Celebrating collaboration this Colleges Week 2022
All movements need collaborators, and as such, we’re proud to be involved in some fantastic partnerships that are researching, supporting and showcasing the incredible work of colleges. So, to mark the close of Colleges Week 2022, we wanted to shine a light on some of these partnerships and our brilliant collaborators, our achievements so far, and what we hope to accomplish in the future.
Good for ME Good for FE
We’re proud to be partnering with Good for ME Good for FE, a unique social impact project looking to create a sustainable programme of community action across the UK. Through encouraging staff and students to undertake a wide range of volunteering and fundraising activities, the pioneering initiative is having a real impact on the lives of people up and down the UK.
Building on the success of the successful FE Foodbank Friday campaign, Good for ME Good for FE was launched by London South East Colleges, Loughborough College and East Coast College in July 2021 and has since gained the support of 140 FE colleges – which is over half of all colleges nationwide. To date, it has generated over £1.6m of social value and £100,000 in fundraising, impacting the lives of hundreds of people across the country. Having exceeded its initial £1m target, the campaign is now focused on ensuring continued impact by growing and developing opportunities across the UK.
Our investment will secure the long-term sustainability of Good for ME Good for FE through a pilot programme, with our funding supporting the project to bring on a new national project co-ordinator, as well as scale up their website development, marketing activity and research.
At the upcoming AoC Annual Conference, we’ll be running a breakout session on the cost of living alongside Andrew Cox from Good for ME Good for FE, who will be discussing how London and South East College Group are supporting their learners, colleagues and communities during this time. We hope to see you there!
Our partnership with the mental fitness platform Fika has seen the launch of the sector's first ever mental fitness mobile app, allowing us to truly champion and improve these skills within further education. The innovative platform is Ofsted mapped and is proven to build mental fitness in both students and staff after just five minutes' use per day.
Since its rollout in March 2021, Fika has had a huge real-world impact, helping to equip learners for life with crucial skills such as resilience, confidence and motivation. Plus, more than 6,000 staff across FE have seen their mental fitness scores increase by an average of 15% when regularly using the app.
We believe that by moving away from classing mental health as something which involves seeking retrospective ‘help’ and instead beginning to understand it as a curricular issue that can be addressed more proactively, Fika is helping to redefine how we discuss mental health within education.
We recently launched the Research Further initiative in collaboration with the Association of Colleges (AoC) to support, drive and encourage college-centred research that can help influence party and practice. It’s vital that we develop a deep understanding of the needs of the learners and communities that we serve, and this research will help us to achieve this.
In this first year of the programme, successful FE practitioners will be funded to undertake post-graduate research in an area where evidence is currently lacking. They will be supported through this programme by the Research Further team and be able to rely on the guidance of the advisory board. Scholars will be part of a supportive community of peers, and throughout their scholarship, will share findings from their research through online articles and in a webinar series, hosted by AoC and partners NCFE.
Some of our Research Further scholars will also be at the upcoming AoC Annual Conference to discuss the research they’re working on and the topics they’re interested in with attendees on the day. Please do come and introduce yourself if you’re planning on being there on the day!
Think Further is a thought-leadership initiative created by the Association of Colleges (AoC) in partnership with us, which offers a platform for the FE sector to provide deep insight and informed thought leadership on a range of topics. It brings together research-led think pieces and blogs steeped in the experience and expertise of the further education and skills sector. Its authors are true thought leaders – from college principals to leading academics and the sector’s closest partners.
Each week a new article is published, ranging from longer reads to shorter opinion pieces. So far, it’s covered big topics such as funding in FE, the important role colleges play in bridging the disadvantage gap, and how we can better support learners through the cost of living crisis. If you’re interested in contributing to Think Further, get in touch with Julia Belgutay, Senior Policy Manager, Research and Evidence at AOC, by emailing [email protected].
You can read more about our investments and partnerships to learn how we’re supporting and working with colleges year-round. You can also join the conversation around Colleges Week on social media using the hashtags #CollegesWeek2022 and #LoveOurColleges.