MINEHEAD'S Foxes Academy has been named as the UK's best overall Further Education Provider for 2018.

The academy, which provides hospitality and catering training for young people with learning difficulties, was chosen 100 shortlisted organisations in 17 categories at the Tes Awards (formerly known as the Times Educational Supplement).

It was a double success for the Foxes' team as the academy was also named as the best Specialist Provider.

The judging panel was unanimous in its decision and said: "Foxes Academy aims to equip learners with the skills, knowledge and confidence to successfully shape their own futures.’

"The provider’s engagement with local employers was exceptional, offering real pathways for their learners, as were its 100 per cent pass rates in all formal examinations and assessments in 2016-17.’

Judges particularly paid tribute to the academy’s ‘tremendous employment outcomes’, recognising that the sustained employment rate has been 73 per cent – ‘figures that many general FE colleges, let alone specialist providers, would be envious of.’

Overall, 73 per cent of Foxes’ graduates enter work, compared to a disappointing national average of just 5.8 per cent for people with learning disabilities. Reports show 65 per cent of people with learning disabilities or severe mental health conditions want to work.

Foxes' principal, Tracey Clare-Gray said: ‘We give our learners a real life learning environment.

"We run Foxes Hotel, staffed by our learners. Real deadlines, real work and a real shift pattern.

"Our local community is viewed as a learning environment. The young people live in houses where they develop their soft skills, so valued in life, thus ensuring successful employment opportunities."