Mental Health in Further Education

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Mental Health in Further Education

Funded by the Greater Manchester Health & Social Care Partnership, GMCG Colleges have come together with Greater Manchester 6th form colleges to support and address the mental health needs of learners and staff.

Launched in 2019, the project has already undertaken significant work including;

  • ACES/Trauma Informed work
  • Social Prescribing
  • Supervision for staff
  • Mental health first aid
  • Targeting vulnerable groups
  • Online resources
  • Working with Independent Training Providers
  • CWT consultancy
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The project is having a significant impact across the colleges sector and extending services into specialist colleges and independent training providers in order to reach more apprentices and their employers.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a big impact both on the needs of the learners and on the delivery of the project. The projects are adapting to the new circumstances and the needs of cohorts of learners who have now missed out on huge amounts of face-to-face learning, support and extra-curricula activity.

In a recent survey of further education colleges across England, 83% of colleges had seen an increase in referrals in September 2020 compared to the previous year. The increase does not come as a surprise, but it comes with the added complexity of having to deliver services in a COVID secure way and when staffing resources are stretched to meet the needs of all learners and keep campuses safe.

The full impact of COVID-19 has yet to be felt and since the AoC survey was undertaken we have entered a further national lock down, had more uncertainty about exams and assessment for all of our student cohorts and returned to most interaction being on-line. On top of this colleges are now preparing to receive new students in September who will have had two years of severely disrupted learning and limited time in school or college, alongside second year students who have had a disrupted first year in college, many of whom will be preparing for their first set of formal exams in 2022.

Future plans

With the above in mind the work planned for 2021/22 will do the following:

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Focus on transition and student retention

Building on the learning from the first two years of transition programmes we will focus on helping students make the move from school into college and the support that is required to help them stay on course.

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Build on existing capacity

Build on the capacity built to date through the project.

Share learnings across the group

Share learnings from the project and Mental Health Support Teams in targeting key issues including working with parents and exam anxiety.

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Host events and create networks

There is significant practice to share, both to shape delivery next year and to embed the practice that has been developed.

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Key issues

  • Working with parents – Materials to support parents with older children suffering from lockdown.
  • Exam anxiety – Develop suitable resources and suggest approaches for managing exam stress. This may be particularly pertinent in 2022 when students in their final year at college may not have sat any external exams in their school/college life until their final set of exams in this year.

As a result of the work on this Mental Health in FE project, two GMCG colleges were nominated jointly for a prestigious Beacon Award.

Bolton College  Hopwood Hall College

Bill Webster

Project Lead

Bill Webster

Principal
Bolton College

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