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FE First Awards 2020

January 28, 2021

Our FE First Awards 2020 for college marketing excellence were made on 30th November in a virtual ceremony attended by all our shortlisted colleges – a very different event from the usual but great to bring colleagues together to celebrate all their hard work and amazing creativity and achievements.

Many congratulations to all our winners, and thanks to all our entrants, supporters and judges for their time and commitment to making the FE First Awards 2020 happen. Thanks also to Glued Ltd for their support of the presentation event.

The winners were:

Innovation & creativityHighly CommendedStamford College
 SilverBarton Peveril Sixth Form College
 GoldNorth Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College
Events managementHighly CommendedThe Bedford College Group
 SilverCity College Plymouth
 SilverMoulton College
 GoldBarnsley College
Digital and social media campaign, sponsored by Forward and ThinkingHighly CommendedBarton Peveril Sixth Form College
 SilverSouth Staffordshire College
 GoldNorth Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College
ProspectusHighly CommendedThe Henley College
 SilverHeart of Worcestershire College
 GoldStamford College
Targeted recruitment CampaignHighly CommendedBarton Peveril Sixth Form College
 SilverNorth Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College
 GoldThe Bedford College Group
Internal ImpactHighly CommendedHeart of Worcestershire College
Communications CampaignHighly CommendedLTE Group
 SilverThe Henley College
 GoldBarton Peveril Sixth Form College
Website Development projectSilverStamford College
 GoldMoulton College
Outstanding individual achievement in college marketingWinnerGeorge Robson, Barton Peveril Sixth Form College
Marketing Team of the Year 2020Highly CommendedThe Trafford College Group
 Highly CommendedNorth Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College
 SilverSouth Staffordshire College
 SilverBarton Peveril Sixth Form College
 GoldMoulton College
Best of  the Best 2020WinnerThe Bedford College Group

FE First Awards 2019 results

March 2, 2020

The FE First Awards 2019 were presented on Monday 2nd December by Ian Pryce CBE, Principal and CEO of the Bedford College Group at a dinner and ceremony at the Hilton Warwick. We were joined by annual conference delegates, friends and sponsors, and colleagues from across the college marketing sector to celebrate the achievements of college marketing teams around the country.

Our winners were:

Making effective use of research & data, sponsored by Pathways

Silver Capital City College Group



Events management

Gold The Bedford College Group

Silver Northampton College

Highly Commended Gower College Swansea

Highly Commended Barton Peveril Sixth Form College


Innovation & creativity,

Silver Solihull Sixth Form College

Highly Commended Barnsley College


Partnerships & collaboration

Gold LTE Group/The Manchester College

Silver Sunderland College


Social & digital media, sponsored by Akero

Gold Capital City College Group

Silver Barton Peveril Sixth Form College


Targeted recruitment Campaign

Gold The Manchester College

Silver Waltham Forest College

Highly Commended Sunderland Centre

Highly Commended The Bedford College Group


Communications Campaign

Gold Barnsley College

Silver Capital City College Group


Website Development project

Gold North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College

Silver Stratford-upon-Avon College/Solihull College & University Centre


Full-time Prospectus,

Gold Cambridge Regional College


Outstanding individual, sponsored by Forward and Thinking

Winner Jordan Powell, Sparsholt College Group incorporating Andover College


Marketing Team of the Year 2019, sponsored by AoC

Winner Barton Peveril Sixth Form College

Runner up North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College

32nd Annual Conference of The College Marketing Network

June 26, 2019

Our 32nd Annual Conference will be at the Hilton Hotel Warwick/Stratford-upon-Avon

Monday 2nd December 2019

Join us at our 32nd Annual Conference at the Hilton Hotel Warwick – celebrate the best in college marketing at our unmissable event of the year! Read more here

Programme and theme
This year, we’ll be aiming to examine colleges as a force and influence in the community – looking at the value of colleges economically, socially and aspirationally.  We’ll be talking about community links, ambition for our local communities, business and commercial links, apprenticeships and more – watch this page for updates over the next months. Meanwhile, DOWNLOAD THE CONFERENCE BROCHURE HERE

The programme will include a mix of plenary sessions for all delegates and a choice of skills-based, interactive  workshops. You can pre-book your workshop choices in advance if we receive your conference booking by 22nd November.

Great reasons to attend…
Meet colleagues, share good practice, update your skills and develop your own networks. College marketers have been attending our conference for over 30 years: here are just a few comments from past delegates:

  • “The CMN conference is a fantastic way to meet likeminded education marketing professionals from all over the country, compare notes, share insights and hear from some great speakers to share new ideas.”
  • “A very insightful day with some great take-aways which I shall be implementing on my return to work. Real world advice!”
  • “The conference is full of great tips and tricks to boost our marketing and comms activity.”
  • “A very informative day which has given me a lot of inspiration for future planning.”
  • “This is by far the most relevant, informative and useful conference for college marketing professionals I attend each year.”
  • “The conference was very well organised, with a range of speakers that related to our industry.”
  • “The conference was a great chance to think about my college’s marketing, away from the office, and pick up lots of tips and best practice from other colleges.”

Attendance options and booking


Delegate bookings can be made for the full conference with the dinner and awards evening plus B&B on Monday night, OR for the conference only (Monday day), OR for the conference, dinner and awards evening without B&B OR for the dinner and awards evening only. If you can only attend the conference for half a day, we can accommodate that too. If the option you want isn’t on the booking form, just contact us to discuss your requirements.

We can also book bed & breakfast accommodation for Sunday evening if you have to travel some distance – please add this option to your booking on the form.

Dinner and FE First Awards 2019 on Monday evening – included in a full conference booking (Option A)

PLUS – 10% discount for second or further delegates booked at the same rate. For example, book one full delegate place and receive 10% off a second full delegate place; OR book one Monday day delegate place and receive 10% off a second Monday day delegate place. Booking form shows the full prices for each option – take 10% off this published rate for your second or further places. Contact the CMN office on 01772 257833 to confirm any prices or to enquire further.

Complete and return the booking form with your PO number or cheque to reserve your place, or book via Eventbrite with a credit card (links will be published on the website at  – please take care when booking to choose the correct option.)

FE First Awards for marketing excellence 2019
Celebrating the best in college marketing – the FE First Awards 2019 will be presented at the conference dinner on Monday 2nd December (reception from 6.30pm), a “black tie optional” event at which delegates are joined by colleagues from around the country for an exciting celebration. Entry to the dinner and pre-dinner drinks reception is included in a full conference booking (Option A).

The EARLY BIRD BOOKING OPTION is available TO CMN MEMBER COLLEGES ONLY, offering reduced rates to confirmed bookings by 4th November 2019. We will not accept early bird bookings after this date, but the member rate remains significantly lower than the published non-member rate, and the discounts for second or further delegates still apply.

Early bird booking discounts for CMN members only!

The conference venue
Hilton Hotel Warwick/Stratford-upon-Avon is at Junction 15 M40, Stratford Road, Warwick, CV34 6RE.;

The College Marketing Network will make every effort to run the 32nd Annual Conference as advertised. In the unlikely event of circumstances making this impossible, we will endeavour to change location, dates or programme as required, or in the case of cancellation by us, will do our best to return all monies received, less any previously committed or unavoidable administration costs.

Twitter #CMNAC2019      @cmnoffice


FE First Awards 2019 for college marketing – deadline fast approaching!

May 30, 2019

Celebrating the best in college marketing

The FE First Awards 2019 are open for entries until Thursday 3rd October – get your entries in now! Don’t delay!

The Awards will be presented on Monday 2nd December at our Conference dinner and Awards evening, held as part of our 32nd Annual Conference at the Hilton Warwick/Stratford-upon-Avon.

This exciting event is always a highlight of the marketing year, as colleagues come together to celebrate all the hard work they’ve done over the year and to share the rewards of their creativity, inspiration and efforts. Join us in 2019 as an entrant to the FE FIrst Awards, and maybe also as a winner! You may not have entered the Awards before but plenty of first time entrants have won in the past.

Read more about the FE First Awards and what they mean to our winners here.

Each FE First Awards category has its own entry form, including a short list of questions showing the information we are looking for. PLEASE ENSURE YOU INCLUDE INFORMATION THAT ANSWERS ALL OF THESE QUESTIONS, and follow any other instructions – for example, make sure the aims for your project/campaign/publication are SMART ones (Smart, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound), and that you include some evaluation of how far they have been met.

You can download the entry forms to each category below.

The categories for FE First Awards 2019 are:

Starred awards are only open to colleges in membership of The College Marketing Network on 2nd December 2019. Other award categories are open to member and non-member colleges (different entry fees apply).

Entries will be accepted up to 1pm on Thursday 3rd October 2019, in either hard copy (3 copies to College Marketing Network, F16, Preston Technology Centre, Marsh Lane, Preston, PR1 8UQ) OR electronically to If sending submissions by email or file transfer, please ensure all appendices and collateral are also included and clearly numbered/identified.

You should also include:

Awards entry fees:

  • MEMBERS – £85 per category for the first 2 categories entered, or £70 per category if three or more are entered.
  • NON-MEMBERS – £120 for each category entered (or join the College Marketing Network before 1st September 2019 and pay the reduced members’ rate.)
  • VAT is not applicable to entry fees.
  • Remittance details available on request; cheques must be made payable to The College Marketing Network.

For more information:

CMN networking meeting for strategic marketers, 12th June, Solihull

May 13, 2019

This meeting is aimed at Heads of Marketing, Marketing Managers, Marketing Directors – anyone with an interest in marketing strategy or with strategic responsibilities.

It will offer a mix of speakers on strategic issues and time for round table discussions with your colleagues and peers on the strategic issues of the day and the topics most of concern to you.

Our speakers include: John Callaghan, Principal of Solihull College & University Centre with “An overview of the challenges facing FE (and you thought Brexit was complicated!)”. John will discuss a range of current and future issues facing the FE sector, from the rolling out of T-Levels, to funding and budget cuts, HE recruitment to community engagement, and how these may affect marketing teams.

Aaron Hussey, Head of Communications at AoC will look at how college marketing teams have made the #LoveOurColleges campaign a success so far, feature updates on next steps and give delegates the opportunity to share their thoughts on future plans.

Fiona Carthy, MD Carthy Communications (MComn, FCIM, MDipCIPR) will lead a workshop-style session looking at the strategic use of benchmarking, research and data analysis in college marketing. She says: As marketers it’s vitally important to be able to measure impact of our activity and to ensure our strategic decisions are underpinned by robust evidence. We need to profile our markets, understand what motivates them and use data to shape content and improve impact and return on investment.

“This session will explore the key research and data required to create a dynamic and realistic marketing strategy. It will outline how to establish benchmarks to track progress and how to build a system of monitoring and evaluation using a core range of metrics. We will create a framework and reporting structure that you can take away and use to improve engagement with your college executive to foster strategic support for marketing developments and investment.

“We will also discuss the challenges of establishing sector wide benchmarking that is meaningful and the options to resolve this.”

The day will also include plenty of round-table time for you to discuss strategic issues with your peers and colleagues, with the aim of helping you clarify ideas and priorities – and we hope you’ll inform our planning for the future too, so that CMN can support you better. Refreshments and buffet lunch included.

Book now with a PO number by emailing, or by credit card via Eventbrite

This meeting will run 10am – 3.30pm and the members’ rate is £85pp. Refreshments and buffet lunch included.

Venue: Solihull College & University Centre Conference Centre, Blossomfield Road, Solihull, B91 1SB

Cost: £85pp CMN member colleges; £155pp CMN non-member colleges
Book with a PO number by email to or by credit card via Eventbrite here for CMN member colleges and here for CMN non-member colleges

Privacy statement: Any personal information requested during the booking process will be used to confirm your place and update our records. A delegate list (name, job title and college) will be created and circulated to attendees on the day for their use only. If you do not wish your details to appear on the delegate list, please contact or indicate this on your booking. To view our full privacy policy, go to

Recruitment focus for our next networking meeting in Oxford

March 13, 2019

Our next networking meeting is at City of Oxford College on 10th April, where our focus is on recruitment issues.

If you’ve been to one of our networking meetings before, you’ll know that they are invaluable for meeting colleagues, exchanging ideas and experiences, and making contacts – as well as hearing from fellow marketers and external speakers on a wide range of topics. Lunch and refreshments are included – and you have the chance to see another college!

Our programme includes:

10.15am Arrival, registration and coffee for a 10.30am start.

10.30 Introductions and welcome  

Sean Howitt, Marketing Manager, Solihull College & University Centre
HE recruitment in an increasingly competitive market
Despite the increase in unconditional offers from local universities, Solihull College & University Centre achieved a 61% increase in HE applications over the previous year. This session will explore the range of promotional tools the College used as part of its HE campaign.


11.15 Stephen Lockhart & Tim Ketterer, Float New Media and Suzi Lawrence, Head of recruitment & Marketing, Buxton & Leek College
Using Labour Market Information to create better informed applicants.
Using high-quality and contextual LMI in your course pages not only demonstrates clear progression routes from your courses, but also informs prospective students and their parents of the future demand for jobs in their area.

In our session we will discuss ways to support your applicants in making well-informed decisions to ensure they choose a course that sets them on the right path.

We will be joined by Suzi Lawrence from Buxton & Leek College who will offer insight into their experiences of using our Pathways LMI tool, including referencing their recent Ofsted Inspection and how it has helped their students be better informed.

12.00 Round-table discussion time for your topics

12.30 Lunch and networking

Lee Parker, Head of Marketing, Milton Keynes College
Developing and testing personas and how they can influence your marketing mix
This session will look in detail at how MK College developed personas, how they were tested to ensure they represented a true reflection of their prospective students and how this information can be used to influence your entire student recruitment and reputation strategy.

The day will end by 2.00pm. Timings are given for guidance and may be subject to change.

Venue: City of Oxford College, Oxpens Road, Oxford, OX1 1SA

To book, go to and choose either the PO or Eventbrite booking option.

£35pp (CMN member colleges) or £95pp (CMN non-member colleges). If you are not sure if your college is a member, contact 10772 257833.

Happy Christmas to all our members

December 17, 2018

Wishing all our members a very happy Christmas and New Year – hope you all have a great break!

FE First Awards for college marketing 2018

December 13, 2018

The FE First Awards 2018 for college marketing excellence awards were made on Monday 26th November as part of our Annual Conference at the Hilton Warwick.

The awards were made by Jo Maher, Principal & Chief Executive of Boston College. The full list of winners is:

Internal impact Gold Cambridge Regional College
Highly Commended North Kent College
Making effective use of research & data, sponsored by Pathways Silver West London College
Highly Commended Bedford College
Highly Commended Plumpton College
Events management Gold Solihull College and University Centre
Highly Commended Shrewsbury College
Highly Commended Telford College
Innovation & creativity, sponsored by Itineris Gold North Kent College
  Silver Stockport College
Partnerships & collaboration Gold Truro and Penwith College
Silver West London College
Social & digital media, sponsored by Forward and Thinking Gold Barnet & Southgate College
Targeted recruitment Campaign Gold West London College
Silver Milton Keynes College
Highly Commended Solihull College and University Centre
Highly Commended Truro and Penwith College
Communications Gold Truro and Penwith College
Full-time Prospectus, sponsored by Aston University Silver Barnsley College
Highly Commended Exeter College
Outstanding individual Gold Katie Featherstone, Bedford College
  Silver Bethh Oliver, Barnsley College
Marketing Team of the Year 2018, sponsored by AoC Gold Bradford College
Silver Exeter College
Highly Commended Capital City College Group

Congratulations to all our winners, and thank you to all our entrants, judges and sponsors for their support.

CMN 31st ANNUAL CONFERENCE 2018 – 26 November at Hilton Warwick

October 11, 2018


Rob Masson of the DPO Centre was a hit at last year’s conference with his plenary on preparing for GDPR – now he’s back to look at the topic many of you have been discussing on JISCmail and at our networking meetings.

Don’t delay, book today, and join in celebrating the best in college marketing in 2018. To download the booking form and brochure or for more details, go to – and if you want to discuss costs and options, give us a call at 01772 257833 or by email at


BOOK NOW to claim the CMN members’ early bird rate for the conference at

Brochure and booking form now available for download from the website.

Other speakers and topics to include:

  • Dr Julie Mills, Principal & CEO, Milton Keynes College – marketing as a force for good in our community
  • Tracy Playle, CEO, Pickle Jar Communications – developing an empathy-led approach to your digital engagement strategy
  • Emma Leech, Director of Marketing, University of Loughborough – content clout, the power of PR and how to do more with less


  • Stephen Lockhart & Tim Ketterer, Pathways by Float New Media Design – Using LMI to engage prospective students
  • Samantha MacKay, Marketing Manager, Guildford College & Alex Vinall, Founder & MD, Air Social – Facebook advertising for open day promotion
  • Darren Gallagher, Deputy Head of Marketing & Communications, Exeter College – Creating an engaging content plan and turning the story into content in the digital age
  • Lee Parker, Head of Marketing, Milton Keynes College – Moving from an advertising to a content strategy
  • Rachel Till, Owner, Extend PR & Marketing – 5 quick wins for digital PR in colleges
  • Tom Bower, Marketing Manager, Telford College – Making the most of rebranding and repositioning post-Area review
  • Ben Duhig, Managing Director, Blue Soup Ltd – Improving web user experience and digital optimisation
  • Jane Williams, Group Head of Marketing, Chichester College Group – A practical guide to the marketing aspect of merger
  • Chris Barcroft, Head of Digital, Lesniak Swann – How to set up PPC campaigns

Exhibitors will include Forward and Thinking, Air Social, One Voice Digital and Pathways by Float New Media Design.

Here’s what you said about Conference 2017:

“This is by far the most relevant, informative and useful conference for college marketing professionals I attend each year.”

“The conference was a great chance to think about my college’s marketing, away from the office, and pick up lots of tips and best practice from other colleges.”

“The conference is a great way to discuss current issues with those in the same situation. It allows you to take a step back and think.”

“Excellent content and structure – well worth attending. Great networking opportunity too!”

Countdown to the FE First Awards 2018 – two more weeks to enter!

September 13, 2018

2 weeks to get your entries in for the FE First Awards 2018 for college marketing excellence. Open to FE, sixth form and specialist colleges in the UK – with big discounts on entries for CMN members and categories only open to members. Closing deadline: 27th September for hard copy and online entries.

The categories for the FE First Awards 2018 are:

  • Partnerships & collaboration
  • Internal impact
  • Making effective use of research & data, sponsored by Pathways
  • Events management
  • Social & digital media impact, sponsored by Forward and Thinking
  • Website development
  • Innovation & creativity
  • Communications campaign
  • Targeted recruitment campaign
  • Prospectus, sponsored by Aston University
  • Individual award*
  • Marketing team of the year*, sponsored by AoC
  • Lifetime achievement*

* These three categories are only open to colleges in current membership of the College Marketing Network at the time of the award on Monday 26th November 2018.

Entering the FE First Awards
We’ve taken your advice in updating the categories this year, and we’ve simplified the submission forms, to make the awards as relevant and easy to enter as possible.

  • Download the relevant submission forms from the links above to our website at for the categories you want to enter;
  • Download the FE First Awards brochure and interactive entry form here (please include the entry form with your submission)
  • Deadline for entries, Thursday 27th September 2018 at 1pm. Incomplete or late entries cannot be accepted.
  • Fees: £80 per entry for CMN members for the first two categories entered; £70 per category if 3 or more categories are entered. £115 per category for non-CMN member colleges – or join by 1st September 2018 and pay the member rates. More information and how to join here. A PO or cheque must be included with your entry.
  • Entries should be sent either by email to, or in hard copy to The College Marketing Network, F16 Preston Technology Centre, Marsh Lane, Preston, PR1 8UQ.

Why enter the FE First Awards?

“Winning Gold for the ‘Website Development Project’ category in 2017 was an incredible moment for our team. This project was a huge undertaking and having our hard work recognised by our peers and the FE sector’s elite was a huge honour. The high praise we received from the judges has acted as a real spur for us to think bigger and achieve more, and has given us greater confidence in our own abilities – as well as the credentials to back it up!”

Louise Greenleaf City College Plymouth