North West Regional College (NWRC) has scooped a prestigious national education award, recognising the outstanding contribution made by its innovative and unique Careers Academy to the lives of learners in the region.
NWRC was the only College in Northern Ireland to win a coveted Association of College’s Beacon Award, picking up the accolade for Careers Education and Guidance, at a Gala ceremony in London on Friday night.
Now in their 24th year, the Beacon Awards celebrate the best and most innovative practice among UK further education colleges, rewarding those that go above and beyond in providing high-quality technical and professional education.
Finneen Bradley, Manager of NWRC’s Careers Academy, said she was delighted to pick up the gong, adding that it underpinned the outstanding standard of education and training that is being delivered across all five campuses of North West Regional College.
She said: “This award is testament to the sterling work that is taking place at our college.
“When we first opened the Academy it was because we recognised the need for Careers Education to firmly be embedded across all areas of the Curriculum.
“The work my team and I undertake is changing and enhancing lives, not only in our college but in our community on a daily basis.
“We believe not only in delivering the best education at NWRC, but we are passionate about building the careers and futures of our young people.
“I would like to pay tribute to the amazing staff at the Careers Academy, who come to work every day with this shared vision.”
Leo Murphy, Principal and Chief Executive of NWRC said: “I would like to congratulate Finneen and her team for this award, so richly deserved.
“To become a Beacon College is an outstanding accolade, not only for NWRC, but for the city and region.
“I am extremely proud of our staff at the Careers Academy who have been recognised not only for the exceptional service they provide to students and the wider community, but providing the best careers advice on these islands.”
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.”
The Careers Academy within NWRC runs a hugely successful careers programme focussed on employability, enterprise and enrichment, providing a one-stop support service for students; an open door policy for career planning and guidance interviews; and bespoke programmes and interactive workshops.
Its careers strategy extends into the community and annually the Academy holds a roadshow, taking the college’s offering to central locations to promote further education as a route into employment. North West Regional College also runs a packed calendar of events including weeks dedicated to exploring the topics of resilience, enterprise and mental health week.
In their citation, assessors for the awards recognised NWRC’s dedicated Careers Academy, which is helping to tackle high levels of unemployment in the wider community by offering “work-ready” courses.
Assessors also acknowledged that the college operates in “a very challenging area, facing the remnants of sectarianism and extreme levels of deprivation”. The assessors said they were impressed with the “culture and commitment that is transforming learners’ prospects and lives, and supporting the economy of the region itself through innovative bespoke career workshops for different sectors.
“Careers education is in every part of the curriculum,” they added.
“The whole sector across the UK and beyond can learn from your hard and intelligent work to achieve impressive and full integration of careers education into the curriculum, to help learners achieve more than they thought possible and to support the community in raising hope, opportunity and progression.”