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Double award honours for Weston College and leading Principal Dr Paul Phillips

Weston College has scooped two top national awards – Principal Dr Paul Phillips won the FE Leader of the Year at the annual Tes FE Awards, while a college-wide transformation programme to enhance the mental health, wellbeing and welfare of its learners, staff and community won an Association of Colleges (AoC) Beacon Award.

Now in its 24th year, the AoC Beacon Awards showcase best practice and innovation in colleges. They are designed to promote the interdependence of colleges, businesses and professional and voluntary organisations. The awards also highlight excellence and help share best practice across the sector.

Dr Paul Phillips (centre) is presented with the FE Leader of the Year Award.

Weston College picked up the Beacon Award for developing sustainable community partnerships and peer networks to maximise engagement and minimise isolation to improve staff and students’ morale and wellbeing.

The judges were impressed by the college’s commitment to creating an ethos which puts mental health, wellbeing and welfare at the forefront of college investment to achieve its mission of creating brighter futures for all its staff and students regardless of their starting point in life.

Dr Paul, Principal and Chief Executive of Weston College, said: “This is a fantastic achievement for the College in such an important policy area, where we are delivering real impact for our students and staff.”

Judges also commented on the cross-College holistic approach to mental health and well-being that was demonstrated by the College and said that had really set them apart from everyone else.

David Hughes, Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges, said: “Each year the standard of entries is extremely high and this year was no exception. This made 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. Weston College should be proud of their award.”

For the first time, The AoC Beacon Awards and the Tes FE Awards were presented alongside each other at the annual TES FE Awards ceremony in London on Friday 22 March 2019.

As well as the AoC Beacon Award, Dr Paul was presented with the Tes FE Leader of the Year Award for the proven impact of his leadership during his 18 years at the helm of the College.

He has seen turnover at the College increase from £9 million when he joined in 2001 to more than £63 million in 2016-17 – making it one of the 10 biggest colleges in England.

Last year, the college was awarded a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for its inclusive practice for pupils with special educational needs or disabilities (SEND). The college was also the first to open a specialist autism residential training facility.

Under his leadership, the College has had a major impact on Weston-super-Mare, including the restoration of the 1920s Winter Gardens Pavilion and its ballroom for community use, building a new Law and Professional Services Academy and opening the University Centre Weston in 2016.

Dr Paul has also been committed to sharing best practice across the sector and has helped other colleges with everything from strategic planning to recovery plans and health and safety reviews. In 2017, he was made one of the first National Leaders in Further Education.

The judges said: “Dr Phillips gets results and has been truly transformative in the area.”

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