Case Study: Scottish Government Schools Project

Background

In 2020, in recognition of the rising challenges that young people today are facing, the Scottish Government wanted to deliver an open access, professional learning resource for all school staff across Scotland. You can see our work here:  www.cypmh.co.uk

Challenge

The Government’s Mental Health in Schools Working Group envisaged a resource with a real focus on promoting mental health and wellbeing, to open up conversations and help ensure young people feel safe and welcome in school to be able to engage in learning. The resource needed to be current to support those working on a daily basis with young people and provide coherent material from credible sources for the challenges and difficulties which young people presented with.

Partnering with The Mental Health Foundation, Children’s Health Scotland and Digital Bricks Learning, Scottish Government worked with an advisory group of key players in education and mental health across Scotland.

Screenshot from Sleep Module

Solution

Digital Bricks Learning, The Mental Health Foundation Scotland and Children’s Health Scotland came together with their collective skills and experience, to work closely with COSLA, Education Scotland and the Scottish Government to produce a free to access, digital resource.

In partnership, we immediately started a consultation process, sending out surveys, holding focus groups and setting up an advisory body.

We had to be sure that the users would be comfortable with the technology and understand what the audience wanted from a digital resource. This helped plan the platform and map out the content and activities.

Key themes emerged from the focus groups:

  • Mental health & wellbeing as a priority
  • Communication
  • Parental engagement
  • Staff wellbeing
  • A whole school approach

We created this explainer video for the project launch.

Through a strong network, we consulted with the advisory group at various points throughout the journey.

The development process of content and technology involved firstly auditing and mapping existing resources.  We then established core learning outcomes based on the brief from Scottish Government and the consultation output.

At Digital Bricks Learning, design was as important to us as the content and technology. We know that good design increases uptake. The platform needed to be easy to use and navigate, colourful and friendly, simple for small screens, inclusive and accessible. It had to engage the user so that they wanted to stay and keep learning.

The design we chose was universal and minimalist, incorporating digital badges to reward the user for their learning.

We developed four main sections split into bitesize topics:

  • An Overview of Mental Health and Wellbeing
  • Factors Influencing Mental Health and Wellbeing
  • Applying Prevention Based Approaches to Mental Health and Wellbeing in Schools
  • School Staff Wellbeing

The core content is around 6-7 hours with suggestions for further learning. Learners are able to move through topics at their own time and pace in any order.

As part of the our quality assurance process, each topic was co-written by a topic lead and a reviewer before being reviewed again by the wider team and then piloted externally. This ensured content was accurate, referenced, aligned with the learning outcomes, unbiased and flowed well.

Outcome

With The Mental Health Foundation, Children’s Health Scotland and Digital Bricks Learning, the Scottish Government launched the new online learning resource in March 2021 to help school staff in primary, secondary and special schools across Scotland.

Although aimed primarily at school staff, the resource can also be accessed and used by anyone who wants to learn more about mental health and how to support children and young people.

The resource provides a toolkit, downloadable resources and practical skills based activities that are fun, interactive and can be tailored to the needs of young people in their classrooms.

Through the resource, staff can learn more about factors influencing mental health and wellbeing; prevention-based approaches in schools and tips on how to end mental health stigma and discrimination.

This video by the project team shows how the resource was created and how it is being used in schools.

The resource takes a whole school approach centred around prevention and early intervention to promote positive mental health and wellbeing for everyone in the school community. It aims to provide school staff with knowledge and understanding of mental health and wellbeing in schools and a range of opportunities to learn about experiences and advice from practitioners and young people.

Since launch, uptake across Scotland has been excellent and feedback extremely positive. As at October 2022, the platform has 2,500 users.

Through a collective vision driven by the Scottish Government, this open-access, professional learning resource is helping to ensure that the mental health of children and young people is a priority in schools, both in current times and beyond.

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