Ayrshire College wins UK-wide education award

Ayrshire College wins UK-wide education award

Ayrshire College was one of only three Scottish winners at the 2021 TES FE Awards - winning the best teaching and learning initiative award.

Taking place online for a second year running as a result of ongoing event restrictions, the TES FE Awards celebrate the people and teams who make a significant contribution to the UK's college sector.

Ayrshire College was named the winner of the best teaching and learning initiative award for the work of its Sport & Fitness students - Mental Health United - with their #PassingPositivity campaign.

#PassingPositivity aims to raising awareness of mental health, particularly the benefits that physical activity can have on wellbeing. The campaign started in 2019 as a one-day mental health awareness event and has evolved into a culture that is embraced throughout the college.

The mental health initiative now involves various departments at the College, running a major social media campaign, charity walks, hospitality fundraising events, and most recently a charity single recorded by former Britain’s Got Talent winner Jai McDowall, which was officially released during this year's Mental Health Awareness Week.

Since establishing the initiative, Ayrshire College has offered members of the Ayrshire community free access to an inclusive dance group, a care experienced club, para football classes, a weight loss programme for school-aged children in conjunction with NHS Ayrshire and Arran, an older adult fitness group, and have expanded their football provision to include a boys and girls soccer school. All activities are free and kit is supplied by Kelme and Only Sport.

The #PassingPositivity project is fully underpinned by SQA units that are embedded within the curriculum. The initiative gives Ayrshire College’s students the opportunity to make a difference to the college and wider community, by working in partnership with the Kris Boyd Charity on a range of events and community groups.

#PassingPositivity was already an award-winning project – previously winning awards at the South West region of the Scottish FA’s Grassroots Awards, the International Green Gown Awards, and the College Development Network Virtual College Awards.

On why it won this award, Helena Good, who was lead judge in the category, said: “Mental Health United was an engaging initiative that used sport and physical activity as a ‘hook’ to engage with the community in a creative and innovative way. This student-led project not only delivered a real-life groundbreaking initiative but made a difference to the college and the wider community.”

Ayrshire College lecturer Alan Johnston said: "This all started with one student opening up to his classmates about his own situation, and his classmates wanting to do something that could make a difference, not only to him, but to others who might find themselves in similar situations. This was embraced by many other students, staff, and community partners who have continued to make that difference. This is an amazing achievement, and is testament to all involved, of which there are many, but in particular our inspirational students who are so passionate about Passing Positivity."

3 June 2021

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