Celebrating the Success of Marketing in Further Education

The FE First Awards celebrates the achievements of marketing teams and individuals in colleges and sixth forms from across the country. The prestigious event, highly regarded in the sector, is the only awards to solely celebrate marketing in the further education arena.

The awards are open to all further education colleges and sixth forms, and you don’t have to be a member of the College Marketing Network to enter.

When? Monday 29 January 2024 from 7pm
Where? Crowne Plaza Hotel, Birmingham City Centre

Award entry deadline: 17 November 2023
Finalists announced: w/c 11 December 2023

FE First Awards 2024 categories:

  • Low Budget Campaign Award (Budget £2000 or less)
  • Internal Impact Award
  • Events Management Award
  • Social & Digital Media Impact Award
  • Website Development Award
  • Innovation & Creativity Award
  • Communications Campaign Award
  • Targeted Recruitment Campaign Award
  • Prospectus Award
  • Green Marketing Award (Sustainability Impact)
  • Rising Star Award*
  • Marketing Superstar Award*
  • Marketing Team of the Year (Large Team – 6 FTE members or more)*
  • Marketing Team of the Year (Small Team – 5 FTE members of less)*
  • Best of the Best 2022**

* These categories are only open to colleges in current membership of The College Marketing Network at the time of the awards
** Judged from the winners in each category by The College Marketing Network

How to Enter

Step 1:

Download the award category entry form(s) and decide which award(s) you are going to enter.

(CMN Members can download from SharePoint)


Complete and submit the Awards Application Form


Write your award entry – remember, your entry will be judged only by the information you submit so make sure you include all the details that make your entry a winner!


Once your entry is written and ready to be submitted, email your entry to emma@m-network.org

Email each award entry separately with ‘FE First Awards Entry: [Name of category]’ as the email subject.

Please note, an Awards Application Form must be submitted before your award entries.

Entry fees

The awards are FREE to enter for CMN member colleges.

Non-member colleges: £125 per award entry.

Payment can be by PO or online – please select when you submit the Awards Application Form

FE First Awards Gala Dinner 

The gala dinner is a formal event, starting with a drinks reception, followed by a three course meal, and then the awards presentation. Dress code is formal, black tie optional but encouraged.


Tickets are priced at £90 per person for CMN members and £145 per person for non-members.

Payment can be by PO or online.

Accommodation & Travel

If you wish to stay the night you can book a room directly with the Crowne Plaza hotel, or you may find it cheaper on travel sites. If booking direct, the rate for B&B is £147 pp.

Alternatively, there are other hotels near by offering cheaper rates.

Travelling by train: Birmingham’s Grand Central station is only 0.2 miles from the hotel.

Travelling by car: Please be aware of Birmingham’s clean air zone. There are three car parks located near the hotel:

  • Crowne Plaza Car Park – Arena Central Car Park, Holliday Street, B1 1TQ.
    £21 for 24 hrs payable at hotel reception.
    Limited parking – you can only park in bays WITHOUT numbers
  • Mailbox Car Park – Q-Park Mailbox, Royal Mail Street, B1 1RD – 5 minute walk from Crowne Plaza.
    15% discount when staying at the Crowne Plaza
    £22.50 for 24hrs
  • Town Hall Car Park – Town Hall Parking Brunel Street, B1 1TA – 5 minute walk from Crowne Plaza.
    £16.30 for 24 hrs payable at location


We are media experts working across out-of-home and PPC platforms creating innovative, research-led campaigns that deliver results for clients.
Our values, Care – Listen – Honest – Deliver, define how we act and behave.

Pathways is a suite of career tools that help students see the link between your courses and careers. It brings high quality careers information into your website and shows prospective students and their parents possible career options after studying on your courses.
Pathways is an affordable solution, set up is easy, it requires no extra work from your IT team and helps fulfil Gatsby Benchmarks and Ofsted’s careers criteria.

A digital agency based in the West Midlands, We Are Smile have developed a new product to deliver personalised, sustainable, and trackable digital prospectuses for the education sector.

A multi award-winning digital marketing agency with over 20 years in education marketing. We work collaboratively with each client, delivering award-winning digital strategy, brand development, websites, SEO and marketing campaigns that deliver commercial results.
Our Mission: to partner with ambitious education organisations that want to grow and use digital as a tool to maximise their return on their investment, and in doing so make a real positive impact to students lives. Our team of 28 are a powerful mix of strategist, creatives developers, data analysts, marketing consultants, and project managers bringing together the right skills, experience to deliver digital solutions that drive commercial results.

Bloomsbury Institute is a higher education provider in central London offering undergraduate and postgraduate degree courses in business management, accounting, and law. 

A well established web design, development, and marketing agency with a strong specialisation in the FE sector.

We’re a well-known name in college marketing, and we’re not scared to shout about it. Why? Because we design and build first-class college websites and apps.
Our team of seasoned account directors, designers and highly skilled web developers consistently go over and above what’s expected in the further education sector, delivering websites that push boundaries and achieve goals. We’ve built large scale powerful college websites with seamless integrations to MIS systems.

Award Sponsorship

The FE First Awards celebrates the very best of marketing in the further education sector. Sponsoring an award provides your business the opportunity to be seen by, and engage with, marketing professionals from colleges and sixth forms from across the UK.

The FE First Awards is held on the same day as our conference where there is also opportunity to network with delegates by hosting a workshop or exhibiting.

Find out more about the packages available.

Award Judges

Rachel Til
Marketing Mentor and Communications Coach and Owner of Rebel Leaders
Connect with Rachel

Sarah Cousins
Marketing Strategist & Innovative Education Marketer at
The Ideas Girl
Connect with Sarah

Susan Bexton
Experienced Communications Professional and Owner at Birdbox PR
Connect with Susan

Elvie-Jo Shergold
Marketing, Communications and Customer Journey Specialist
Connect with Elvie

Rebecca Hollington
HE Comms & Recruitment Specialist
Connect with Rebecca

Michelle Rodger
Marketing Professional Experienced in the FE Sector
Connect with Michelle

Sally Steadman
A Strategic Marketer with Specialist Knowledge in Education
Connect with Sally

Emma Leech
Multi Award-winning Marcomms Education Specialist
Connect with Emma

Gurinder Rai
FE Marketing and Events Professional
Connect with Gurinder

Cassia House
Marketing and Public Relations Specialist at Goldings Communications
Connect with Cassia

Kim Hughes
Public Relations and Communications Specialist and Owner at Goldings Communications
Connect with Kim

Richard Walker
Digital Marketing Consultant and Owner at Serpass Digital
Connect with Richard

Ben Verinder
Chartered PR Practitioner, Specialist in Communication and Reputation Research and Founder at Chalkstream
Connect with Ben