Educate North Awards 2023

The North’s prestigious educational awards are back for 2023 and categories across the University, HE, FE and Sixth Form sectors are now open for entries. 

Educate North Awards launched in 2015 with the clear aim of celebrating the world-class success of the North’s education sector and to encourage excellence, achievement, and improvement across 23 special categories. 

2023 will see new categories emerge to encourage outstanding performance in the arts, in digital and in student experience and welfare/

The University Entrepreneurs Grant (UEG) will also return as 4 students or graduates with bright business ideas will once again compete on the night for a £1000 prize and the chance to study at The Masood Entrepreneurship Centre at the University of Manchester. The 2020 UEG winner, Dr Mohammad Elhaj, has raised millions of pounds in investment since he walked away with the trophy, and it’s hoped another winner can replicate his superb success.

The Awards are promoted and sponsored by 4 of the most popular radio stations playing to millions of listeners across the North including Smooth North West, Heart Yorkshire, Smooth North East and Manchester’s XS, all part of the Communicorp UK group; The University of Manchester is Patron of the awards along with John Kennedy CBE. 

Beebot AI became sponsors in 2022 and will return in 2023 along with CCL Digital and other new sponsors which will be announced shortly. 

‘These awards focus attention on the best and most impressive achievements of staff, students and institutions across Northern England at a moment of immense change and pressure’ said Emeritus Professor Phil Harris, Chair of the Judges; ‘The standard of entries gets higher each year and the popular awards event ensures that we recognise the incredible work which so many people are doing despite the complexities of education in the UK currently’.

The Awards Dinner will take place on the evening of Thursday 27th April 2023 at The Midland Hotel in Manchester.

Entrants have till January 20th 2023 to submit their entries which will be judged by academics and business people from across the UK. Entries via 

There will also be 3 special awards nominated by listeners to Smooth, Heart and XS in the North.

Enter the awards now by visiting:


Friday 9.15pm 8th April ITV 4, plus 1pm Saturday 9th April ITV and the ITV Hub

Arkle, the greatest steeplechaser in history, is about to tackle the famous Grand National fences for the first time. 

The Irish Grand National and three-times Cheltenham Gold Cup winner never competed in the most celebrated race of all. But now he gets his chance.

It will happen – virtually – in The Grand National Race of Champions, shown during ITV’s popular Virtual Grand National 2022, which will be broadcast ahead of the real race on Friday 8th and Saturday 9th April 2022.

The virtual TV special, in partnership with The Jockey Club, uses the famous Aintree Racecourse jumps as well as stunning CGI animation powered by AI technology and algorithms, created by Inspired Entertainment – world leaders in virtual sport.

In 2020 the Virtual Grand National raised millions for the NHS when it replaced the real race on ITV due to Covid-19. NHSCT (NHS Charities Together) raised £100m within six weeks and credited the programme with raising its profile and showing the public how to donate directly to the NHS.   

Arkle will be joined by National Hunt legends like Desert Orchid, Dawn Run, Tiger Roll and Kauto Star, as they compete against twenty Grand National winners, led by the legendary Red Rum.

Producer Rob McLoughlin, who grew up near Aintree and devised the TV format said: 

 ‘It’ll be fascinating to see horses like Arkle, Best Mate and Dessie get their shot at the big Aintree fences. They never ran in the ‘real’ Grand National, but thanks to the latest computer technology, we can see them in virtual action. They’re all brilliant horses, they won at Cheltenham, they won the King George, but this will be a real test of their stamina and jumping ability.’  

‘I can’t wait. This show has become a much-see TV programme. Its results for the “predictor race” have been so close since 2017, and last year it placed three of the top five finishers, including Rachael Blackmore on Minella Times. In 2018 it told the world how Tiger Roll would win, and he did so just a few hours later in almost identical circumstances’     

Steve Rogers of Inspired Entertainment, which creates the CGI races for the TV special, said:

 ‘The team have been working on this virtual race and on the race prediction algorithm for months. We use the latest technology including AI software to create the most life-like representation. In 2017 the winner of the Virtual Grand National came second in the real race, in 2018 Tiger Roll won both, and the computer has been very close on the final position of other runners and riders.’    

Charlie Boss, Chief Commercial Officer of The Jockey Club, said:

‘We are always looking for ways to engage new audiences in British racing, and the Virtual Grand National and Grand National Race of Champions are exactly that. Hopefully it will inspire record numbers to watch the Randox Grand National on ITV and see a new champion crowned, as well as how close the algorithms get to predicting that champion.’ 

The full list of runners is as follows:

The Challengers: Arkle, Best Mate, Burrough Hill Lad, Captain Christy, Cue Card, Dawn Run, Denman, Desert Orchid, Flyingbolt, Florida Pearl, Frodon, Kauto Star, Kicking King, Long Run, Master Oats, Mill House, Native River, Pendil, See More Business, Sprinter Sacre.

Previous Winners: Aldaniti, Ballabriggs, Battleship, Corbiere, Don’t Push It, Foinavon, Garrison Savannah, Golden Miller, L’Escargot, Manifesto, Many Clouds, Minella Times, Mr. Frisk, Neptune Collonges, Party Politics, Red Rum, Reynoldstown, Rhyme ‘n’ Reason, Tiger Roll.

The 40-strong field was drawn up with the help of Aintree legend and former Grand National jockey, Richard Pitman, who admits the virtual race is going into ‘uncharted waters’:

“The mix of newcomers is intriguing, as none of them have raced over this distance or faced these fences. Experts will have their own favourites, yet the advanced technology decides the result of this clash from the archives between the proven Aintree horses and these untested additions.”

Richard is keen to see how the race unfolds. ‘I expect a mass charge over the first three fences, then you might see the likes of Frodon, Best Mate & Native River take up the running. You’ll probably have 10 or 12 horses still involved two fences out, before stamina takes a hold and the field thins out.’’

As for the eventual winner, Richard’s hedging his bets. ‘Best Mate and Desert Orchid are the “people’s horses” and both should be up there. There’s Red Rum, of course, and don’t discount Golden Miller – he won five Gold Cups and a Grand National between the World Wars. But for me, Arkle is the one they’ve got to beat.’

The Race of Champions will be run at 9.15pm on Friday April 8th on ITV 4, and at 1pm on Saturday April 9th on ITV as part of The Virtual Grand National and will be available on the ITV Hub. 


For more information please contact Kate Byford at / 07816294055 (m)

Note to Editors: 

Produced by Rob McLoughlin’s Carm ProductionsThe Virtual Grand National was first screened in 2017. In 2018 it successfully predicted the winner, Tiger Roll. In 2020 it stood in for the real race, drawing 4.8 million viewers  on ITV and more worldwide. It raised more than £3m million for NHS charities and Irish health charities and within six weeks NHS Charities Together (NHSCT) claim it helped to raise an astonishing £100m.

The races are created for Carm by Inspired Entertainment one of the world leaders in virtual sports.


British broadcasting is at risk of greater censorship or full-on conflict with powerful governments who are seeking subtle or overt control over output.

Researchers fear a ‘German style’ conflict over TV and Radio coverage and the freedoms enjoyed by journalists in the UK.

Germany was shaken in 2016 when a former TV executive claimed that his station’s news output was ‘laid down by the political class’ and the news is to ‘Ms Merkel’s liking’. Dr Wolfgang Herle’s comments were denied by ZDF but the risks may resonate in a number of other liberal democracies.

‘The German revelations centred on a major Public Service Broadcaster’ said Rob McLoughlin OBE, a former Board Director of Granada Television and World in Action investigator and co-author of a major new chapter on the media and censorship: ‘They raise questions which all who care about journalism must now consider. We have a conflict within our broadcast systems whereby such channels need government to approve funding, to regulate advertising yet at the same time they are expected to scrutinise those governments and expose their bad decision making and costly mistakes’.   

‘The relationship is tense at the best of times but when prime ministers can effectively appoint the chair of major broadcasters, there’s a risk that an expectation can develop where journalists are forced to toe the line’.

The chapter part of a major new encyclopedia on public affairs and lobbying warns Government and Media: Censorship Versus Freedom (published online 5th October 2021 and due for print publication in 2022) that TV and Radio journalists are increasingly seen as the ‘enemy’ by powerful governments and face growing curbs on their freedom to challenge and scrutinise authority. The successful Trump campaign of 2016 is the clearest example of a political ‘playbook’ against the media but other actions by governments are less overt.   

These developments are often ‘subtle’ in countries such as the United Kingdom but they could erode the role of public service broadcasters such as the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and the flow of revelations or accurate information to the public.

The chapter is published as there are warnings that the coming decade will be among the most oppressive ever across the globe and not just from elected governments but from oppressive nations and terrorism.  

Since 1990 2,658 journalists and media workers have died worldwide. 

The shocking figures collated by The International Federation of Journalists include high profile newspaper and new media journalists such as Jamal Khashoggi of The Washington Post who died in a Saudi Consulate in Turkey in 2018 and Lyra Mckee who was murdered during a riot in Northern Ireland in 2019. 

Away from those horrific international warnings the researchers have focussed on the UK where ‘party political appointments’ to the BBC’s governing body, threats to the status of Channel 4 and an institutional imbalance between the powers of politicians and proposed changes to the Official Secrets Act reveal a fault line which could crack and give political parties more control over what is seen and heard.

The authors of the chapter on government and censorship maintain that the ‘pact’ between the powerful and broadcasters needs to be urgently reviewed as an ‘expectation’ has grown up where majority parties as well as oppressive states often expect preferential reporting from a supposedly free media.

The risks have led to allegations of revenge by the authorities against TV and radio stations in the UK, which have been denied officially. 

However, it comes as the World Press Freedom Index claims that converging crises including Covid-19 will see more and more states suppressing information by 2031. States such as Turkey, Russia, Hungary, Belarus, Iran and China are singled out but in western democracies the media became an ‘enemy’ in the Trump election campaign and hostilities towards journalists have been dangerous and horrific.

‘It is perhaps time for a serious debate over the media and levels of investigative journalism we crave against the levers which powerful political figures can exercise over a media which angers, annoys or attacks them’.

‘Standing up to bullying is a day to day issue but when the fundamentals include threats to the existence of channels or licences then the ‘pact’ between the scrutinised and the scrutineers may need reforming.

For more information and to discuss access to the authors Rob McLoughlin and Andrea Campos-Vigouroux, please contact: Kate Byford at Bird Consultancy: email – kb (at), mobile – 07816294055.


They are the most prestigious and highly competitive educational awards in the North of England and now they are back and open for entries for 2022.

The Educate North Awards will see the North’s University, Higher Education and Sixth Form sectors compete across a range of specialist categories for the honour of picking up a sought-after trophy and being celebrated by their peers and expert judges drawn from across the region and the UK.

The awards dinner will be live again and will feature special guests and music and will be staged at The Midland Hotel in Manchester on Thursday 7th April 2022.

The categories and entry details are now available on the Educate North website.

Edge Hill University in West Lancashire was named University of the Year at a special online presentation in April this year before being named ‘Modern University of the Year’ by The Sunday Times.

Other winners included The University of Bradford, Newcastle University, Preston’s College, University of Manchester and institutions in Leeds and Chester.

The special Radio Awards, chosen by the listeners of Smooth (North West), Smooth (North East) and Heart (Yorkshire) will also return and continue to acknowledge outstanding contributions during the covid crisis.

‘The Educate North Awards are exceptionally competitive and cover the entire region celebrating resilience, improvement, achievement and excellence’ said Emeritus Professor Phil Harris, the Head of Judges; ’Now with radio listeners to 3 of the top stations in the country participating the profile and excitement around the competition and event is intensifying and growing’.

In the coming weeks more details about the Radio Awards, the entrepreneur competitions and the special live guests will be announced.

Educate North Awards were founded by the broadcaster Rob McLoughlin OBE and are sponsored by The Masood Entrepreneurship Centre at the University of Manchester, The Pilot Group, CCL Digital, IT Capital, Heart Yorkshire, Smooth North West, Smooth North East, CommunicorpUK and John Kennedy CBE.

They are run in association with Why Events, Don’t Panics and have been supported by Prolific North 

Full details on the Educate North website.

Educate North Awards

To mark the sacrifices by the education sector, students, lecturers and academic staff during the Covid crisis, Educate North teamed up with listeners to three popular radio stations Smooth North West, Heart Yorkshire and Smooth North East.  

Listeners inundated the stations with nominations for outstanding individuals or organisations in 3 new categories. The results saw one teacher dance and jig in his classroom as he became a winner. 

Professor Tony Young, Head of Clinical Innovation for NHS England also announced 3 nominations for a special Health Award. This was won by The Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine along with its partners at The University of Liverpool and NHS Hospitals Trust. 

Among the many other winners was Edge Hill in Ormskirk, Lancashire, which was awarded overall University of the Year in recognition of its continued commitment to deliver an exceptional student experience. 

The University was awarded the coveted top prize for the exceptional progress it has made to deliver investment and innovation over the past 12 months and its dedication to placing students at the heart of everything it does. 

The University of Cumbria’s Festival of Mental Health won the community engagement award.

The Festival is a celebration of wellbeing and offers help and support to all through its array of workshops including gardening, mindfulness, yoga and creative arts. There is also an art festival, talks, and a ‘marketplace’ of local charities, organisations and institutions.

Raising funds for local charities, the festival’s patron is Wigton-born author, broadcaster and peer Melvyn Bragg, who is an honorary fellow of the university and a past president of the national charity Mind.

Coinciding with World Mental Health Day every October, the Festival of Mental Health strengthens the University of Cumbria’s role as a leading training provider of nursing and other health professionals across the region and beyond.

Birkenhead Sixth Form College principal Mike Kilbride, pictured with college dog Teddy

The Principle of Birkenhead Sixth Form College, Mike Kilbride, was honoured with the national award for outstanding leadership. The ‘UK Leadership Award’ was given in recognition of significant achievements in leading Birkenhead Sixth Form College on a complete journey of transformation, not least being rated as outstanding in all areas by Ofsted.

The college has been shortlisted once again for the UK Sixth Form College of the Year by TES Awards, formerly the Times Education Supplement.

It won the award just three years ago and this year’s shortlisting cements their place as a national leader in Further Education.

Although the Educate North Awards ceremony was honouring 2020 winners, with last year’s celebration being postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, circumstances of the last year and more have brought into stark light the qualities of leadership required to deal with young people’s education and the deficits that they have endured during various lockdowns.

Both staff and students at the College have benefitted from what they called Mr Kilbride’s ‘strong, passionate and thoughtful’ leadership, and his communication with all parties about the direction he was steering the College through the pandemic has been highly praised by parents, with one saying it was ‘first class’.

Accepting the UK Leadership Award, Mike Kilbride said: “It’s obviously personally very gratifying to be recognised for the work that you’ve done over many years, but you can’t have success as a leader without a fantastic team behind you.”

The Educate North Awards are organised by Carm Productions in conjunction with partners John Kennedy CBE, CCL Digital, the Masood Entrepreneurship Centre, The Pilot Group, Communicorp UK, Heart Yorkshire, Smooth North West and Smooth North East. The full ceremony can be viewed below.