From education to employment

Healthy FE gains momentum under pioneering college manager

Jane Marshall was appointed Healthy College Manager at Bradford College in 2007 as part of a unique initiative aiming to address the physical and mental wellbeing of its staff and students. Ms Marshall spoke to FE News about her role in the Healthy College model’s foundation, and the drive to roll it out across the UK.

“Work was being done in schools, but in colleges we were losing momentum. I felt what we should be doing is healthy college. And there were a few colleges, only a handful at the time that were doing it voluntarily, so I went to our directorate and did a presentation and they really liked it and took it on board,” said Ms Marshall.

Her enterprise and determination that something should be done to address health issues in FE convinced Bradford College to appoint her as the country’s first – and currently only – Healthy College Manager.

With the unwavering support of Bradford College, her pioneering project garnered the attention of other colleges that have subsequently adopted many of Healthy College’s ideas. Together with Bradford College, she is taking on the challenge to promote a cohesive approach to physical and mental health in FE.

“There was nobody driving it in the college. You might get a few little pockets in different areas of someone doing something just in their own area. But that was it, there was nobody directing a big initiative like this at all.” she said.

Her considered and inclusive style of management of the scheme has been well received by Bradford College’s staff and students alike.

She added: “People feel like they’re being looked after, that somebody cares about their health and it’s more of a community. It’s motivational I think … You get these little snippets of really good positive feedback … but the main thing is to try not to push it down people’s throat, there’s a balance to be struck.”

There’s also a very real sense of positivity surrounding Ms Marshall’s work, a reaction that has led to her appointment as an Ambassador of Healthy FE. The role that has seen her visiting colleges across the UK, driving its expansion with the support of Ofsted.

“I’m working nationally, visiting other colleges to help them set it up. We’re just putting together a guide at the moment on how to set it up very quickly and who to get on board. Everything I wish I had when I set it up.” she said.

Her sterling efforts in driving the growth of Healthy FE in the UK have not only addressed a hugely important and neglected issue, but has highlighted how one person’s determination to have a positive impact on the wellbeing of staff and students – and indeed the wider FE sector – has resulted in very real and tangible change.

With the support of Bradford College, and later Ofsted, Healthy FE now looks set to play an integral role in the future of the FE sector.

Alex Beattie

(Pictured: Healthy College Manager Jane Marshall)

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