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College Expo Roadshow to shine light on students mental health

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  • Set to kick off at the Borders College on March 28, the College Expo Roadshow will explore the creation of ‘fantastic’ student experiences within colleges that goes beyond the classroom

College staff should be fully involved in the mental health and wellbeing of students and create experiences that go right across learning and beyond. This is the theme of the first in-person College Expo Roadshow, to be held at Borders College in Galashiels on March 28.  

The free-to-attend College Expo is the leading event for Scotland’s college sector, organised by College Development Network (CDN), which is aimed at professionals working in secondary schools and colleges, along with university staff as well.

Now in its sixth year, discussion at this College Expo Roadshow event will focus on the findings of research undertaken by CDN and the Mental Health Foundation. It will explore what colleges have done to meet the needs of student mental health and wellbeing over the past 12 months, identify future priority areas, and consider what support may now be required. 

Discussions from the three separate College Expo Roadshows, which will be held in March, April, and May, will inform aspects of hands-on professional learning workshop sessions at the Virtual College Expo in June. This will give educators a concrete opportunity to address student experience at a local level.

CDN’s aim this year is to offer an in-person event within striking distance of all colleges in Scotland. The Borders College event will be the first of three physically hosted Expo Roadshows, two further events at Forth Valley College Falkirk Campus and UHI Inverness will be taking place in April and May respectively. College Expo 2023 will draw to a close in June with a two-day virtual event hosted on the theme of ‘Developing Practice Across Tertiary Education’.

Last year’s Virtual College Expo indicated that visitors were keen to network in person again, but that they wouldn’t have the time to take two whole days out for a fully face-to-face College Expo over the two days in June. This feedback was incorporated to devise a hybrid event format.

Sandy MacLean, Lead in Learning & Teaching and Wellbeing at CDN, said:

“We know that student mental health and wellbeing needs are on the rise. Recent research by the Mental Health Foundation points to challenges associated with the cost of living crisis, 37% of students have experienced food insecurity. In addition to that 75% of students who participated in the research have experienced at least one adverse childhood experience.

“CDN’s research team has highlighted the importance of college counselling and wellbeing services, the ways colleges are meeting student needs, and the high-level skills of college staff in responding quickly to these needs. We have a fantastic panel of experts to take forward this important discussion, which will inform future practice. I very much look forward to it.” 

Jon Vincent, Principal of Glasgow Clyde College, said:

“Creating fantastic student experiences within colleges has never been more important than it is now, and we’re excited to discuss the findings of CDN’s research and the findings of the Thriving Learners report recently published by the Mental Health Foundation with colleagues across the country.

“It’s important that we as a sector continue to keep evolving and improving our level of service and offering to ensure that we’re supporting all students and meeting their needs. The college experience is about so much more than courses and classrooms, and it’s important that it’s recognised across our industry so we can help students meet their goals and ambitions.”

Pete Smith, Principal of Borders College, said:

“The College Expo Roadshow is an important opportunity for colleagues to look at and reflect on the research undertaken by CDN and the Mental Health Foundation.

“In addition, having insights from key staff from Borders College contributing to the panel and sharing their professional perspective on student mental health and well-being allows us to highlight best working practices and enhance the overall student experience within the sector.”

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