Date of Pledge: 

About this pledge

South Thames Colleges Group is a Further Education college in west London with about 20,000 students and 1200 staff. It delivers a wide range of courses to young people, adults and apprentices at a range of levels from Entry through to undergraduate.

It functions fully in service to its local communities and supports people to develop and succeed. It works closely with employers across the region to provide training and business solutions.

South Thames Colleges Group is passionately committed to making working life happy and fulfilling for everyone employed by the Group. This starts with a strategic priority to enhance mental wellbeing, tackle workload and understand the specific pressures and demands that make working life unnecessarily tough. Our strategic approach rests on a detailed wellbeing action plan supported by a number of forums and actions to enhance wellbeing, protect colleagues’ mental health and act when people are unwell.

We are committed to changing working life for the better through better communication, additional flexibilities and a range of preventative measures to create as many positive experiences in the workplace as possible. We also make good use of evidence from survey data, staff focus groups and stress-related sickness records to understand how the negative challenges of the workplace are impacting on people and how these can be successfully addressed.

We work closely with our staff team and make sure there is good dialogue about mental health, workload, stress and wellbeing and have open and active lines of communication with our trade unions. Mental health and wellbeing are spoken about readily and are a regular discussion point at levels, from the Group’s Governing Body through to individual appraisal meetings, which now include specific questions about wellbeing and workload.

Continuous Professional development plays a significant part in our wellbeing strategy and all staff have been asked to undertake training in managing wellbeing and mental health, while a substantial programme of additional training in specialist topics such as mental health first aid, preventing self-harm and handling suicidal ideation.

There is also a programme for managers to raise their understanding of mental health and wellbeing so that they can engage successfully with these issues at team level. In addition, there are regular sets of activities, such as exercise classes, team activities, celebration events and award ceremonies for staff. The Group has recently introduced additional measures such as sharing financial surpluses with all staff and awarding additional wellbeing leave allowances to all employees.

There is also a review of flexible working and family leave entitlements underway intended to improve the Group’s approach to these issues to support staff with domestic commitments.