Categories & criteria

Lifetime achievement

This award will be given to the individual who, in the opinion of the judging panel, deserves to be honoured for his or her contribution to further education above and beyond their own academic interests. Institutions and individuals are welcome to submit nominations for consideration. 


Teacher of the year

This award seeks to reward the individual whose passion, knowledge and skill have inspired students to success, and who has made a major contribution to educational life. It is open to all UK further education institutions, including colleges, training providers, employer providers and adult and community learning providers. Up to two members of staff can be nominated from any one institution. In your entry:   

  • Give evidence of excellent impact on learners’ progress, attainment and growth
  • Explain how this teacher has brought about positive change beyond his/her own learners
  • Describe how does this teacher demonstrates commitment and achievement in his/her own professional development

This award is open to anyone working as a teacher, tutor or lecturer in the FE sector. Colleague and student testimonials will be welcomed – maximum of four 


Employer engagement

This award recognises strategic and innovative approaches to delivering employers' workforce development needs. It covers the year 2016-17 and is open to all further education providers in the UK. In your entry:   

  • Describe any new ways you have developed working with employers
  • Provide evidence of your high-quality, flexible provision and show how it is responsive to employer and employee needs
  • Explain how you have ensured that the staff who delivered this programme were up to date and had relevant business experience
  • Explain the positive impacts on the businesses you work with  

Outstanding use of technology for improving teaching, learning and assessment

This award will recognise and reward an FE provider that has demonstrated an innovative, strategic and far-reaching use of technology in support of their institutional goals. The judges will be looking in particular for evidence of the contribution of the individuals involved, how they gained support within their institution, overcame challenges and brought about real change with a significant impact. In your entry:  

  • Describe the background to and context of your entry
  • Outline the form the initiative takes, how it works and why it is innovative and effective
  • Detail how the individuals involved contributed to the success of the initiative
  • Explain how you built awareness of what you were doing 

Assessor of the year   

This award seeks to reward an assessor whose passion, knowledge and skill has inspired apprentices to success and who has made a major contribution to educational life. It is open to people working in all UK further education institutions, including colleges and training providers. Up to two members of staff can be nominated from any one institution. In your entry:  

  • Give evidence of excellent impact on learners’ progress, attainment and growth, plus benefit to the employer where appropriate
  • Explain how this assessor has brought about positive change beyond his/her own learners
  • Describe how this assessor demonstrates commitment and achievement in his/her own professional development 
  • This award is open to anyone working as an assessor in the FE sector

Testimonials will be welcomed – maximum of four  


Professional services team of the year

This award recognises the administrative and professional services teams working behind the scenes at colleges and FE providers. It covers the year 2016-17 and is open to all further education providers in the UK. In your entry:   

  • Explain how a specific team achieved or exceeded its objectives 
  • Include supporting evidence, where available, to demonstrate clearly the contribution of the team in achieving those objectives 
  • Outline how the team supported the wider aims of the organisation, and worked collaboratively with other teams and individuals, inside and outside the organisation
  • Explain how your team's work improves on standard practice in the sector, and enhances the performance of your organisation as a whole
  • Outline how the team supports the organisation’s mission and values by putting learners’ needs at the core of service design and delivery

Best teaching and learning initiative

This award recognises a team or teams that have launched exceptional ideas to improve the quality of teaching or learning.  The initiative or initiatives should be carried out jointly between departments and evidence of shared ownership should be provided.  The award covers the year 2016-17 and is open to all further education providers in the UK. In your entry:  

  • Describe what your team has done and how this has had a major impact on learning and teaching
  • Outline what makes it unique and innovative
  • Explain the nature of your initiative and the challenges involved
  • Describe the results. Provide evidence of demonstrable progress or success
  • Suggest what impact could be if your initiative was adopted more widely 
  • Examples of inter-departmental collaboration should be provided
  • Outline the key points of your best practice that you would like to share with the sector

Contribution to the local community

This award recognises the individual, team or FE provider that has made the most impact in supporting the community socially, culturally or economically. It covers the year 2016-17 and is open to all further education providers in the UK. In your entry:  

  • Describe the background to and context of your initiative
  • Explain the nature of the work, and the challenges involved
  • Provide evidence of demonstrable impact
  • Show how the project has supported the target community to sustain the impact
  • Outline how staff and students contributed to the success of the project and what they gained from the experience

Judges are particularly keen to hear about projects working to achieve social inclusion and diversity through outreach to work with communities that are disengaged from education


FE leader of the year

This award recognises exceptional leadership in FE in the UK for the year 2016-17. As previous short-listed candidates demonstrate, leadership includes, but is not confined to, institutional leadership and extends beyond and below the CEO.

Nominations from staff, boards/trustees and/or stakeholders should make clear what characterises the exceptional achievement with particular emphasis on impact. Judges welcome, in particular, robust independent testimonials in support of the nomination.


Overall FE provider of the year

This will be awarded to the provider that has demonstrated exceptional performance in the past academic year. It covers the year 2016-17 and will be chosen from the winners of the Training Provider of the Year, College of the Year, Specialist provider of the year, Adult and community learning provider of the year and Sixth form college of the year categories. 

Although teaching, student achievement and business performance will be taken into account, the main criterion will be evidence of particular bold, imaginative and innovative initiatives that have advanced your reputation over the last year.   


Support for learners

This award will be given to the FE Provider that helps students gain the maximum benefit from their time at the college or learning provider. In your entry: 

  • Describe the background to and context of a specific initiative to support students
  • Explain the nature of the support package, detail how it works, and explain why it is original and effective
  • Outline the results. Have you attracted more students? Have achievement or retention rates increased? How were the measures received by student bodies? Provide evidence of demonstrable progress or success including more than one year’s statistics where possible
  • Outline your principal achievements during the year 2016-17
  • Summarise in no more than 500 words what you were trying to achieve, how you set about achieving it and how you plan to monitor the impact of the initiative

Training Provider of the Year   

This will be awarded to the provider that has demonstrated exceptional performance in the past academic year. It covers the year 2016-17 and is open to all independent training providers. High quality teaching and learning, learner achievement and business performance are important factors. The main criterion will be evidence of particular bold, imaginative and innovative initiatives that have advanced your reputation and performance over the last year. In your entry:      

  • Explain how you evaluate and develop your provider’s professional progress with regard to teaching, learning and assessment
  • Describe how your engagement with students has impacted positively in and beyond your institution. If applicable explain how it has had an effect beyond your own institution.
  • Outline how your college has made a significant and distinctive contribution to your local economy and wider community

Judges will be looking for evidence of sustained commitment to advancing and positively influencing the student experience. Testimonials from students and employers will be welcomed    


FE College of the year

This award seeks to reward the colleges whose imagination and passion have led to stellar provision in all areas. We are looking for evidence of excellence in providing a high-quality curriculum with excellent student outcomes, reflected in strong recruitment and success rates. The award is open to all UK further education colleges, including land-based colleges. In your entry:   

  • Explain how you evaluate and develop your college’s professional progress with regard to teaching, learning and assessment
  • Describe how your engagement with students has impacted positively in and beyond your institution. If applicable explain how it has had an effect beyond your own institution
  • Outline how has your college has made a significant and distinctive contribution to your local economy and wider community

Judges will be looking for evidence of sustained commitment to advancing and positively influencing the student experience. Testimonials from students and employers will be welcomed 


Apprenticeship programme of the year

 This award recognises strategic and innovative approaches to delivering apprenticeships, and the work being done to access new groups of potential apprentices and support them as they start their careers. It covers the year 2016-17 and is open to all apprenticeship providers in the UK including employer providers. In your entry:   

  • Describe any new ways you have developed working with employers or, in the case of employer providers, the main workforce
  • Provide evidence of how your programme meets the standards and the employers’ requirements. Show how it is responsive to employer and employee needs
  • Explain how you have developed the route into your programme, including how diversity has been addressed
  • Explain the positive impacts of your provision on the businesses you work with

Sixth form college of the year

This is a new award which seeks to recognise sixth form colleges which best epitomise the qualities which make the sector so distinctive. We are looking for evidence of excellence in 16-18 education across the board, in terms of the quality of teaching and learning as well as outcomes. We also want to see evidence of reaching out to other institutions and a commitment to sharing good practice and raising achievement more widely. The award is open to all designated sixth form colleges in England, including incorporated colleges and former incorporated colleges which have converted, of are in the process of converting to, academy status. In your entry:   

  • Demonstrate consistently strong outcomes: using success rate, progression, value added and other measures
  • Demonstrate teaching and learning practices which are particularly effective and innovative
  • Demonstrate a commitment to disseminating good practice which has had a positive impact beyond your own institution
  • Case studies will be welcomed but submissions need to demonstrate that they exemplify qualities which are common, rather than exceptional, in the college

Specialist provider of the year

 This award seeks to reward the specialist providers whose imagination and passion have led to stellar provision and support for SEND student and those with specific leaning requirements. We are looking for evidence of excellence in providing a high-quality curriculum with excellent student outcomes, reflected in strong recruitment and success rates. It is open to all specialist colleges and providers, and specialist units housed within colleges and learning centers. 

  • Explain how you evaluate and develop your institution’s professional progress with regard to teaching, learning and assessment.
  • How has your engagement with students and parents impacted positively in and beyond your work? If applicable explain how it has had an effect beyond your own institution.
  • How has your provider made a significant and distinctive contribution to your local economy and wider community?

Judges will be looking for evidence of sustained commitment to advancing and positively influencing the student experience. Testimonials from students and employers will be welcomed 


Adult and community learning provider of the year

This award seeks to reward the adult community learning providers whose imagination and passion have led to responsive provision. We are looking for evidence of excellence in providing a high-quality curriculum with excellent student outcomes, reflected in strong recruitment and success rates. It is open to all ACL providers, including institutes for learning (specialist designated institutions) and  adult educational charities.

  • Explain how you work with your community to ensure your offer is relevant and responsive. Give examples
  • How do you evaluate and develop your institution’s professional progress with regard to teaching, learning and assessment.
  • How has your engagement with students impacted positively in and beyond your institution? If applicable explain how it has had an effect beyond your own institution.
  • How has your provider made a significant and distinctive contribution to your local community?

Judges will be looking for evidence of sustained commitment to advancing and positively influencing the student experience. Testimonials from students, community representatives and employers will be welcomed    



Giving FE's finest the recognition they deserve.

Photos from the 2017 Tes FE Awards.

The winners will be revealed on Friday 23 February 2018 at the Grosvenor House Hotel.

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