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Our “Excellence in Supporting Creativity” winner at the AoC Beacon Awards 2022

AoC Beacon Awards 2022

Grimsby Institute of Further and Higher Education has become the first recipient of CLA’s Excellence in Supporting Creativity at this year’s AoC Beacon Awards.

The Annual AoC Beacon Awards hosted by the Association of Colleges showcase best practices in the UK’s Further Education sector. CLA proudly sponsors an award dedicated to equipping students with the skills and knowledge they need to become confident creatives.

At the heart of GIFHE’s application was their ‘creative campus’ signage. Every area of the campus is seen as a creative learning space, and all curriculum areas are encouraged to create stimulating and engaging campus spaces.  Students are actively involved in generating ideas for campus aesthetics and messaging and are often involved in the actual production process.  Throughout the virtual visit to Grimsby Institute early this year, it was clear that the initiative has had an enormously positive impact.  From subject specialist skills to curriculum knowledge, mental health & well-being to college pride, the creative campus helps to inspire and motivate GIFHE learners.

But how does all this relate to supporting creativity in terms of intellectual property (IP) and copyright?

From discussions with learners, it was clear that the creative campus means conversations about copyright permeate every curriculum area. For example, a student ambassador studying Travel and Tourism was able to comment on permissions and IP because of his involvement with campus signage; college displays clearly accredit third-party content and make the permissions obtained clear; and learners whose artwork has been used for campus signage reported that they’d been approached for their permission – just like ‘professional artists’.  These measures act as small but consistent and profound reminders about the role of IP in everyday college life, for every college member.

It was clear that the creative campus initiative brings copyright and IP to life for the students we met – they said they felt better equipped to protect their IP in employment and understand the value of their – and others – work.

Tutors we spoke to were mindful that learners need to be ‘real-world ready’ – that students might arrive at the college knowing how to make a video that they could put music to, that it might get lots of likes, but that to work in the creative industries, the outputs need to be cleared in copyright terms.  GIFHE is clearly dedicated to marrying talent and skill with knowledge and vigilance.

Learners are given access to real-world creative experts and products.  Working with existing brands highlights in a tangible way copyright and IP permissions.  The creative campus signage lets learners see first-hand the process of seeking permission, and this in turn leads to valuable learning points and even ongoing partnerships between the college and third parties such as the NHS and Highways Agency.

From CLA’s point of view, what crystalised the impact of all GIFHE’s work was a discussion with a former student – now an apprentice at the BBC.  They were emphatic that their course at GIFHE had given them all the fundamental tools to understand IP and permissions.  When asked to edit footage for a programme, they knew what was and wasn’t feasible in terms of background signs and branding.  They’ve been able to hit the ground running in their role and have a clear sense of permissions in TV broadcasting.  What greater testament to GIFHE’s work, than to know that their learners are going on to become such vital and responsible cogs in the creative industries?

Emma Forrest-Leigh, Vice Principal at Grimsby Institute of Further and Higher Education reflects on the AoC Beacon Awards success:

At the Grimsby Institute we understand that the spaces you learn and work in can affect the way you feel, the way you learn and subsequently the way you succeed. Across the campus we use our signage to deliver some crucial information, and by applying creativity we aim to reach a wider audience through commanding graphics that engage hearts and minds. As a creative team, working hand in hand with informed, well-educated and subsequently work ready students, we are really proud of what we have achieved and having this national recognition is the icing on the cake. Creativity is a special spark that can enrich us all, and is to be nurtured and encouraged. If we can inspire others to harness creativity to enrich their spaces and signage, then we have a legacy to be proud of.