Hull College win Beacon award for effective use of digital technology in FE

A huge congratulations to Hull College for winning the Beacon award for effective use of digital technology in Further Education (FE).

The award is sponsored by Jisc as part of the 2023/2024 Beacon Awards run by the Association of Colleges. The awards celebrate the best and most innovative practice among FE colleges in the UK.

Hull College won the award for their exceptional work in supporting refugees and asylum seekers in FE education. They are demonstrating how the integration of digital tools can significantly enhance opportunities for individuals adapting to English language and culture while navigating their new lives.

Hull College staff accepting the Beacon award for effective use of digital technology in FE.

Hull College accept the Beacon award for effective use of digital technology in FE.

English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) teaching and learning is a key step towards helping people gain English language skills and integrate into the UK workforce.

As the need for ESOL learning continues to grow, Hull College identified the importance of addressing individual learner needs in multilingual classes. The challenge faced by teachers is how to effectively deliver vocational/technical subjects with simultaneous translation to mixed cohorts, making ESOL agile and inclusive.

Hull College’s project trialed Microsoft Translate to explore whether it can support live translation for ESOL and vocational courses in multiple languages, simultaneously, to increase the pace of lessons and reduce the time to competence for ESOL learners.

Male College students using a laptop to learn.

The College found that the implementation of Microsoft Translate has removed language barriers and empowered over 1,000 ESOL students to successfully engage in education and access key services. The technology is also helping students integrate into college life, enhancing their sense of belonging.

Since using the technology in their ESOL lessons, Hull College have found that attendance has improved dramatically from 65% to 91.5%. Hull College said that 20% of their employed ESOL learners received a pay rise and 5% have been able to move into paid employment. The project is evidently supporting learners to gain vital skills for work.

Deborah Millar, Executive Director of Digital Transformation at Hull College, said in an article for Jisc:

“Embracing Microsoft Translate in the realm of education may not be a particularly ground-breaking concept, - it's just understanding how to use the right tools for the right reason at the right time for the right purpose - but the results we have seen have been truly remarkable.

“We want to pass on what we’ve learned to other further education colleges to show how technology can transform teaching, learning and assessments for students and staff. If we can do this in Hull, the fourth most deprived local authority in England, then anyone can.”

Ufi supported Hull College’s project as part of the VocTech Activate 2023 grant fund. The grant fund provides a supportive environment to scope and test early-stage ideas, helping to prototype designs and work out the next steps necessary on the journey to long-term success.

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