Michele Sutton is principal of Bradford College and Chair of the Healthy Further Education (Healthy FE) Steering Group.

The Programme was set up in 2008 to meet the health needs of those studying and working in FE, and its enthusiastic chair insists it's the responsibility of all FE colleges to provide a safe and healthy learning environment for students and staff, including access to good-quality health services.

FE News takes her aside from a busy schedule, and discusses the main health and wellbeing challenges facing FE colleges today, and how they can work with external partners to address these.

 

What are the health issues facing today’s FE learners?

We know that Further Education learners are a complex group encompassing a wide demographic including 14 -19 year olds, adult learners with limited previous education experience, people updating their vocational skills and in some cases, higher education students. In 2001 there were over two and a half million people enrolled in an FE college in England (ONS: Census 2001) and that number has grown exponentially. The health and wellbeing issues faced by FE colleges usually reflect those that are prevalent in the local area; for example where a city has a higher than average rate of teen pregnancies, the FE colleges in the area will reflect that in some of the problems that individual learners may have. I believe it is unrealistic to assume that all FE learners face the same health issues or that there is a ‘one size fits all’ solution that can be applied to every FE college in the country. As part of the Healthy FE Programme, a self-review tool will be available to assist colleges in identifying their own health and wellbeing priorities. I’m confident that this will enable colleges to overcome that first challenge of knowing where to start and how to focus their efforts. In the meantime, the Department of Health has identified the key overarching health and wellbeing issues faced today - healthy eating, physical activity, mental health and emotional wellbeing, alcohol and drugs misuse, and sexual health – and the Steering Group I represent will be providing guidance on how the FE sector can work effectively in these areas.


How can FE colleges address health and wellbeing?

For me, it’s important that colleges take a holistic approach and ensure that initiatives are implemented in all areas of the curriculum when tackling health and wellbeing. Support from Senior Management and identifying a College Manager to drive the initiatives forward can help to ensure things continue to move along and that all departments remain involved and engaged. As the health priorities in a college often reflect the needs of the local area, I would advise doing some research to determine exactly what these issues are and how the college population may be at risk, and this may be more easily done by working in partnership with local Primary Care Trusts (PCT). Although the self-review tool will be beneficial in identifying ways in which colleges can start to tackle their health concerns, I think there are many simple initiatives colleges can start to put in place straight away. At Bradford College for example, we introduced a healthy meals option at the canteen as well as a number of different sports clubs to ensure staff and students have the opportunity to particpate in free physical activity. These initiatives are easy and are usually low or no-cost to implement, but can have a profound impact on the health of staff and students.

 

How should colleges work with community partners?

It’s so important for colleges to build and maintain close relationships with community partners such as the local PCT, Local Authority and health charities if they are to provide valuable health services for students and staff. These types of organisations often have health targets that are specific to the 14-19 age group so working in partnership with local colleges is almost always mutually beneficial. I’ve found that the Healthy FE Programme has helped to open the communications channels between colleges and the local partner organisations, helping to ease the confusion over who is the right person to speak to, and which department deals with which issue. Nine Regional Healthy FE Networks have been set up to support partnership working between FE colleges, PCTs and Local Authorities. These Networks are being led by the FE sector and are aimed at providing a virtual and face-to-face forum where best practice and information can be shared. I think the Regional Networks will be the building blocks for many FE colleges to engage in partnership programmes with external providers and will provide a forum where peer reviews can be used to benchmark and measure the performance of health and wellbeing initiatives.

The ways in which FE colleges can work with community partners to improve their provision of health and wellbeing services is varied, and one of the benefits of the Regional Networks is that colleges can talk directly to other colleges about what they’re doing. At Bradford College for example, we work closely with the local PCT to provide sexual health information and free chlamydia screenings and we are currently working in collaboration with Professor Paul Gately from Carnegie Weight Management at Leeds Metropolitan University. He’s helping us to develop a weight management programme for students and members of our local community.

I strongly believe that it’s absolutely critical that all FE colleges provide a healthy and safe environment to work and learn in, where staff and students can make the most of the opportunities presented to them. Colleges are already doing a significant amount of work in this area and Healthy FE is about supporting them, helping to enhance the fantastic work that is already underway. The 16-19 age group can be notoriously difficult to reach and at this age are often setting behavoural habits that will stick with them for life. We, the sector, are key when it comes to providing them with sufficient support networks and the information they need to make informed decisions and lifestyle choices. For me, identifying the main health and wellbeing issues is the first step for all FE colleges to take, before working closely with community partners to come up with the appropriate solutions and initiatives.

 

For more information on Healthy FE, visit www.excellencegateway.org.uk/hfep

You may also be interested in these articles:

Sponsored Video

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Advertisers

Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Newsroom Activity

Educating yourself in Prison: an inside job

Educating yourself in Prison: an inside job

FE News: The Future of Education News Channel had a status update on Twitter 2 days ago

RT @NCFE: ‘For as long as humans have worked, and whatever industry they may have worked in, success has always been predicated on having t…
View Original Tweet

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In Jan 2021, FE News had over 173,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector, putting us in the top 2,000 websites in the UK.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.

Podcasts

We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.

Events

FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page