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We Are The AAT Champions!

Accountancy Learning – winners of the 2018 AAT Champion Award

Freddie Mercury…oh how we love you…to have created a song that so brilliantly captured how the Accountancy Learning team felt at the awards ceremony and even now while I write this, the very famous Queen song rings in my ears as a solid reminder of a wonderful achievement.

Yes, for a second year running Accountancy Learning were awarded AAT Champions of the year!

What a year to join Accountancy Learning! Having researched the AL team before my interview, I understood the team to be passionate advocates for the AAT, promoting the strengths and opportunities a successfully gained qualification can give to a student (of which I myself have felt the benefits!). This was one of the main reasons I joined so I could be part of a team who truly believe in the AAT while really caring for students, responding to their individual needs in a bespoke, considered manner. Yet here I was, sat celebrating with the very team I had so hoped to join…raising a glass in pure joy!

The awards ceremony was part of the AAT Conference which is an important annual event in the AL calendar. A lot of hard work and preparation occurs throughout the year. However a huge thanks goes out to Prue who dedicated many hours to ensure an (award winning!) application was submitted to the AAT.

The conference itself started on a bleary eyed early morning. We all jumped into a mini bus expertly driven by Simon, with Prue as the co-pilot. While a small number of the team heroically stayed in Exeter to man the fort, the rest of us (a mixture of the operations and tutor team) spent the journey chatting away, swapping sweets (essential for any long car journey!!)  Generally feeling excited about the conference.

We arrived close to lunch time (excellent timing Simon!) so the first session was spent networking with other distance learner providers and generally filling our bellies with sandwiches because we all knew we had to be sharp for the afternoons sessions.

My first networking was with our very own tutor Pat. We had chatted extensively by emails and over video chat however we hadn’t actually met in person so we nattered away about various new tutor top tips and swapped various news stories. I then bumped into Wendy Carr from Carlisle College (a new connection for me) we chatted about the categories we had been shortlisted for, she mentioned her college had nominated their apprentice for Apprentice of the Year Award, of which later they were to win! Well done Wendy and the team!

Chatting away, time soon flew by and I headed into my first session “Delivering AQ2016” for new staff members. It was in this session that I met our very own Marc who is a new staff member on the apprenticeship scheme. After having a brief chat with Marc and generally welcoming him into the team, we settled in and listened to an engaging session about overcoming challenges with rolling out AQ2016.  Being in the room with a number of wide eyed new tutors highlighted to me that “I am not in this alone”, and I came out of the session feeling very supported as I navigate the new world of tutorship!

The next sessions soon whizzed by. However the highlight of the day was a presentation in the main theatre entitled “The Future of the Professional Accountant”.

The evening as mentioned above was spent at the awards ceremony….we had all glammed ourselves up and heading down to dinner, you could sense the anticipation in the air as we awaited to hear those important results….

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The Accountancy Learning Team at the AAT Awards Gala

Despite knowing that the team had worked really hard and given that Accountancy Learning had won the AAT Champion Award last year, it seemed near impossible to believe that we could win it again (two years in a row). Even as the results were announced I could see such shock in everyone’s faces! Such disbelief, yet such validation of the values held at the core of the business.

AAT-Champion-2018
Accountancy Learning winning the 2018 AAT Champion Award

The next day the sessions kicked off with a talk around The Future of Education followed by a session on Extended Writing Tasks and Improving the Study Support Experience both of which were very informative.

Then before we knew it the two days were over in a flash and we were all packed back into the mini bus heading down south and straight into the bank holiday traffic! Seven hours later we were (almost) home! Looking forward to the year ahead and the next AAT Training Provider Conference!

Feedback from other AL Team members who attended the conference:

Antonio

“This was the first time I attended the AAT Training Provider Conference. The different workshops were really interesting but what I enjoyed most was the Awards Gala Dinner. When the speaker said ‘the AAT Champion Award goes to… Accountancy Learning’ I couldn’t believe it! AAT Champion winners for the second consecutive year! It was a fantastic and emotional night.

This is a great achievement for us. It reflects the commitment and hard work from our AAT Tutors, my Operations colleagues and obviously, our students”.

Pat

“The AAT Conference includes both whole group sessions and break-out sessions on a range of topics.  For me, the panel discussions were the most interesting part of the conference.  The first day panel considered the future of the accounting profession in a fast-changing world and on the second day the discussion was about how best to educate students for that fast-changing world.  Look out for blog posts to come on some of the issues discussed!  Of course the real highlight of the conference was getting to meet (in some cases) and spend time with the wonderful bunch of people who are my colleagues at a distance.  It is certainly much easier to chat in person than over a computer link!  The icing on the cake was of course our award.  I am proud to be part of this successful and effective team”

Marc

“I came up from attending the Accountex Conference in London. Having not even started at Accountancy Learning yet, I still found it a useful conference to attend. Picking up various tips from other tutors, the updates from those up the pecking order at AAT, especially discussions on where the accountancy and finance sectors are heading in the face of industry disruptions such as blockchain and AI.

Nottingham? Next time I’ll bring my passport, I’m pretty sure I crossed a few international borders.

It became clear to me that I would be joining a team that were passionate about their work, winning the Champion Award for the second year running. No pressure for my arrival, maybe I’ll stay on the bench for a few seasons to start off with”

Prue

“Whilst I did happen to write our AAT award entry, it was without a doubt, very much a 100% ‘team effort’. I would have nothing to write about if, as a team, we weren’t constantly trying to push the boundaries with what we do as an AAT Training Provider.

Personally, I find the very process of us deciding to enter an award hugely helpful – you look at the AATs criteria and think “How can we demonstrate excellence in this area? How can we better support our students? How can we improve our systems? How can we better promote AAT qualifications to the wider world? What else can we do to go ‘the extra mile’ for our students, and so on” This means that we are continually trying to ‘raise the bar’, which is a good thing for absolutely everybody – us, as a training provider, the AAT and most importantly, our students.

We are always brimming with ideas to improve what we do, and we have a number of projects we are working on over the coming year (watch this space) – all designed to improve the student experience even more – I only wish there were 48 hours in a day to do all the things we want to do!

Having attended for a number of years, I always thoroughly enjoy the AAT Training Provider Conference – it is fascinating listening to speakers talking about the latest technological advancements; discussions about the future of the accountancy profession as well as presentations from the AAT themselves on the latest updates. It is also hugely inspiring listening to the stories of those who won the AAT student awards – some had encountered massive challenges along the way, but had managed to achieve their AAT qualifications none-the-less.

Most of all, I really enjoy the camaraderie within the AL team – it’s a chance for us to chat ‘outside of the office’, let our hair down a little, and winning the award was the ‘cherry on the top’!”

Simon

“It feels like I have been attending the AAT Training Provider Conference since before there even was an AAT Training Provider Conference. It was touch and go a couple of years ago, when it was simply called the “AAT Annual Conference” and the AAT started to run an AAT Members Conference and also called it the “AAT Annual Conference”. Members were booking onto the Training Provider Conference and Training Providers booking onto the Members Conference! All got sorted in the end – and it was good that they started to run one for both groups. The Members are the end product of everything we, and the AAT, do. Our raison d’etre.

It is essential that the training that is provided by the qualification and delivered by the training providers meet the professional needs of the AAT members, whether employed or self-employed.

The Training Provider Conference is an opportunity for a two way conversation – the AAT advising us what they are currently doing and what they are planning to do and for us to a. learn about it and discuss best practice in its implementation and b. provide feedback to the AAT. This may be to criticise the detail or the direction. It can also be to thank them for a job well done. They don’t always get it right but they do try to and they have become a much better “listening organisation” over the years. They have some excellent staff, a number of whom have been there for many years and some only recently joined. However, they all show a commitment to the qualification and those who study for it and those who deliver it.

I therefore find that the annual Training Provider Conference is an essential part of my CPD for the year and an essential part of the CPD for our team, which is why so many of us attend. It is also a key opportunity for us to try to influence the direction of travel for the qualification and to suggest modifications to the method of travel.

We always enter the annual Training Provider Awards. This year we only entered the Champion Award and, having won it last year, were mightily chuffed to win it again. Well done Prue on the winning Awards entry! It is also great to get together with the team to enjoy the evening and celebrate successes, such as this, as it is a team effort to achieve the level of performance over the year that allows Prue to show it off in her Award Entry.

P.S. Nottingham is a long way from Devon on a bank holiday Friday afternoon. 7 hours back, crawling along the M1, M42 and M5!!! “