College wins pioneering mental health award for the second time

Impington Village College, on the outskirts of Cambridge, has been awarded the Gold Status School Mental Health Award by the Carnegie Centre of Excellence for Mental Health in Schools for the second time. This is in recognition of its continuous commitment to outstanding mental health and wellbeing provision for students and staff.


The Carnegie Centre of Excellence for Mental Health in Schools aims to strengthen pupils’ mental health by supporting schools to make a positive change at all levels of the UK’s education system, improving students’ outcomes and life chances.


The College offers its students a wide range of mental health support and resources, including an in-house mentoring programme and online referral system, a family support worker, YMCA counselling and access to professionals trained in areas including mindfulness, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and adolescent mental health.


The College also places a strong emphasis on staff wellbeing and mental health. It offers flexible working patterns, one paid family day annually and the option to work from home, when not teaching, to its staff. In recognition of its successful policies, the College was chosen to be one of eight Flexible Working Ambassador Schools in the UK to share best practice about how other schools can use flexible working to support teachers’ mental health and wellbeing.


The Department for Education also chose the College to represent the East of England and North East London regions for the ‘System Leaders – Workload Reduction Toolkit Refresh’ project, which addresses workload issues in schools, such as feedback and marking. All of these initiatives create an environment where staff and students feel safe and supported, to enhance student learning.


Victoria Hearn, Principal, Impington Village College, explained:Maximising flexibility for our staff means that they are able to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Flexible working has helped us to improve staff morale, reduce absences and increase productivity. By retaining our talented teaching team, we are able to deliver a continuous, high standard of learning for our students.”


Alongside support, all students have the opportunity to take part in wide range of activities to improve their wellbeing and personal development, such as pottery, swimming and yoga, as part of their iCAS (Creativity, Activity and Service) activity. This programme encourages learning for pleasure, commitment and responsibility, and fosters a sense of accomplishment and enjoyment for students.


Hearn said: “I am incredibly proud of the positive, inclusive environment we have built at the College, where all of our students and teachers can feel safe, secure and looked after. Our community feel means that our students feel comfortable asking for additional support, and our teachers can identify when a students may need additional resources for their mental health or wellbeing. As an IB World School, we take a student-centred approach to learning and teaching, focused on developing students intellectually, emotionally, physically and socially; helping them to develop their confidence and resilience. I am delighted that we have been re-awarded Gold Status for the second time in recognition of the outstanding pastoral care and support that our students benefit from.” 


The award was established in 2017 by the Carnegie Centre of Excellence for Mental Health in Schools – part of Leeds Beckett University – and social enterprise Minds Ahead.


Doctor Steve Burton, Interim Dean of Leeds Beckett’s Carnegie School of Education, said: “Achieving this award is not just recognition of a whole-college approach to mental health, it’s a recognition of the college’s commitment to improving the life chances of children and engaging with the wider community including staff and parents/carers.


“We’re truly proud to have worked with Impington Village College in this vital work and look forward to further collaboration.”


Dean Johnstone, founder and CEO of Minds Ahead said: “This award shines a light on the excellent work schools are doing to promote mental health for their community of children and adults. It is thrilling and humbling to learn about Impington Village College and the many other schools engaged in the quality award process. I’d like to offer my congratulations on this deserved recognition.”