OLDHAM COLLEGE is the first FE college in the UK to be awarded a Dyslexia Smart Award by the British Dyslexia Association (BDA).

Helen Boden, Chief Executive Officer of the BDA, presented the prestigious accolade today – the final day of Dyslexia Awareness Week 2019 – on a visit to our facilities where she learned more about our support for dyslexic employees and learners.

The BDA Smart Award recognises and promotes good practice for supporting the needs of dyslexic and neuro-diverse individuals.

Oldham College sought the accreditation as part of its drive to become the best place to work and learn – one that values the difference and diversity of individuals as an asset to the organisation.

To do this we have taken steps to ensure that dyslexic colleagues and learners feel valued, can achieve their potential, and have a pathway that is practical, straightforward and cost effective.

These include measures to raise awareness, identifying a dyslexia lead in college, taking proactive steps to help people who want support, and having a clear commitment to being engaged with the dyslexia community and up-to-date with key developments.

Alun Francis, Oldham College’s Principal and Chief Executive, said:

“We’re delighted and honoured to be recognised by the British Dyslexia Association for our work.”

“Becoming the first FE College in the UK to earn the Smart Award is a fantastic way to end Dyslexia Awareness Week – and it speaks volumes about our values, showing that we truly recognise the difference and diversity of all our staff and learners.

“Dyslexic students and employees make brilliant contributions to every part of Oldham College life and we’ve worked hard to make sure we are properly equipped to empower them through a range of resources including one-to-one support sessions, advice, assessments and reading aids.

“More than 100 of our learners took up this support in the last academic year and we’re aiming to do even more – and reach out to more people – in 2019/20.

“Diversity and inclusion are key strengths of Oldham College, but to truly become the best place to learn and work in our borough means we must lead by example like this - being proactive, open-minded and aware of the needs of ourselves and others.

“I want to congratulate and thank Liz Wilcox, our Programme Tutor for Dyslexia, for leading on this agenda, and all those other staff whose hard work and commitment has been vital to securing this Smart Award.”

Helen Boden, CEO of the BDA, added:


“This Smart Award shows Oldham College’s active commitment to diversity and inclusion and it is a pleasure to visit them and see their work in action.”

“Dyslexia is the single-largest neuro difference in the workplace today. Taking steps to value and support people, and raise awareness and understanding, is absolutely vital to helping people achieve everything that they possibly can both in education and life. 

“We hope many other FE colleges and institutions will follow Oldham College’s lead in working towards this recognition and contact us to find out more.”

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