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Covid-19 Guidance and support

 

Principal’s update

 

Friday 8th January 2021 

The introduction of a national lockdown by government will have a range of implications for the way in which the College will continue to provide outstanding support to its many learners and apprentices. Government guidance and expectation is having to change on an almost daily basis to address the significant challenge that the pandemic continues to present. As a College it is our intention to update you as often as is deemed purposeful and helpful. I hope that the following provides both learners and parents/carers with the latest key information and goes someway to answer any questions or queries that you might have at this time.

 

Learning Expectations

Teaching and learning for the vast majority of learners and apprentices will be delivered online through Microsoft Teams until at least February half-term. Live lessons will be delivered through this medium as per a learner’s normal timetable. Programme and course tutors will communicate any adjustments to delivery and assessment.

Most learners are very familiar with Microsoft Teams however please access the following link for more guidance on how to access online lessons. Learners can find the online ‘ready to learn’ expectations on Share Point in the Student Zone.

Face to face support will be available for learners with SEND or deemed to be vulnerable. The faculty of Inclusive Practice will communicate arrangements for those within Foundation Learning and those accessing specialist support programmes. Curriculum faculties will communicate arrangements for any other identified groups or learners that it is felt would benefit from some face to face support. All staff and students will be required to complete a lateral flow COVID-19 test prior to attending any timetabled face to face sessions and will only be allowed on site once a negative test has been confirmed and verified. Details regarding this process and the associated support available will be communicated to you by the Inclusive Practice Faculty or the faculty area in which you study. If you have any queries, concerns regarding the offer for vulnerable learners or need to discuss any additional support outside of that arranged please contact us via email at SENDenquiries@weston.ac.uk .

Learners who do not have access to an appropriate device for online learning or no internet access are asked to make their personal tutor aware so they can follow up with our IT and Digital Technology Support Team. We will do our best to arrange the loan of any necessary equipment. Where this is not possible, we may contact you to discuss alternative arrangements that might include some face to face support to ensure that you do not get behind with your studies.

Please find the College’s full Remote Teaching and Learning Plan here

 

January Examinations and External Assessments

As a college we recognise that learners have worked really hard to prepare for their exams. We also appreciate that some learners are reliant on completing external assessments to secure licence to practice or professional status that is important to their career or advancement in work. Where our learners are able and want to take the exam they have prepared for, we will allow them the opportunity to do so. The College is therefore continuing with the agreed timetable of exams in January.

Each learner will know best their own individual situations and will know how they personally feel about sitting their exam. If any learner does not feel able to come into college, the college will support this decision and ensure that they are supported to complete the assessment at an alternative time or through any adaptive assessment protocols that may be put in place by the OFQUAL and the awarding bodies in response to the pandemic. No learner will be dis-advantaged if they choose not to sit their exam at this time. Learners are asked to confirm this to our exams team via email to examinations@weston.ac.uk .

Learners who do wish to attend their exams are asked to complete a COVID-19 lateral flow test 24- 48 hours prior to sitting the assessment. These can be booked through the following link: https://northsomersetcouncil.simplybook.cc/v2/#

We would ask that all learners attending exams conform to this request and provide evidence to their course or programme tutor prior to the exam and be ready to share the confirmation of a negative test outcome on entry to the exam.

 

Summer Examinations

The Government announced this week that GCSE and A Level Summer examinations would be cancelled and replaced by alternative assessments. We know that many learners will be disappointed that they will not be able to sit the examinations that have been a key goal and focus for their studies up to this point. We want to reassure learners that the work they have done and will do from now until the end of the academic year is not wasted. In fact, attendance and engagement with lessons and in college assessments takes on increased importance as it will form part of the evidence that will be used by teachers to inform judgements about their final grade. It is essential therefore that all learners and apprentices continue to fully engage with their learning and do their very best in all internal assessments that are set between now and the end of the year.

We do not currently know if there will be any adjustments to external assessments for vocational, professional and other provision such as functional skills. At the current time it is ‘business as usual’ for these programmes and learners must therefore attend all online lessons and complete required coursework and assessments as directed by their teachers.

 

Learners applying to University

As a result of the national lockdown, the final UCAS deadline has been moved back to 6pm on Friday 29th January. Learners who have yet to submit their application to University can access a wide range of resources and guides via the careers page on the Student Zone, as well as access 1:1 support from a member of our careers team. Contact the team via email on uni.help@weston.ac.uk or book a 1:1 appointment via the careers pages on the student zone.

We would strongly encourage all learners to consider HE provision offered at the College. University Centre Weston (UCW) is part of the Weston College Group and is committed to delivering an outstanding higher education experience, enabling success and inspiring ambition.

UCW offer a range of degree-level courses and qualifications, several which follow on seamlessly from Weston College programmes.

 

Why choose UCW?

  • UCW is rated as Gold in the Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework, meaning the teaching, learning and opportunities provided are of the highest quality in Britain.
  • UCW has also achieved the best Higher Education Review in the West of England.
  • In 2019, 40% of UCW Honours graduates achieved first-class degrees, which is well above the national average, and the latest figures show that 90% of students complete their course.
  • According to the latest figures, 95% of UCW graduates gain employment or progress to further study within six months of graduating, with 74% in either highly skilled employment or further study.

What to find out more – visit www.ucw.ac.uk

 

Mental Health and Well-being

Safeguarding, welfare and learning support will be available and operating as normal. Learners are encouraged to use the normal contact numbers and referral protocols where support and/or help is needed. We recognise that periods of lockdown can be challenging for everyone and we would encourage learners to access the resources also available via the Let’s Chat website specifically designed to support learners with their health and wellbeing. We will also soon shortly be releasing details of ‘Safe Space’ which will provide a bookable face-to-face appointment for learners to access pastoral care and support during the lockdown period.

 

Employer partners

Industry placements

We recognise that it may not be practical for our learners to attend your business premises for their industry placement within the new lockdown restrictions imposed. Where however, you are still able to provide a placement, we will encourage students to continue to attend as per the agreed schedule with yourselves, and in line with the government and college guidance to protect their and your staff’s safety.

To provide a successful and safe work placement opportunity at this time, there are three options for employers to consider, these have been sent directly to our employers with students on industry placements, with a request to confirm their preferred route via their Work Placement Officer or via an email to workplacementteam@weston.ac.uk.

 

Apprenticeships

During this lockdown period, Weston College will continue to provide an education to all our apprentices via a virtual platform. Teaching and learning will be provided as per their normal timetable.

If you have taken the decision to utilise furlough within your business for your apprentices, they can still continue with all Apprenticeship learning whilst furloughed and we would strongly encourage all apprentices to continue with their learning programmes during this lockdown wherever possible.

Separate arrangements and specific communication will be sent if End Point Assessments are scheduled this month for your apprentice, as in many instances these will continue.

If you have any queries about the above, please do not hesitate to contact your Account Manager or Head of Apprenticeship Sales and Recruitment tracie.Leahy@weston.ac.uk.

 

These are difficult times and I thank all our employer partners for their commitment to supporting their apprentices and industry placement students.

 

Communication

My priority is to ensure that learning can continue safely and effectively. Should you have any specific questions related to this communication please contact the respective faculty in which your learning is based. Further updates will be posted here and through our social media platforms. These can be accessed via the following links:

www.facebook.com/westoncollege

www.instagram.com/westoncollege

www.twitter.com/westoncollege

As stated earlier we recognise that situations can change rapidly in this pandemic and where that affects studies, we will update you promptly. Please be reassured that we are focussed both on learner safety and achievement of qualifications. We already have a fully operational Lateral Flow testing regime in place and that will become more localised when it is deemed safe for all learners to return to face to face teaching.

 

Dr Paul Phillips, CBE

Principal and Chief Executive

 

How will I be protected?

Weston College opened its doors back up in June, so we have had the opportunity to effectively implement and trial a robust approach to campus health, safety, wellbeing plans to ensure you are safe when onsite.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Every teaching space and communal area is set-up to ensure you can learn, study and socialise safely
  • Additional cleaning, extra hand-washing and sanitising facilities have been added
  • More staff are on hand to make sure everyone understands and follows the rules
  • Access to the building is through each main reception of the campus only – we are tracking and tracing all staff and students through the scanning of ID badges at barriers
  • Clear signage for a new directional system is displayed to enable safe movement around campuses
  • We have curriculum pods and dedicated zones to limit contact with others onsite
  • Face masks are mandatory in communal spaces and corridors onsite
  • Teachers will wear PPE where there is a requirement for them to work in close proximity to learners to check their work
  • Timetables have been constructed to ensure that you are in for set blocks of time - free periods have been removed where possible to reduce unnecessary movement of students
  • Blended learning (face to face and online) form part of study programmes.
  • Online resources can be accessed through Microsoft Teams, which is the platform that the College uses as its virtual learning environment.
  • We request that staff and students to continue to engage with the Track and Trace App
  • Only necessary staff and students are permitted on campus at present. All other external visitors are unable to attend under the current restrictions, all external meetings will be held virtually.
  • Reporting a COVID absence in the first instance to your tutor and your employer if you are an apprentice or on work experience. All learners will need to keep the College updated on their situation, including new symptoms and most importantly learners cannot return to site until authorised to do so.
  • Students/staff who are clinically extremely vulnerable are advised to study/work from home and not come into College. Individuals in this group will have been identified through a letter from the NHS or from their GP
  • Students/staff who live with someone who is clinically extremely vulnerable, but who are not clinically extremely vulnerable themselves, should still attend College.

What we will encourage you to do when you are on campus:
 

  • If you need to cough or sneeze, remember - Catch it! Bin it! Kill it!
  • Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly
  • Limit your movement around the campus and any unnecessary contact where possible
  • Stay in your assigned curriculum pod and learning zone
  • You will be expected to return home following any block of learning
  • Bring and use your own laptop and tablets at College (loan and bursary support is available)
  • Wear your ID badge at all times.

 

Health and wellbeing support

Welfare and Pastoral Support Services includes Welfare and Retention Officers and Counsellors providing confidential, non-judgmental support and guidance regarding a wide range of issues.

Click the buttons below to find out more about our services and how to get in touch.

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