Weston College recognised by AoC for mental health and wellbeing work

Weston College’s transformational approach to enhance the mental health, wellbeing and welfare of its students, its staff and its community has received national recognition by winning an Association of Colleges Beacon Award.

Weston College picked up the award for developing sustainable community partnerships/peer networks to maximise engagement and minimise isolation, where staff and students have improved mental health and wellbeing.

Joel Parker, Sports Academy Manager

“There is a growing understanding of the wider contribution that sport and physical activity can make to FE organisations, which provides us with the opportunity to further embed sport and physical activity in learners’ study programmes.

“Sport and physical activity is at the forefront of our collegiate-wide practice and ensures that we are being pro-active in our approach to mental health and wellbeing, helping to enhance the health and wellbeing of our college community, whilst supporting our welfare and mental health services.

“We are delighted to see the positive impact that this has had on our learner & staff community and it’s fantastic to see this being recognised on a national scale with the success of the AoC Beacon Award.”

A key initiative within the work has centered on the College strategically joining up and co- coordinating practical initiatives from HR, Mental Health, Sport and Enrichment and Welfare through a collective framework of ‘Body and Mind’ (BAM). This holistic approach to mental health and wellbeing has proven to be a success, with learners’ achievement & attendance increasing, whilst staff absences have decreased.

One of the key aims of the BAM initiative is to be proactive, rather than reactive, helping to minimise the number of mental health and wellbeing cases per year. The Sport and Enrichment department has been at the forefront of this approach, with physical activity levels increasing by 223% across learner and staff cohorts.

Weston College’s post-induction student survey collects data regarding faculty activity levels, which are used to identify departments with low-levels of physical activity. This data is then cross-referenced with the number of welfare engagements, per Faculty, which demonstrates a strong correlation between the two; Faculties with low-levels of physical activity also have high-levels of Welfare engagements. This information allows the Sport and Enrichment Department to develop and deliver bespoke BAM six-week packages to targeted Faculties, helping to decrease student inactivity across the college.

Key successes to date have included:

  1. ‘Us Girls’ Project – Engaged 89 inactive females, from 7 different groups, over 36 sessions.
  2. Increased sporting and wellbeing engagement – increase of 223% in sporting activity and 2000+ student & staff engagements.
  3. Community Engagement – 766 engagements with external learners, through sporting activity and wellbeing initiatives.
  4. Big White Wall – widened participation and allowed 149 learners/staff to access support 24/7 to discuss mental health safely and anonymously.
  5. Young Minds “Amplified Trailblazer” – Only UK College to be awarded a place on the programme allowing the College to sustain/share its best practice nationally with other Colleges.
  6. Increased College attendance
  7. Sustained College retention
  8. Decreased Staff Absence



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