the clock, with meal expenses and vouchers also provided for those studying at home.
Alun Francis, Oldham College Principal and Chief Executive, said: “The pandemic has been a very challenging time for learners and staff alike – and to be recognised by Edufuturists as FE College of the Year is absolutely fantastic.
“Our staff achieved so much, so quickly, and the effort involved people across all teams ranging from tutors and advanced practitioners through to IT, finance and support staff volunteers.
“We didn’t just successfully move lessons from classrooms to homes: we went the extra mile in ensuring every single learner, regardless of their background and personal circumstances, was fully supported to adapt.”
Liz Wilcox, Oldham College’s specialist Dyslexia Tutor, received the award on behalf of learners and staff.
She said: “I’m so proud of what Oldham College has achieved – with big strides in the quality of our offer, facilities, results and reputation.
“A huge reason for that is our digital learning capabilities, the dedication of staff to move with the times, and the commitment that has been made to assistive technology.
“To be acknowledged for our strategic improvement by Edufuturists’ panel of judges and our peers – is really gratifying.”
Edufuturists explores and celebrates the future of education through a weekly podcast with innovative educators from around the world.
This is where they plug into the network of cutting-edge leaders and teachers who are pushing the boundaries of education and is how they research, explore and learn what the future of education could be.
Oldham College beat City College Plymouth, College of Haringey Enfield and North East London, and Petroc College to win the Edufuturists’ ‘FE College of the Year 2021’ Award on July 2. The shortlist was put together by a judges’ panel and a public vote also counted as one vote in deciding the winning entry.