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Royal Welsh College Pilots ‘Withheld Marks’ Mental Health Scheme

17 May 2018

In a pilot scheme to support student’s wellbeing as they transition into higher education, the Royal Welsh College has stopped giving first year acting and design for performance students their academic marks.

In a trial programme, the College has removed the number attached to their feedback, allowing the students to instead focus on their personal growth and development of skills. However, the numerical mark is still available to students who wish to receive it.

“First year students arriving at the College have spent the last decade in education being marked and placed in a table of comparison to their classmates,” explains Director of Student Experience, Brian Weir.

“We found that students were concentrating on their mark and where it placed them in their cohort, rather than taking on board the written feedback.

We wanted to ease that transition from school to higher education, and work with the students in partnership, while encouraging them to take responsibility for their own progress.”

“This project aims to show students that the College is interested in them as a person, not as a ranking. Whilst their marks are available to them if they want them, we want to work with them on their particular strengths and skills, rather than where they are in their class. “

“It’s well known that there is a higher percentage of mental health issues in the performing arts.

As a College training students for that industry we have always been aware of the additional stresses this places on our students, above and beyond the usual pressures of moving away from home and starting the next stage of adulthood.“

“The feedback has been very positive so far,” continues Brian, “We have already found that removing the grading makes the student much more receptive to concentrating on their personal progress.

Very few students have actually come to ask for their mark – although it is available to them. It really does seem to be reducing that pressure, and making the transition to higher education that bit easier.”

The pilot is based on the model used in acting – where they have always seen themselves as ‘actors’ rather than competing students.

The College will review the success of the project at the end of the year, but the hope is to embed this ethos and roll this out across the College over the next few years.