The College is following Government advice carefully and responding promptly to all updates. We are keeping students up to date with current advice, which is also available on Moodle. Here is the Government’s information and advice page, which is updated daily: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-the-public
There are general principles anyone can follow to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including:
- washing your hands often - with soap and water, or use alcohol sanitiser if handwashing facilities are not available. This is particularly important after taking public transport
- covering your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throwing the tissue in a bin. See Catch it, Bin it, Kill it
- people who feel unwell should stay at home and should not attend work or any education or childcare setting
- pupils, students, staff and visitors should wash their hands:
- before leaving home
- on arrival at school
- after using the toilet
- after breaks and sporting activities
- before food preparation
- before eating any food, including snacks
- before leaving school
- use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available
- avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
- avoid close contact with people who are unwell
- clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
- if you are worried about your symptoms or those of a child or colleague, please call NHS 111. Do not go directly to your GP or other healthcare environment
Annex to Child Protection Policy 2019-20 (updated 15/06/20)
The purpose of this annex to the College Child Protection Policy is to outline amendments and additions to the existing policy, necessitated by the COVID-19 crisis. It will be updated as necessary to reflect any further changes. This annex, and any subsequent changes to it, will be available on the College public website and will be made available to all members of the College staff via email and College intranet (Sharepoint).
Other important safeguarding information is regularly communicated to staff, students and parents via College intranet and email.
1 Safeguarding Priorities during summer term 2020 – awareness of increased vulnerability
During this period of ongoing remote learning, (alongside some limited face to face contact) we remain committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of all our students. At this time, we are aware that students may be under increased pressure and may face additional risks to their safety and wellbeing. Negative experiences and distressing life events, such as the current circumstances, can affect the mental health of students and their parents. Staff will be aware of this in setting expectations of students’ work while they are at home.
Pastoral and welfare staff are supporting students on-site and via email and mobile phone.
Small numbers of students will be in College at any one time, always by prior arrangement, to work independently or with an LSA, to access specialist resources and equipment or to attend an appointment. No student should come to College without prior arrangement.
2 Roles and Responsibilities – communicating concerns
College Reception is staffed during normal working hours and students, parents and those outside the College community can report a concern by phoning the main College number: 01206 500700 and asking to speak to a safeguarding lead or deputy.
All staff must be vigilant in identifying potential safeguarding concerns. Teachers should be aware that a student who persistently fails to respond to email communication might be at risk, and they should therefore pass on this information.
The Designated Safeguarding Lead continues to take the lead role in managing child protection. The DSL or Deputy will be available during the standard College day (9am-4pm, Monday to Friday, during term-time) and can be contacted via email:
Designated Safeguarding Lead: Jo Cadman email@example.com
Deputy Designated Safeguarding Lead: Graham Rayner firstname.lastname@example.org
In addition, all Senior Tutors are level 3 safeguarding trained and are authorised to act as Deputies when necessary.
Division 1 Adrian Frost email@example.com
Division 2 Andrew Hathaway firstname.lastname@example.org
Division 3 Mark Griffin-Sherwood email@example.com
Division 4 Graham Rayner firstname.lastname@example.org
Division 5 Sarah Prince email@example.com
Division 6 Sarah Palmer firstname.lastname@example.org
Division 7 Neil Kelly email@example.com
Division 8 Anne Johnson firstname.lastname@example.org
The DSL, DDSL and Senior Tutors can also be contacted by College staff via mobile phone (numbers held in staff directory on Sharepoint)
3 Vulnerable Students
Vulnerable students include those who have a social worker and those students with special educational needs or disabilities who have an EHCP and/ or for whom we receive Higher Level Funding.
These students are encouraged to work in College.
Pastoral staff and LSAs are maintaining regular contact with students in this group, whether they are working on site or remotely. Other students who are known to be vulnerable (but do not fit into the official classification) are also being monitored by pastoral staff. We are continuing to liaise with staff from other agencies who are involved in the care of our most vulnerable students, including social workers and mental health workers.
Further information for parents/carers about changes to statutory duties relating to SEND can be found here in a letter from Essex County Council’s Director of Education:
4 Online Safety
Although our filtering systems continue to operate, we recognise the fact that most students will not be accessing the Internet through College systems while at home. However, given the age of our student cohort, they are well equipped to handle exposure to this risk and they have received education about online safety via the College Tutorial programme. Further information and sources of support for students and parents are available on the Safeguarding section of the College website.
Contact with students, for the purposes of teaching and learning, reviewing progress and providing pastoral care will include the use of on-line video platforms Zoom and Team. Protocols have been put in place to ensure their safe use.
4 Multi-agency Safeguarding Partnership Advice
We continue to work closely with our safeguarding partners, and we will ensure that our practice is consistent with their advice. Frequently updated, comprehensive information and advice from Essex Safeguarding Children Board can be found here:
In addition, the Essex Child and Family wellbeing Service has created a new resource hub for parents, covering a wide range of topics: https://essexfamilywellbeing.co.uk/covid-19-pandemic-resource-hub/
5 Staff-related Issues
Any concern that a member of staff may pose a safeguarding risk should be reported in the usual manner. Staff may choose to disclose a concern to their line manager or other senior manager or report directly to the Principal or his designate, usually the DSL or Senior Manager (HR). Any concern relating to a member of staff will be reported to the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO).
We continue to adhere to all Safer Recruitment Guidance, in accordance with our Recruitment Policy. In response to COVID-19, the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) has made changes to its guidance on standard and enhanced DBS ID checking to minimise the need for face-to-face contact.
Start of 2020/21 year timetable and curriculum provision arrangements, Year 2 re-enrolment
- Subject teachers will direct Year 2 students to work to be completed from 1st September through to 9th September. This is likely to include guidance with regards to the preparations for your Internal Assessments in each of your subjects in the 21st-25th September period.
- Tuesday 8th September - Year 2 re-enrolment and Tutorial:
- Year 2 students will return to College on the 8th September for a half day, at either 09:30am or 13:00pm, and will meet in their designated Personal Tutor base/room for a 2.5 hour re-enrolment and Tutorial session. Your specific individual arrangement will have been communicated to you this week in the (Zoom) Tutorial. If you are unclear with regards to your specific arrangement please email your Personal Tutor to clarify. In this session you will finalise and confirm your Year 2 courses and complete a Year 2 enrolment form and questionnaire, compile a timetable ready for teaching on 10th September. There will also be progression and other important Tutorial activities and materials.
- Period from Thursday 10th September, start of teaching classes:
- A 3 phase curriculum provision plan will be in place for the start of the 2020/21 academic year. We are very much hoping that we can return to our normal, or near normal, arrangements in October or immediately after Half Term:
Phase 1 (10th September to most likely 2nd October, possibly a week earlier or possibly later – the ‘end date’ to be determined following reviews and developing circumstances):
- We will use a similar temporary timetable blocking system to the arrangements used 6th-10th July (2 extended timetable blocks per day, AM and PM) – with staggered (2) start/finish and comfort break times (detail emailed/on Moodle).
- Academic teaching groups will be initially generally ‘split’ into 2 half week cohorts. A level students and Applied General course students will have one 2.5 hour onsite small group teaching lesson per week in each subject and in general courses with less than the normal level of 8 periods of contact will have approximately 60% of the normal teaching time in a session. Therefore, the majority of Year 2 students will be attending onsite on 2 or 3 of the days each week in the Phase 1 period. Alongside these relatively small and intensive teaching classes, subject staff will set their students work and direct you to supported self-study.
- We will generally operate as in the 6th-10th July period ‘split’ academic teaching groups – and groups will generally be 7-11 in size. Where groups are relatively small and do not need to be split, staff will provide their group with their entire timetable time within the 2 blocks of Phase 1 timetabled time available. You will be allocated to the same groups as in the 6th-10th July period. The allocations will be confirmed to you in the 1st-8th September period.
- The postponed May Internal Assessments are to be held in the week of 21st-25th September. The exams and assessments will all be completed within one week. There will be a maximum of one 2.5 hours assessment per subject – held in the same class grouping and timetable slot and rooming that Year 2 students will otherwise be in for teaching classes in Phase 1.
- A later start to the day (to minimise use of public transport in peak times) and staggered (2) start/end times for lessons and break times – first Year 2 classes starting at 09:30am and the last classes ending at 16:00pm (a slight variation to the arrangements used 6th-10th July – detail emailed/on Moodle). Please note that the timings of the Year 1 classes will be different.
- Students will be registered in each of their timetabled subject lessons but to ensure that your pastoral support continues effectively, students will also have one weekly onsite central Registration/Tutorial with their Personal Tutor - which will be on one of the days when you are in for subject lessons. Personal Tutors will tell you which Registration/Tutorial you should attend when your individual subject class timetable is available. The sizes of the daily subsets of Personal Tutor groups are therefore likely to be between 5-12 students in size.
- In addition, students will receive via email and Moodle regular centrally prepared Tutorial materials (largely through audio narrated PowerPoints). These materials will help support your reintroduction to working in College and your next steps towards progression beyond College. Your re-enrolment session on 8th September, in morning or afternoon sessions (see the earlier section), will also include Tutorial materials on these topics. Personal Tutors will also offer further one to one guidance as they normally would. This might be on site or via Zoom/Teams.
- Most Additional Studies and a few of our qualification-based courses that use software, will commence on a remote basis (e.g. College Magazine, Financial Certificate), as will many of our normal extra-curricular activities and experiences (e.g. Holocaust Memorial Programme). The start of a few activities will need to be either delayed or postponed (e.g. Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award).
- Students will generally only be expected to be on the College site for their timetabled teaching lessons and their Registration/Tutorial arrangements (and the periods in between their timetabled sessions). There will be very limited social and catering facilities available for most students and independent study facilities will also be relatively limited. However, vulnerable students or other students who gain Personal Tutor/Senior Tutor approval (e.g. those with particular needs or acute transport complications) will of course be more fully accommodated with a wider range of facilities. There will be a few adjustments including to the access arrangements within the main building.
- It is very important that we maintain a safe environment for everyone and a range of PPE, social distancing, other mitigation measures and a series of requirements and instructions will be in place – building upon our arrangements and experiences within the 6th-10th July period. There will, for example, be changes made to the main building access arrangements used in July. All students will need to have face coverings for each visit to the College – which will also be needed for use of public transport and indeed now for any visits to retail premises.
Phase 2 (most likely commencing from 5th October, or possibly a week earlier or later, to be kept under review):
Phase 2 may be relatively short - perhaps just a week or two.
- Continue to use the temporary abnormal timetable structure used in both Phase 1 and 6th-10th July.
- Move to ‘whole academic groups’ – and you will therefore receive your full ‘normal’ level of onsite face to face academic teaching classes (e.g. 4 hours 40 minutes per week for an A level course).
- Personal Tutor Registration/Tutorial sessions will continue as Phase 1, with the possibility of introducing a second session per week for each student.
- Some further adjustments in mitigation measures and operational arrangements.
- Other arrangements broadly as in Phase 1.
Phase 3 (starting date to be kept under review – but hopefully at some point in October or after Half Term):
- Move to our ‘normal’ timetable arrangement – with students required to be onsite for 5 days a week. There will also be normal daily Registration and Thursday Tutorial arrangements.
- We also hope to be able to move most Additional Studies courses from remote arrangements to normal delivery methods.
- The 3 phase framework largely builds, progressively, upon the models and arrangements we have used between 6th–10th July.
Students will be given their Phase 3 timetable on 8th September so that they are aware of the ‘normal’ framework that will apply in due course.
- These arrangements are in the context of a changing but still potentially volatile and dynamic abnormal scenario regarding the local, UK and global levels of coronavirus, and the related Government requirements, guidelines and frameworks (including those for public transport. Our aim is to maintain the safety, health and wellbeing of all in our community whilst doing our best to provide our students with the best possible levels of educational experience we can in the circumstances.
- The Phase 1 and 2 aspects of the plan will not be ‘perfect’ – and indeed these arrangements, or any others, are a compromise relating to a range of factors applicable, many of which effectively ‘compete’ against each other. The period ahead will continue to require us all to be flexible and to be willing to problem solve and consider making accommodations and adjustments. A number of ‘micro’ issues and problems relating to implementation of Phases 1 and 2 will exist or will emerge, and we will all need to try to be pragmatic in our attempts to find workable and reasonable solutions. We also need to keep our arrangements under review in the context of the national and local developments, Government requirements and guidelines.
- Where applicable, in late August please check arrangements with your public transport provider with regards to the levels of service and capacity that will be in place for early September. Most bus and train operators have recently returned to providing near normal service levels – and most bus companies have recently increased their capacity levels. We expect that their arrangements will be regularly reviewed and that further adjustments could well be made for the period from early September onwards. Arising from the abnormal circumstances at present most of the bus and train operators have not published their fares and season ticket rates for the period from September – but we expect them to do this over the next few weeks. Please contact the relevant operators in the mid to late August period to check – and as we have the information made available to us we will update the Travel/Transport sections of the website with this information.
Sources of support in the period immediately ahead:
I understand that some of you will have faced very difficult circumstances in the past few months. If you are in need of immediate help during the next few weeks, while we are on summer vacation, please go to the Safeguarding section of the College website:
Senior staff will again be available in College from 11th August onwards and can be contacted either via email or by phoning the main College switchboard (01206 500700).
I am also sending this communication to your parents/carers to also keep them in the picture.
I hope you now have a really good Summer break. This has clearly been a very abnormal and challenging period for us all and we have had to adapt and be pragmatic. There is every reason to feel positive regarding the period ahead and staff at the College will try to help you as much as possible.
15th July 2020
The process of purchasing a First Essex bus pass has changed from this term.
First Bus will now be selling mTickets via the Student Travel Club (STC). This new ticket service will enable instant access to your bus pass, on your smart phone, whilst still receiving the benefit of the discounted rate unique to students of The Sixth Form College, Colchester. The mTicket discounted rates are more competitive than those of the ‘paper’ season ticket and offer a wider range of ticket options which include Annual, Termly, Monthly and 10/12 single journey.
Details of how to purchase your mTicket
- Go to the following link: https://www.firstgroup.com/essex/ctc
- Register an account. Enter customer details to create an account. Please retain username and password information – these details will be required for future purchases.
- When completing the registration form please note. these will be the details of the person that will make the payments.
- Select Employer: You will see a drop-down menu – please select STC Colchester Sixth Form College.
- Enter company email address: You will be prompted to verify your account (attendance at The Sixth Form College, Colchester). Please enter your student college email address ending in @colchsfc.ac.uk
- You will be sent an email to complete the registration process. Once you have received this, click on the link, to verify your account (please note, the verification email is not sent out immediately).
- You now have set up your account successfully.
- Download the First Bus App to your smart phone and set up an mTicket account on the app. It is important that an mTicket account is created – as this is where your mTicket will be sent.
DETAILS OF PRICES FOR 2020/2021
10 SINGLE JOURNEYS
12 SINGLE JOURNEYS
What if I do not have a smart phone?
For students who do not have the facility to purchase an mTicket. They may apply for a ‘paper’ ticket via the college General Office. We take card payment for this option via the College general office. Contact No: 01206 500700. Please note, if you purchase a paper ticket you will be required to supply an up to date passport photo upon collection of your bus pass from the General Office. Prices for a ‘paper’ ticket are slightly higher and include an administration fee of £5.00. Please allow 5-10 working days for these to be processed.
Information sheets are available from the General Office.
The Sixth Form College, Colchester
T 01206 500716
This document is aimed primarily at parents, although it is also being made available to students for information. Students will receive further briefings during the enrolment period, with more detailed, practical guidance.
You will no doubt have heard a lot of discussion in the media about the government arrangements re “return to school” for children in September, which involves all school pupils returning full-time, with protective factors such as year group bubbles in place. The government framework for 16-18 year olds, young adults, in colleges is somewhat different: some of the measures being put in place in schools are not practical (e.g. our year group bubble would consist of 1500 students and would therefore do very little to mitigate risk). In colleges, the government believes that the students have the young adult maturity to take more responsibility for their safety and they are also able to cope better with “blended learning”, combining classroom study with work undertaken at home.
Abnormal Timetable Arrangements
Your son/daughter will receive their personal teaching timetable on 8th September (second years) or 9th September (first years). They will see their “normal” timetable, to which we will return when it is safe to do so, and also their initial individual timetable for the Phase 1 period, with one long lesson per subject per week in College. Classes will be split in half during this Phase 1 period and your son/daughter will attend one of two long lessons per week. They will access the lesson they don’t attend via streaming/recording or other off-site supported study. Most of these resources will be accessible via a smartphone but students will benefit from being able to use a computer or laptop at home. If your son/daughter has no access to IT facilities, they should speak to their Senior Tutor. There will also be directed homework, e.g. essays to write, problem sheets etc. – which will vary according to the subject.
The duration of the abnormal timetable arrangements will be kept under review and will largely depend on factors outside the College’s control, such as Government guidance and the local and national rates of infection.
Getting to College
We know that the majority of our students rely on public transport. You will have seen from recent communications that many of the bus companies are responding positively to our request to increase the level of service provision. We anticipate that there will also be plenty of capacity on trains. Nevertheless, if your son/daughter is able to walk or cycle to College, that would be ideal. If you are dropping off or collecting your son/daughter by car, please be aware that you must not come on-site. Stopping places on North Hill are extremely limited and we expect the roads to be busy from the 1st September. We would advise you to drop off or meet your son/daughter at Middleborough or another place slightly outside the town centre.
Arriving at College
Outside College buildings, students are not required to wear face coverings, as long as they are maintaining social distancing. On entering a building, students will be required to put on a face covering. Face coverings should be worn whenever students are in a College building but not in a lesson. A small number of students will have a specific difficulty which makes wearing a face covering impossible. In these cases, Senior Tutors will issue a pass, which students should be ready to show if challenged by a member of staff.
All students should clean their hands on arrival and frequently during the time they are at College, either by washing thoroughly or using hand sanitiser. We will be providing sanitiser at each entrance and at other points around College but it would be helpful if your son/daughter could bring their own small bottle, to avoid queues forming.
In most subjects, your son/daughter’s initial lessons in Phase 1 will be in groups of students of between 8-12 in size. Although there is no requirement in government guidance for students to observe a particular social distance in classrooms, the small numbers in these half groups will allow for a good level of social distancing between students, usually exceeding “1 metre plus”. Students are not required to wear face coverings in lessons, but they are welcome to do so, if they wish to. Teachers may ask students to wipe down desks at the beginning or end of lessons, and cleaning materials will be available in each classroom. Teachers have been advised to maintain social distance, so some normal lesson activities will be constrained by this.
Spending time in College
Normally, we would be encouraging students to spend any “free” periods between lessons in College studying. However, in order to minimise numbers on site, we will be asking students to arrive in time for a lesson (or meeting with their tutor) and to leave immediately when their timetabled commitments have finished for the day. The only exceptions will be for students classed as “vulnerable” and those whose travel arrangements do not allow them to leave immediately. There will be sufficient socially distanced study spaces for these students to work in College.
Lunchtimes, food and drink
Students are welcome to remain on site at lunch time if they have a lesson in the morning and the afternoon. There will be a limited food service from our refectories but students are encouraged to bring in their own lunch and they should also bring a bottle of water. Students can eat lunch in the refectories and in most public areas of the College (except where there are computers).
We have instituted an enhanced cleaning regime. In addition to a thorough clean in the morning or evening, each classroom will be cleaned at lunchtime, between the morning and afternoon lesson.
Illness, symptoms of COVID 19
If your son/daughter has any of the major symptoms of COVID 19 (high temperature, new persistent cough, loss of taste/smell) they should not come to College. Please book a test via the NHS website. Then notify the College of the situation. When you receive the result, please notify the College again. We will of course be liaising with Public Health England and the Track and Trace service in the event of any case of coronavirus.
If your son/daughter develops any of these symptoms while at College, they should tell a member of staff immediately and we will contact you so that you can arrange their transport home.
We would not expect students to stay at home with minor cold symptoms but if your son/daughter has flu-like symptoms or any illness with a temperature, they should not come to College, and you should seek medical advice.
Be aware that, from Monday, it is illegal to meet more than 6 people, inside or outside. This does not apply in College but will apply as soon as you leave the site, so you must not congregate with more than 5 friends before coming in to College or when you leave. You could face a fine of £100 each!
Do continue to comply with the rules regarding face coverings on public transport.
Thank you for following the rules so well in College, including following the one way system and keeping your distance. You have also been sporting a wonderful array of masks!
Jo Cadman - Assistant Principal, Designated Safeguarding Lead
We hope your son/daughter has enjoyed their first few lessons back in the classroom. We know that this is a very challenging time for them and we have given them a great deal of information recently – and they can expect more going forward. It is really important that students read, digest and respond to information, requirements and guidelines given. We are contacting you to provide you with some of the key information that your son/daughter should already be aware of.
Later in the term, you will also receive a link to our updated electronic parents’ handbook, which will contain more detailed information about our “normal” arrangements and about how we keep you informed. I am sure you will understand that some of these arrangements, for example the placing of parents’ consultation evenings, are currently under review. The College website is also kept up to date with the latest announcements.
Teaching and Learning
Our current abnormal arrangements are under constant review. We all want students to have a full time College experience and we will move towards this goal as soon as it is safe to do so. We would hope to move from Phase 1 to Phase 2 in the period ahead – but clearly, we are monitoring the external context regarding levels of Covid and also responding to the Government requirements and guidance for the FE sector. Both of these are subject to change.
Please note that your son/daughter’s printed timetable, which is available on Moodle, is their “normal” timetable, to which we will return when it is safe to do so. The normal timetable shows the correct blocks for each subject and your son/daughter has filled in a blank version of the temporary timetable, using those blocks.
As you know, we are currently operating a “blended” approach, with half the lesson time in the classroom, with only half the teaching group, and the other timetable slot being filled with off-site supported self-study. This can take a number of forms, depending on the circumstances, and your son/daughter’s teachers will have explained the approach for each subject during their first face to face lesson. Teachers will also be emailing students to explain or to remind them of the arrangements for their classes, so your son/daughter should check their College email at least twice a day (it will help if they have it on their phone).
One of the main approaches being used is the streaming and recording of lessons via Teams. This is a new system for us and the majority of departments have been trying it out with second year classes, preferring to teach first year students in person initially, and set structured work for the other timetable slot. In many instances, there will be a shift towards more streamed lessons once first year students have attended their first “induction” lessons and settled in. We do not underestimate the skills and maturity needed to “listen in” to a streamed or recorded lesson being taught to the other half of the group. In some subjects, for example practical subjects, this approach will not be appropriate and students might instead do the practical element of their course in College, with theory lessons delivered through structured study materials. Please note that, although your son/daughter is only attending half of the timetabled block at present, the teacher is teaching both sessions in the week, with half the class at a time.
IT facilities and resources
If your son/daughter has no access to IT facilities at home, we may be able to help. We have asked students to let their Personal Tutor know. The current arrangements have also meant that we have had to ask students to purchase learning resources in some cases, because it is not safe to share sets of textbooks between classes. If there are financial difficulties, your son/daughter should contact their Senior Tutor. We have a discretionary student support fund, in addition to the bursary arrangements, to help with educational expenses where there is a need.
As a College student, your son/daughter can download the Microsoft Office 365 suite for use at home or on their personal device here: https://portal.office.com/ They will then have to sign in with their College email address and password. On the next screen they will find a button called “Install Office” click this to download Office (including Word, Excel and OneDrive). They can download the Teams app for desktop or mobile from Microsoft here: https://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/microsoft-365/microsoft-teams/download-app The links are on the College website (www.colchsfc.ac.uk), scroll to the bottom of the homepage and look for the Online Services section.
Thank you for keeping us informed about any absences due to self-isolation. There have been a number of instances where students’ younger siblings have been sent home from school, with a temperature or other symptoms, so the whole household is required to isolate pending test results. Students have, without exception, been very responsible in staying away from College. We have not as yet had any notification of either a student or any of their household receiving a positive result. Should this happen, please do contact us straightaway, so we can seek and follow as soon as possible the appropriate guidance to keep everyone safe.
Second Year Students
Next week, second years will be undertaking assessments in exam conditions, (to replace the assessments which would have taken place in the summer term). These assessments will be taking place within the current timetable lesson times. They will be an important indicator of progress at this stage, but students will have further opportunities to practise taking exams before the summer.
Students have been notified of their provisional predicted grades for UCAS. These grades are not yet fixed and could still be influenced by performance in the September assessments and subsequent work submitted. Students intending to apply for university should be actively working on their applications now. Materials which will help them with both UCAS applications and job applications have been sent out centrally. There is plenty of help available, from Personal Tutors, Senior Tutors and Careers staff, who are offering appointments. In addition, there is a wealth of material on Moodle Careers.
Jo Cadman - Assistant Principal
We hope that you have now settled into your classes and the College more generally, despite the abnormal and very challenging times we are still in re Covid-19.
Can we say thank you for your cooperation with our requests, requirements and expectations this term with regard to measures to help stop the spread of Covid-19. You will be well aware that the levels of coronavirus in the UK have risen, alarmingly, in recent weeks following the higher rates of incidence in most European countries in the Summer. The Prime Minister has described the current UK situation as ‘a perilous corner’ and the Government has highlighted that the current growth rate is exponential. The Government alert level has recently been raised from 3 to 4 and as a result you will be well aware that the Government has recently introduced some new restrictions in England in an attempt to protect public health.
Please can we remind you that we must all comply with Government requirements and restrictions which apply outside of the College estate, particularly the relatively new “rule of 6” and social distancing guidelines. We must not congregate in groups larger than 6 when in areas outside of the College premises. Please be particularly mindful of members of the public as you leave the site: and please make way for pedestrians so that they can observe social distancing.
In addition, can we remind you that you are required to wear face coverings at all times when using public transport services and that regular washing or sanitising of hands is really important – and this includes upon your arrival at College after you have travelled to College.
You should also follow any NHS/Public Health England/Government advice given to you if you are at any point asked to self-isolate.
You may wish to consider signing up for the new NHS App launched last week and the Government have recently asked us to remind you that there is a DfE Helpline available for students and parents if you would like general guidance - 0800 046 8687.
The seasonal temperature levels have dropped markedly in the last week or so - but in the current abnormal circumstances it is important to continue to maintain good levels of ventilation and air circulation within our buildings as a precautionary measure re Covid-19. Where possible we would like to keep a good number of windows and doors open. All students and staff are therefore now advised/encouraged to ensure that they wear warm clothing when attending the College site and when within classes.
Teaching and Learning
After very careful consideration and in the context of the rising levels of infection, we have concluded that for the time being we need to continue with our current ‘Phase 1’ arrangements for somewhat longer - so your current (Phase 1) timetable will be unchanged for the immediate period ahead. From Monday 5 October you will therefore continue to have one long “quad” lesson in each subject in ‘half groups’, with supported self-study for the remaining time (for A levels). Your teachers have been determining the best way to deliver the off-site teaching and learning for each specific subject and will be explaining their approach and their plans in each subject to you now that Year 1 Subject Induction and the Year 2 Internal Assessments have been completed. Note, these arrangements are likely to be different for each of your subjects. We very much hope that in the period ahead the rates of incidence of Covid-19 diminish and we will be able to progress to our Phase 2 arrangements.
You may have questions about arrangements, we have attempted to answer some of them below:
Why can’t I study at home full-time at present?
We know that some of you are anxious about attending College, as Covid-19 levels rise nationwide. However, we are operating under Government guidance for FE that tells us that we should provide onsite, face to face lessons, as part of a package called ‘blended learning’. Currently, shielding is paused so, even if you are in a vulnerable group or live with someone who is vulnerable, the Government guidance confirms that everyone in education should attend. Our teaching and learning plans are based upon the blended approach and teachers have full teaching timetables in College and cannot deliver the different kinds of resources needed for fully remote learning, to individual students. We have very good safety measures securely in place and our Phase 1 arrangements ensure that the College is not crowded, so you can maintain a relatively safe distance from others when you come in for your lessons.
What will happen if I have to self-isolate and can’t come into College?
We will support you if you have to be absent from College for a short period of time, to work from home if that is possible, or to catch up later if you are ill. The off-site supported self-study resources being developed by your teachers are designed as part of a blended approach but, in the short term, they will be useful in helping you to keep up with what your class is doing. Many teachers are also recording and streaming parts of lessons on Teams.
Why can’t we move to Phase 2 or the normal full-time timetable?
You may have siblings and friends who are attending school full-time and this is in accord with Government schools sector guidelines. You may not be aware that the Government guidance is different for colleges – and different again for universities. We are included in the Further Education sector, where students are older and more mature than the majority in the schools sector. Unlike schools, we are required to assess how much onsite teaching and learning we can deliver safely. Some of the safety measures schools can use, such as year group “bubbles” don’t work for Post 16 education, with over 1700 students in one year group and students studying very different combinations of A level and other courses. And because you take 3 or more subjects, from a choice of over 50 subjects, we cannot separate students by subject either. Each of you has a timetable which is unique to you. Schools and universities clearly have a range of different and difficult issues and constraints which are currently influencing and challenging them.
The College operates in a context. When it was established over 30 years ago by the Government, it was situated on a relatively small town-centre site, our accommodation includes some historic buildings, there are limited numbers of entrances and exits and we have just one narrow drive and two small passageways to access the site. Phase 1 arrangements ensure that there is plenty of space and allow for relatively good levels of social distancing.
How long will these arrangements go on for?
The honest answer is we really don’t know and what arrangements are possible going forward will obviously depend upon the external changing coronavirus context and Government guidelines and requirements. We will of course keep our arrangements under constant review. We all really want to return to ‘normal’ full time teaching and learning in College as soon as we can do so safely.
We know that you will want to plan ahead, particularly with your transport arrangements, and we will give you at least a week’s notice of any changes in arrangements.
Why aren’t all my teachers planning to ‘stream’ all their lessons on Teams?
Some lessons or parts of lessons work well on Teams, especially those which involve teacher explanation, using Powerpoint, or a similar resource. Second years found such lessons really valuable during lockdown. However, those lessons were delivered by a teacher just to students at home. Now, teachers are delivering the materials to the half of the class in the classroom so, if you are at home, you are generally listening in to a class which is being taught to others. That is quite a challenge, especially for nearly two and a half hours. In many subjects, your teachers will want to support you in other ways, in addition to or instead of Teams streaming/recording. Classroom activities are varied and teacher explanation is only a part of what happens in a lesson. Your teacher might therefore prioritise class discussion within the lesson, with a narrated Powerpoint or structured activity for your off-site learning.
Your teachers cannot teach your half of the class remotely when you are at home separately because, although you are only in just over half of the normal lesson time, your teachers are teaching all of the lessons. Halving the size of the groups in which you are taught provides benefit while you are in classes but means doubling the number of groups, but with the same number of teachers!
All students will be told what the teaching and learning plans for their subject are over the next few days.
What will happen to public exams in summer 2021?
The Government has previously stated (in July and again in early and mid-September 2020) that it is committed to ensuring Summer 2021 exams going ahead. There has been a suggestion that exams could be scheduled later in the summer in 2021 – but as yet the Government has not made any decisions or announcements regarding the possible rescheduling of public exams (A, AG and GCSE) for Summer 2021. In early September a Government Minister communicated that a decision would be announced in mid-September but on 16 September the Secretary of State for Education indicated that a decision will not now be announced until October. When the Government and its agencies make decisions and provide detail regarding 2021 exam and assessment arrangements we will of course let you and your parents know. Exam boards have also been asked to look at specifications and exam papers and adapt them. As yet, none of the plans have been published.
We feel that you can be confident though, that final pass rates and grades will not be allowed, by the Government, to plummet this summer. Particularly with regards to current second year students. We feel there is a very strong recognition of the challenges your year group has had to face and the Government will undoubtedly wish you to be awarded with just as good grades as in previous year groups, so you can go on and fulfil your plans to progress to university and good careers.
Will there be Autumn Term Parents’ Evenings?
Progress Reviews will be held in November and we plan to hold Parents’ Consultation Evenings, for Year 1 and Year 2 students in late November (currently scheduled for Tuesday 24 November, Thursday 26 November and Tuesday 1 December) although it clearly may not be possible for these to occur ‘in person and on site’ as we need to limit the number of personnel and visitors onsite. The format for these evenings will be determined and communicated closer to the time, paying due regard to changing Covid-19 restrictions.
Don’t forget to access the Tutorial materials being sent out to you each week. First year Tutorials have particularly been focusing on how to become a successful student; second year Tutorial materials have focused on progression (careers and higher education) and are now moving on to the theme of emotional resilience.
Also read the daily Student Bulletin and weekly Careers Bulletin and be sure to check your College email daily.
Talk to your teachers if you are having academic difficulties: they will be able to advise you of the extra support available in each department. The Learning Support department may also be able to help. Email Learningsupport@colchsfc.ac.uk
If you are concerned about your emotional wellbeing, talk to your Personal Tutor or Senior Tutor. You can also drop into the Welfare Hub (room 124) or email email@example.com. You can also request counselling, either face to face or via email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We do understand that this is a very difficult time for you, indeed for us all, and we really appreciate that our students are responding to the situation with maturity and with resilience. Maintaining the health of our students and staff is a priority – we are also mindful of the need to reduce the risk of a high rate of spread in the wider community.