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College ESOL students benefit from online Champions Toolbox’ programme

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Wiltshire College & University Centre supports English Speakers of Other Languages students with online 'Champions Toolbox' programme during pandemic

An innovative project by Wiltshire College & University Centre to support learners feeling anxious and isolated during the pandemic proved so successful it is hoped to be rolled out across the wider College in the very near future.

The College worked in partnership with Dr Tamara Russell, Clinical Psychologist and Director of the Mindfulness Centre of Excellence, and Mary Louise Morris, a mindfulness teacher, to deliver emotional resilience training, also known as ‘The Champions Toolbox’, to full-time ESOL (English Speakers of Other Languages) students earlier this year.

Describing the training, Mary Louise said: “We call this ‘The Champions Toolbox’ because we all have a champion inside of us.

“During the sessions, students get to know their own champion qualities and use a journal as a personal record of what they discover. They are also invited to make a box with items, such as photographs or meaningful objects, which remind them of their champion qualities.

“We explore the themes of Courage, Curiosity and Connection and help students to appreciate which of these qualities they already have, and which they might need to develop.”

The College has around 150 students aged between 16 and 18 for whom English is not their first language.

These students can often lack confidence and so the course gives them the opportunity to increase their English grammar, vocabulary, reading, writing, speaking and listening skills.

During the first lockdown, the ESOL department noticed that some students were struggling with feelings of isolation and anxiety and wanted to support them to change that.

Tom Evans, Deputy Head of Department for ESOL, said: “At the start of the pandemic we noticed that some of our full-time learners were struggling, so we were delighted to be able to support them by working with experts in mental health.”

The team held five sessions virtually and students had the chance to talk about their feelings and concerns and make use of their own ‘Champions Toolbox’, with exercises to help those struggling.

Tom continued: “We were delighted to work in partnership with Dr Tamara Russell and Mary Louise Morris to help support these vulnerable young leaners and enable them to be better equipped to face the stresses and strains of the third lockdown and the continued separation from their friends for long periods of time.

“We are now looking at how we can take this project forward in the next academic year in new and innovative ways.”

To find out more about our ESOL courses, click here.

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