Newcastle College, a division of national college group NCG, has been awarded the prestigious Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education, in recognition for its outstanding commitment to vocational training through its Transport Academy.
The prize forms part of the national honours system and is the highest major honour that can be awarded to a UK college or university. It is the most significant form of national recognition open to a UK academic or vocational institution.
Newcastle College was awarded the prize for the development of its Transport Academy, comprising Aviation and Rail Centres, both of which are aligned to economic and sector needs. The concept was established in 2006, having identified the importance of employer collaboration to train individuals with the relevant skills required by industry.
The award recognised the College’s vision and in particular the collaboration with industry to ensure that the qualifications and learning environments in both facilities align to employer demand.
NCG Chief Executive, Joe Docherty said: “This is a fantastic achievement and to be awarded a Queen’s Award is something we should be very proud of. Newcastle College’s Transport Academy is the result of a long-term strategy which aims to support the transport infrastructure of not only the North East but the wider economy.”
The College’s Aviation Academy, built in 2006, is positioned at the heart of the North East aviation industry at Newcastle International Airport. The Rail Academy followed in 2014 and was purpose-built in Gateshead, adjacent to a major rail interchange.
Key to the success of both academies are long-standing relationships with employers and industry bodies. The Aviation Academy is approved by the UK Civil Aviation Authority and enjoys a partnership with the Royal Aeronautical Society, Newcastle International Airport and the Institute of Engineering and Technology amongst others. Similarly, the Rail Academy was initiated with the backing of Network Rail and now works closely with Cross Country Trains and the National Skills Academy for Rail.
Joe continued: “In order to make the Transport Academy a success we had to ensure that we recruited the right individuals with strong industry backgrounds to drive this vision forward. Both academies are made up of teaching and support teams that have a vast amount of experience in their respective fields.
“By doing this we have been able to position each Academy at the heart of industry to ensure that those trained within each facility are able to pursue employment opportunities on completion of their college course.”
Tim Jacklin, Head of Aviation at Newcastle College Aviation Academy spent over 28 years in the Royal Air Force as an avionic engineer. Tim now leads a team that possess a wealth of aviation experience, from ex-military personnel to aviation operations experts.
Tim said: “The teaching team fully integrate their experiences of real life working environments into their teaching sessions. These are vital aspects that bring the theory to life and contribute heavily to the overall success of our Academy.
“The levels of experience, drive, enthusiasm and close teamwork skills that this team possess is impressive. The Queen’s Award is a testament to the team of experts we have here at the Academy.”
The Rail Academy model is based on the success of the Aviation Academy. At the helm of the Academy is Scott Johnson who has over 15 years’ experience in the rail industry in various technical, training and management roles.
Scott said: “Key to the success of our Rail Academy is our close links we forge with industry. Employers are at the heart of everything we do, from providing work opportunities to our learners to informing our curriculum.
“Our aim at the Rail Academy is to be the North of England and Scotland gateway for rail engineering, employment and skills. To be awarded such an accolade within three years of opening our doors is a remarkable achievement for all those involved with our Academy.”
The Queen’s Anniversary Prize is a biennial award scheme where selection process is overseen by the Awards Council of the Trust, who make the final recommendations that are submitted to the Prime Minister for advice to The Queen.
The Prize will be formally presented to the College and students from the Transport Academy at Buckingham Palace in February 2018.