Mental Health Awareness Week

Hi everyone,

SQA have published a great piece on MHW Awards and Larbert HS approach to delivery to promote the awards and raise awareness of the Level 6 development. This will be published on wider SQA channels as part of our support for Mental Health Awareness week. Hope you enjoy 😁.

Mental Health and Wellbeing Award – New for 2023

Launched in 2018, SQA’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Award at SCQF level 4 and 5 has over the last five years become a well-established qualification that introduces young people and adult learners to the topic of Mental Health in an accessible way.

Both the SCQF level 4, and level 5 courses give learners an insight into the positive and negative aspects of mental health and the impact it can have on their physical and mental wellbeing.

One of the core aims of the qualification at both levels is to reduce the stigma that persists around mental health issues and promote a greater understanding of the mental health factors that can influence behaviour. The latest attainment figures reveal that almost 3,400 candidates achieved the award across both levels in 2022.

Looking ahead, SQA has developed a new SCQF level 6 Mental Health and Wellbeing award – which targets learners keen to develop their skills and understanding further – that will be available to schools, colleges, and training providers later in the year.

Larbert High School near Falkirk has been one of the pioneers of the Mental Health and Wellbeing Award, offering the SCQF level 4, and level 5 courses to pupils, and parents/carers, in conjunction with more traditional qualifications. The school also plans to offer the SCQF level 6 course once it is available.

Martyn Shields is a Depute Year Head at Larbert High School, and a member of the Qualifications Design Team responsible for the new SCQF level 6 qualification.

Level 4 and Level 5 at Larbert

Talking about how the school delivers the award, Martyn said: “The school delivers the content of the level 4 award through our Personal and Social Education (PSE) programme at the appropriate stage in S1-S3. Pupils then continue to generate naturally occurring evidence right up to S4 at which stage they are presented for the full group award.

“Pupils in our Additional Support Centre provision are also completing some of the outcomes of the award. We carefully adapt the assessment style to give the pupils the best possible chance of generating the evidence.”

The SCQF level 5 award gives learners in S4-S6 the chance to widen their achievement opportunities in tandem with their studies towards National Qualifications, Highers, and other vocational awards.

Martyn continues, “Pupils are encouraged to pick Mental Health and Wellbeing as part of our Leadership Academy in S6. The pupils involved in the Leadership Academy will be responsible – with support from staff – for leading on Mental Health and Wellbeing Initiatives across the school.

“The S6 pupils recruit younger learners from S1-S3, agree on set targets for the year and are given time within their timetable to make a real difference to the pupils of Larbert High and the families within our community. Our S6 pupils have led Mental Health Awareness Days, started Mental Health Drop-ins, taught Mental Health PSE classes, and have spoken at assemblies and are at the forefront of wellbeing within our school.”

Reaching out to the community

Larbert High School also runs a family learning initiative which revolves around the three units that make up the Mental Health and Wellbeing award; Understanding Mental Health Issues, Influences on Mental Health and Wellbeing, and Coping Strategies and Building Resilience. Work is posted on Google Classroom on a weekly basis, and followed up by a live Google Meet, where parents/carers have the option to complete tasks and generate the evidence so they can achieve the award. Now, around 50% of parents/carers are involved in working towards the award.

Looking ahead

The school plans to offer the SCQF level 6 award from August 2024 – the qualification will also be supported by a new SQA Mental Health and Wellbeing Award for Educators, which will be available later this year.

The SCQF level 6 award will provide progression routes for those learners who have completed the SCQF level 5 award and will also add great weight to applications for those considering careers that relate to wellbeing.

Martyn adds: “The introduction of the Mental Health and Wellbeing Awards have been revolutionary for the pupils of Larbert High and their families within our community. Pupils have opted to study for the award for a variety of reasons; we have young people who want to improve their own Mental Health, some wish to support a friend or family member, for others it fits nicely into their positive destination which has been evident during applications for college, university, and employment.

“The performance outcomes and versatility of how our school generates evidence means the award is totally inclusive and allows some level 4 learners to make that jump to level 5. I believe the young people involved in this award are far better equipped to deal with the challenges that life throws at them, and it gives me great confidence they have the tools to overcome them.”

Iain Morrison, Head of Humanities, Care, and Services at SQA, said: “Our new SCQF level 6 Mental Health and Wellbeing award adds a new dimension to SQA’s existing offering, giving learners the opportunity to develop their knowledge of the topic further, and an insight into possible career routes. In addition, we are also developing a new SCQF level 8 award for educators delivering our mental health awareness courses to help them further develop their skills and understanding when delivering these qualifications.”

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