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Colleges that listen to the views of students provide their learners with a better experience of education.

This is recognised in Further Education by the Centre for Excellence in Leadership (CEL) and it has cited the College of North East London (CONEL) as being one of the best in the country for listening to students.

More than 120 learners attended the first Leading the Learner Voice Awards ceremony in London on July 4th, presented by education minister, Bill Rammell. The awards were established by CEL to recognise the work on this agenda in Further Education.

CEL received a huge number of submissions for the awards and CONEL was one of five colleges short-listed in the category for Representative Organisation of the Year. It was won by Bridge College, which provides education and training for students with complex learning difficulties or disabilities. But CONEL achieved a close runner-up. "It was a very exciting climax to the event" said Howard Jeffrey, "We were informed after the presentation that it was a very close decision." Howard was accompanied to the awards by Student Liaison Officer, Karlene Sutherland, and students, Roxanne Woolcock and Muruvet Oz. "We are delighted to have achieved this recognition of our work" Howard said.

Congratulating the winners at the ceremony, education minister Bill Rammell said, "I am extremely committed to the learner voice agenda; it really does change lives, and I wouldn't be where I am today if I hadn't had the opportunity of being a student representative when I was younger. Congratulations to everyone here for your efforts to embed the concept in your college."

Kat Fletcher of CEL, who is a former president of the National Union of Students, said, "Both the Foster review and the further education white paper acknowledged the need to involve learners in their educational experience. We are working with the National Union of Students to promote the learner voice and encourage effective collaboration between student learners and sector leaders and managers. These annual awards celebrate the best examples of leadership in recognising and promoting the learner voice, and we will disseminate these examples, so that leaders can learn and develop from the process."

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