Applications will be welcome from colleges which show how they have successfully supported people in their local communities, existing learners or teaching and support staff will be welcome. Of importance will be the sustainability of such innovation, and some recognition by those outside the college that this work has longer term benefit and is sustained over time.
When completing the first stage application (1,000 words) please note that the assessors will be scoring on innovation, impact and sustainability. Inclusion of information to address the AoC Beacon Criteria will enhance the likelihood of success.
Colleges that exceed the AoC Beacon Standard will be invited to submit a full project brief (building on the content in the first stage application), that will provide comprehensive additional evidence such as: feedback from staff and learners; information from community organisations, employers or health trusts; evidence of enhanced achievement and retention of learners.
Colleges wishing to apply for this award could consider some or all of the following:
- A coherent whole college mental health strategy leading to good support for learners and effective referral pathways. Support might include good strategic relationships with, for example, the mental health service providers for adults or adolescents, and clinical commissioning groups. Such a strategy will involve strong and effective leadership, management and governance support;
- Highly effective continuing professional development on mental health for staff and/or learners, and resources to support learners with mental health issues - the impact being evident through the number of learners being identified, the provision of highly effective on-course support, increased learner success and positive progression;
- A strategy which supports the mental health and well-being of college staff resulting in a more resilient workforce reporting fewer absences due to ill health and improved morale;
- The use of national standards for college sport (Towards Outstanding, for example) to promote and encourage participation in physical activity for staff and learners resulting in increased involvement across the college;
- An environment where making healthy choices is encouraged, e.g. a range of affordable, healthy options available in the dining areas; cycle to college scheme etc. resulting in improved attendance, concentration and retention;
- A positive and supportive environment where learners can discuss and be informed about mental health matters, drug and alcohol awareness, internet and social media safety, and sexual and social relationships - resulting in them feeling secure and able to learn.