The pandemic has affected education in many ways. It has impacted young people and adults, organisations and systems, and these impacts will be felt for years to come. This will be hard to predict and understand, and knowing what the most effective solutions can be will take time.
There were challenges facing young people, teachers, leaders and providers before March 2020. However, feedback from the sector is clear that certain aspects of delivery have been impacted much more than others.
We think these spotlight topics are most likely to be of help as we start to recover from the immediate impact of Covid and move to the next phases of our lives, as we try to establish our new ways of living and learning.
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The FE workforce continues to adapt to ensure that our learners can access their studies in these continually uncertain times. But there is no doubt that the amount of change and uncertainty brought about by Covid-19 is taking a toll on both staff and learners.
In our webinar Mental health and Wellbeing in FE: the new landscape1, our Centre for Excellence in SEND at Weston College highlights that in a survey by Young Minds 2020, 80% of young people said that Covid-19 had made their mental health worse. And even more worryingly, 25% of young people who tried to access mental health services failed to receive any support. Further, the AoC report on mental health and colleges2 reported that 94% of colleges reported having students who had attempted suicide.
Similarly, Covid-19 has impacted on staff wellbeing. In a forthcoming report on the wellbeing of the FE workforce during Covid-19 by University of Portsmouth due to be released in January 2022, they report a marked increase from pre pandemic responses to the statement, ‘I am thinking about myself in a positive way.’
So, what can we do to help? Ensuring that the mental health and emotional wellbeing of both staff and learners is supported from the moment they enter our sector and throughout their time with us is a priority. There are some excellent examples across the sector including Bridgend College, Winners of the 2021 AoC Beacon Award for mental health and wellbeing3, and Weston College’s whole organisational approach to supporting mental health4.
1 Mental health and Wellbeing in FEE, webinar
2 Mental health: 94% of colleges report suicide attempts, 28 Jan 2021 tes.com
3 Leading the way for mental health and wellbeing, Bridgend College
4 Emotional recovery language in FE – what’s yours?, SET
Resources for leaders, managers and practitioners in the Further Education and Training sector. This includes online CPD, digital teaching support, webinars, and journals. Please visit the below pages to see the help that is available.