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The Corporation

Posted: 12/02/10

West Nottinghamshire College wins prestigious AoC Beacon Award

West Nottinghamshire College is celebrating after receiving an Association of Colleges’ (AoC) Beacon Award at a presentation ceremony in Westminster, London, (10 Feb), for its smart procurement project with resulted in savings of more than £5 million.

The college was presented with the ‘DCSF, BIS and LSC Award for Smarter Procurement’ by Kevin Brennan MP, Minister of State for Further Education.

This award recognises imaginative ways in which colleges have managed their procurement activity, which contributes to re-investment in supporting students.

West Nottinghamshire College’s impressive and consistent approach to smarter procurement helped ensure it took the top prize.  The £5 million savings have been ploughed back into improving teaching resources, resulting in better facilities and helping to improve the retention of students.

One of the many ways the college has achieved sustainable savings and value has been through a procurement toolkit for staff. Working closely with suppliers has resulted in savings across a range of areas including printing, catering and transport costs.

Construction, logistics and building services students are just some of the many beneficiaries of this approach, with re-investment helping to fund the college’s state-of-the-art Construction and Logistics Skills Academy in Kirkby-in-Ashfield.  The £8.2 million academy boasts some of the best facilities in the sector including ‘lecturette’ areas where tutors mix theoretical teaching with hands-on practice.

The savings also helped create the college’s Ashfield Centre, which provides vocational programmes for teenagers that would otherwise not be in education, employment or training.

Further Education Minister Kevin Brennan said: “The AoC Beacon Awards celebrate the greatest successes of the Further Education sector in responding to the needs of students, local businesses and the communities they serve.  Colleges are vital to giving people the skills and qualifications they need and play an important role in creating partnerships with employers. It is right that these institutions are recognised for their hard work.”

Andrew Martin, deputy principal and finance director at West Nottinghamshire College, said:  “Public sector organisations have a duty to buy goods and services as efficiently as possible and our procurement team works hard to ensure we always achieve the best value while never compromising quality or standards.

“I’m proud we’ve been recognised as the best college in the sector for our sustainable efficiency savings which go straight back into providing students with the high-quality resources and facilities that will enable them to succeed.”

The UK-wide Beacon Awards provide national recognition for excellence and innovation as well as acknowledging the talents of staff at all levels. They highlight the breadth and quality of education in the college sector.

Awards chair, Dame Patricia Morgan-Webb, said: “Beacon winners blaze a trail in finding new ways of doing things; they contribute to social justice and are instrumental in local economic and social re-generation, which is essential during these turbulent times. Whilst the winners this year are located all across the UK, what they all share are the key traits of innovation, creativity, responsiveness and a collaborative approach. I am delighted on behalf of the AoC Charitable Trust to reward the contribution that these Colleges make; they are the pillars of our communities.”

West Nottinghamshire College will hold its own local celebration event on Wednesday March 3 (11am – 2pm) at its Derby Road site in Mansfield. This will include a keynote speech by Melinda Johnson, deputy director (commercial group) at the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DSCF).