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.

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

How to Enter

All entries are in! Finalists will be notified w/c 11 December 2023

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


Forward & Thinking are an experienced team of education marketing and media experts, working with over 50 higher and further education clients across the UK. Forward & Thinking understand the education landscape and pressures faced, particularly around funding, allocation of resources and recruitment targets, we work hard to ease these burdens by offering exceptional multi-channel campaigns that deliver results by expertly planning media that engage and convert audiences.

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.

Prospectus Plus is a digital tool that provides a sustainable and personalised solution for creating prospectuses. We prioritise sustainability by offering an eco-friendly alternative to paper prospectuses.
Users can create a personalised copy of your prospectus, showing the most relevant content to their needs and interests all in one place. And in turn, creating a higher conversion rate.
Our built-in analytics enables you to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of your prospectus. This helps you to optimise their prospectus design and content to improve overall performance. Prospectus Plus is revolutionising the way educational institutions approach prospectus creation, offering a comprehensive solution that delivers measurable results.

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.

System Live are a software house specialising in software development for colleges. Our suite of software includes products used by marketing teams at colleges. Our software includes:

  • WhatsApp Live – Our tool for bulk sending WhatsApp messages. Acts as a middleman between your college data and WhatsApp.
  • Notification Live – Our branded mobile App for colleges available for Android and Apple Devices.

JCDecaux are the premier Out-of-Home (OOH) media provider across the UK, offering prime opportunities for audience engagement across transport, retail, and roadside environments.
Our mission is to empower our clients and partners by equipping them with an understanding of the power of the Public Screen. We are dedicated to facilitating their success by fostering collaboration, providing education, and maintaining an unwavering customer-centric approach.
Our vision is grounded in the belief that every client and partner can achieve their objectives through the impactful medium of the JCDecaux Public Screen. This vision is realised by granting access to a comprehensive suite of tools and knowledge, enabling the strategic planning and execution of the most effective campaigns.

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
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

Matt Lees
Co-founder at Prospectus Plus
Connect with Matt

Nathan Monk
Co-founder at Prospectus Plus
Connect with Nathan

Image of Jon Boutell from qlue

Jon Boutell
Director at qlue
Connect with Jon

Jo Costello
Experienced within the education sector, delivering campaigns that engage and convert students
Connect with Jo