Preston’s College staff and learners are celebrating, after winning the prestigious AoC Beacon Award for Support for Students, sponsored by RCU, at the 25th annual awards ceremony.

Chosen for the pioneering response to changing migration patterns in the Preston area, supporting increasingly vulnerable English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) learners and cementing the college’s position as a College of Sanctuary in the area; the award provides recognition for the comprehensive learner support systems available at Preston’s College and the positive impact those systems make on the lives of asylum seeker and refugee learners.

The initiative, titled ‘Making a Difference in the Lives of our ESOL learners’, was chosen as the overall category winner, evidencing how learners are both empowered and equipped with vital skills, with the wider project offering a holistic approach to improving integration, education and progression opportunities for ESOL learners.

Speaking after the event, Vivien Caparros, Head of School: Skills Development, ESOL and Community Learning said:

“I am proud to be part of a fantastic team who every day go above and beyond to provide effective support to our learners.  Preston’s College welcomes learners from different nationalities and cultures, and we continually adapt our teaching and support mechanisms to help them overcome barriers whilst celebrating diversity and promoting mutual respect”.

Dr Lis Smith, Principal and Chief Executive Officer at Preston’s College commented:

“I am delighted that we have won the AoC Support for Students Beacon Award; a category which truly reflects our vision and values and places learners at the heart of everything we do. The ESOL team are a wonderful team who continue to work passionately and tirelessly, to seek opportunities to support the asylum seeker and refugee community, alongside the wider ESOL community.

Ourselves and the Governors are extremely proud of the team and are fully committed to supporting an inclusive community provision. Widening access and participation is a fundamental element of the College Strategy and we are passionate about ensuring that learners from under-represented groups and those from disadvantaged backgrounds have fair access to education.”

Julie Nerney, Chair of AoC Charitable Trust added:

“This college has gone above and beyond in equipping and empowering students to have a voice, to solve their own challenges, make their own choices and to participate in their community. They have shown great dedication to fully support students into college, employment and adult life, enabling them to achieve their goals and helping them to transform their lives.”