Aberdeen College swept the board this week in the first Further Education Annual Report Awards, winning Best Design Category and Best Overall Report Award.
Hammersmith and West London College and Oldham College won commendations in the best overall report section and Hereward College in Coventry won a commendation for the best report from a small college, though the main prize in this catagory was not awarded.
The awards are sponsored by LASER Advisory Council (an independent educational charity) in association with KPMG and The THES. This is the first year the competition has taken place for further education, though KPMG and The THES have long sponsored annual report awards for higher education institutions.
Seventy colleges entered their reports. These varied widely in content and style. Quality usually came from having a clear message and a crisp style along with a sense of pleasure and pride in what was being achieved and a clear sense of the college's particular character. "A great warmth and verve came through many of the reports, sometimes from colleges facing difficult circumstances," said LASER's chief executive, Laurie South.
On a more critical note, the judges found the handling of statistical information patchy; it was not always easy to find a contact name, address and telephone number and there were too many design gimmicks.
Aberdeen's report had a consistent style and message, comprehensive information and good graphics. The judges were impressed that the design was done in-house.
"It is not our purpose to encourage colleges to spend vast amounts on posh design and printing. We were more interested in clarity, character and coherence," Auriol Stevens, editor of The THES, said when presenting the awards at LASER's annual garden party in London on Wednesday.
Aberdeen wins free expert consultancy from KPMG.