A network for anyone with an interest in
adult education and mental health

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WOW! - It continues - What an eventful Autumn term.

So it's been a while since my last blog entry and so much has happened since then. Like everything in education nothing stands still...

For us in Luton, and for me, it has been a really eventful autumn term, we have been planning a new programm of communtiy learning, offering courses, those we directly deliver and those we deliver through partners.  The great news is as part of the legacy of the DfE Community Learning Mental Health research (2015/17) (CLMH) project in Luton we are able, as part of our community provision, to offer some of the courses we delivered through the CLMH project.

We now have 5 different courses we ran under the project being offered. We have had 2 cohorts complete and 7 more courses running with more planned for the New Year (2018).  We are also still recording people's mood scores to hopefully use as a comparison moving forward.

The only change really (compared to the intervention we offered during year 2 of the research) is that we are now following what was the Group C model,  so anyone can access the course, unlike in the project where we were in Group A.  One of the courses is in Family Learning, one in partnership with the Football Club, the other is being offered at various locations around the town in schools and in the community.

Family learing

The first Family Learning course this term made a big impact on some of the learners and what they moved on to next.  Some impact from the course already has seen learners describe improvements in their self-esteem, and confidence and some have already signed up to volunteering with us at Luton Adult Learning.

We are now gathering case studies from the course, learner comments so far include:

“The teacher has helped me find things buried deep inside myself and has supported me in finding the tools to develop these things in my life.” 

“This course has empowered me to try and explore new things.” 

Data from the course is still being processed but the initial signs are very positive.  Testament to this is that we have a waiting list for the next course.


Following quite a major restructure within our service, the end of September  (20170 saw Luton Adult Learning receive the call “OFSTED” were coming to visit. We are really pleased to say we maintained our GOOD grade. OFSTED were very interested to hear about the project and the Impact attending a course had had on the learners, and their progression. Feedback relating to our CLMH research project said;   

“They have extended participation to, for example, those who have mental health conditions, street homeless people and unemployed men. In addition, those in the local population with conditions such as obesity, addiction and self-neglect are targeted for support because rates for these conditions in the borough are high. The impact of these programmes, gleaned through learner surveys and managers’ evaluations, is positive. Impact measures include a reduction in anxiety, an increase in peer support to reduce isolation, gains in confidence and an increase in volunteering. Asian women involved in community learning programmes now have the knowledge and confidence to self-check and refer themselves for screening for various medical conditions. A group of unemployed men were trained to be football coaches and volunteers to run local teams.”

On reflection

On 30th October 2017, as part of the MHFE World Mental Health Day webinars, Patricia (Learning Well from the Kent research site) and I delivered a webinar to revisit and evaluate the “turning challenges into opportunities “ webinar we delivered in October 2016 with Jo Murdoch-Goodwin at the Medway project. View the recording of our webinar, “Did we turn our challenges into success?” 

And so to dissemination

Although for many colleagues in other research sites the CLMH research programme ended when the rsearch delivery phase came to an end in in July (2017), some of us, including me, offered to help with the dissemination phase of the project.

What did that mean?  Well for my part it meant being involved in some of the curation of the project. An exciting opportunity to continue to look at and record what will be part of the legacy of this project. Initially I said I wanted to continue with the blog I started – so here I am, talking about our progress and our delivery that supports wellbeing. 

Coding A Day in the Life... entries

As a result of offering to help with the dissemination, I was asked to help curate some of the qualitative information gathered across the time of the project.  One such curation element saw me and two other project leads (Patricia from Kent and Chris from Blackburn) become members of the coding team, headed by Mark Brown from Social Spider, Eleanor a colleague of his and Eli from StoryAID.  As a coders our remit was to look at and code the entries from “A Day in the Life... mental health in adult education”.  

A few of us also continued to attend the online 'FridayLunchMeets' on a Friday, for briefings and support. As part of out training to help code A Day in The Life entries, we attended a training session, with Professor Alys Young and Dr Stephen Hinks from the  University of Manchester. Some of us attended this in person and some via Zoom. 

WOW! what a privilege it was to be involved. Entries were very varied. Some talked about the weather (the 21st of June was a very hot day down South). Some were very powerful and provided an insight into how the author was thinking, feeling, coping - or not - with situations, emotions and events on that given day.  People are amazing in many ways. 

We were provided with the descriptors and following traiining and briefing sessions we attended set to work, curating the very many varied entries from the Staff and Learners involved with the CLMH project. The results will be published in 2018 in one of the box sets for the project.   

Along with Mark Brown, the 3 of were asked to give a short presentation on th experience.The Powerpoint that Patricia, Chris and I delivered at the “Telling our research story, all CLMH research sites meeting at the University of Manchester on December 4th 2017, is attached.

Watch this space

  •  The meeting in Manchester was a great day that gave research sites feedback to date on many of the results from the project so far.
  • We are not quite done yet, more results to follow SO WATCH THIS SPACE.