By Michael Conway-Jones
In July a number of students tried out a new questionnaire before and after their short course at Fircroft. This uses the Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale (WEMWBS) to measure changes in 14 different areas.
One person’s score went down slightly and we know that returning to learning can be very challenging. All the others went up. From an average score of 36 out of 70 at the beginning, to 47 at the end, which is just under the national average.
We’re used to students feeling more confident when they leave Fircroft and more supported by each other. This is reflected in the WEMWBS scores. The biggest improvement was in response to the statement “I’ve been able to make up my own mind about things”. Some people jumped 2 points up the 5 point scale.
This fits with some academic reading we’ve been doing which says that learning changes our “frames of reference”. This year we’ll be carrying out our own action research into the transformations which happen at Fircroft. As well as progress in their subjects, we’ll be seeing if students are more aware of their assumptions, more open to other perspectives and take the risk of changing their mind.
Meanwhile on Friday we’re bringing together representatives from every local authority in the West Midlands to use WEMWBS or a similar “social metric” with 1500 learners, supported by the Learning & Work Institute. We look forward to developing this further and better documenting the difference we make to learners’ health and wellbeing this academic year.