Coronavirus and other important updates for staff and students

Update on Covid testing for College return (July 14th 2021)

The College will be following Government guidance for education establishments and will be planning and providing onsite COVID testing of staff and 16-18 students across both campuses for their return in September. Further communication will be emailed to students later in the Summer.

In the meantime, please continue to use the bi-weekly Lateral Flow Tests throughout the break; it is probable that this will continue for the first term.

We hope you all have a good and relaxing Summer break; all of us have earned a well-deserved break after this challenging year.

Update on face coverings (May 14th 2021)

You will have heard that the Government has recently announced that the wearing of face coverings in schools and colleges will no longer be a requirement from Monday May 17th although they are still recommending staff wear face coverings in communal areas.

The wearing of face coverings in communal areas and classrooms/workshops over the past weeks has been extremely helpful in supporting our success in avoiding outbreaks and preventing significant numbers of students or staff from having to self-isolate. Along with home testing and increasing numbers of staff and adult students being vaccinated, we all welcome things starting to feel more stable. This is particularly important as, unlike schools, we are not able to maintain ‘bubbles’ to limit contact and on May 17th we welcome back all our ‘year one’ students for full-time face to face teaching.

Therefore, although it is no longer a Government requirement, we would like to continue to encourage and recommend the wearing of face coverings in all areas of the College by students and staff after May 17th and to continue to encourage social distancing of 1m+ in all areas. We will keep it under review over the next few weeks and take account of feedback from staff and students over the next couple of weeks.

Update on lateral flow testing and return to College (March 15th 2021)

We are delighted to welcome our students back on site today! Please remember to maintain social distancing and wear face coverings (unless exempt) in all communal areas, classrooms and workshops. If you have any worries or anxieties, then do please let your Progress Coach or tutor know. We are aware that for some, your return to College will be of worry to you and we are all here to help.

By now, most of you will have had at least one lateral flow COVID test onsite. You can continue to book these for the remainder of this week via the email links you have been sent. You will also have been sent information via email about the next phase of testing from 22nd March onwards, which is the provision of home testing kits.

A reminder that you will be able to collect your home test kits as follows:

For Queens Drive students:

Students can collect their home test kits at their second onsite test from the Enrichment Centre. Home test kits for students can then be collected from the Enrichment Centre until the end of this term. If there are any issues with collecting kits, please speak to your tutor/progress coach who may be able to arrange provision. Evening learners can also collect their kits between 5-6pm from Monday to Friday from the Enrichment Centre.

For North Star students:

For the week commencing Monday March 15, a member of staff will be based in the Avenue to issue home test kits to students. If you have not already completed a test onsite, we strongly encourage recommend that you do so, before a home testing kit is issued.

From Monday March 22nd kits will be available from Curriculum Assistants for students.

You will be given a pack of 3 tests in a box with a separate leaflet on how to take the test and report the results. You should also report the results to College, again, using the links in the email.

Statement on remote learning (January 15th 2021)

The College moved to remote learning for most students on January 5th, excepting a small group of vulnerable students and young people of key workers, during this period of national lockdown.

We completely understand the uncertainty and frustration that many of our students (and the parents of our 16-18 students), are feeling at the prospect of an indefinite period of completely remote learning and with no clear examination and assessment process in place for the Summer as yet. Our primary considerations are: to ensure that we continue to provide effective and continuous learning; provide the best possible support, resources and encouragement for you all; and look after your health and well being. We are therefore committed to providing a full and engaging student learning experience whilst ensuring that we achieve a sense of balance for all students.

For our 16-18 students, we have already been delivering a Week A/Week B classroom/remote learning model since the beginning of September, so we have already expanded, improved and developed our online and remote teaching and learning provision over several months. We believe that we are therefore significantly ahead of other Colleges and 6th forms in this respect so moving to 100% online delivery is not a challenge for us. We are confident that our students will reap the advantages and benefits of this and will ultimately be in a very good place for achievement and onward progression after this academic year. We will continue to invest times, resources and effort into ensuring that we can deliver the very best provision for our learners.

Please read our complete statement on remote learning.

Update on January exams/assessments (January 6th 2021)

The Department for Education came under increasing pressure yesterday to cancel all January exams and assessments and last night informed us that “In light of the evolving public health measures, schools and colleges can continue with the vocational and technical exams that are due to take place in January, where they judge it right to do so.” We have waited for confirmation that students will not be disadvantaged if we cancel exams before making the decision to cancel

At 22.20 last night we were informed by Pearson, the awarding body responsible for BTECs, that

“If your college or school decides to offer exams, you will be able to run your external assessments as planned and if your school or college decides not to offer vocational exams, we have agreed the following with Ofqual and the DfE to ensure that no learner is disadvantaged.

  • We will certificate any learner who is unable to take their exams and has enough evidence to receive a certificate that they need for progression.
  • Learners unable to take their assessment this January may be able to take their assessment at a later date. If that is not possible, we will put in place arrangements to ensure no learner is disadvantaged.”

Other exam boards are following this.

After careful consideration and in the light of this late confirmation, the College has decided NOT to run the January exams and assessments as we share many of the concerns from staff and students that have been raised today. The safety and wellbeing of our students is absolutely paramount to us and we feel that we cannot support these going ahead during a period of national lockdown, and when it is clear that summer exams will not run in the usual way. A statement is expected from the Secretary of State in Parliament later today which we hope will provide details on the consultation process which will ensure that all students will receive the grades at the end of the year to which they are entitled.

We apologise for the very short notice on this and for any inconvenience or additional stress caused to our students during this uncertainty. We are sure that you will appreciate that we have been forced to make decisions, in rapidly changing circumstances that are beyond our control and we share your frustration.

If you have any questions, please contact your teacher in the first instance.

Hands. Face. Space

The government message has now changed as we must continue to protect each other and remember to wash your hands, cover your face and make space to control the virus.

Information letter for parents from Public Health England (PHE)

Public Health England have produced a letter for schools/colleges PHE - Letter to parents and guardians (PDF, 111KB) to distribute to parents which explains when a person requires a coronavirus test and what the symptoms of coronavirus are. The intention of the letter is to help prevent children being taken out of school/college unnecessarily and answer some of the questions parents may have around testing.

Information for all daytime students (excluding Access/HE)

Term started for all daytime students on Monday 7th September.

Information for students and parents (PDF, 154KB). An email with this information was also sent to all daytime students on Friday 4th September.

How to access Office 365 to start working remotely (PDF, 299KB)

There are also useful instructions on how to use Microsoft Teams for online lessons on the College Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) in the section on IT and VLE Induction.

Sodexo - Our catering supplier has produced information about their health and safety procedures:

Coronavirus advice and guidance

Coronavirus Government advice - Hands, Face, Space