College Update


Firstly, we hope that you and your family are staying safe and well and that you enjoyed a good half term break. At least we have been having some amazing weather!

We wanted to give you an update on the information we are able to share with you at this time about plans for returning to college.

Shortly before the half term break, we asked you to complete a survey about how you feel about returning to college.  Not all of our students and apprentices will be required to come into college before the start of the next academic year and many of you will be able to continue with remote learning for the short term at least – we are assessing who needs to come into college in the next few weeks and will be able to communicate this with you shortly.  How everyone feels about returning though is important information for us to understand and to be able to support you in the right way and at the right time. We appreciate that this is a worrying time and the prospect of returning to college may cause some anxiety but, we do want to do everything possible to support you when you come back to us.

Both students and staff have engaged incredibly well with remote working and we are extremely grateful for all the planning and effort that has been put into this. Your approach to “keep on learning” has been admirable and we know that this has been challenging at times.  

Returning to College
Recent updated guidance from the Government outlined the proposal for a phased return for some identified educational establishments from 1st June.
With guidance from the Government and other educational agencies, for those students and apprentices who are coming to the end of their course this academic year, we are planning a phased return for those who we identify as being a priority.  This will be students who may need to complete assessments or examinations to achieve their qualifications this year.  The plan for this phase is currently being developed and students who fall into this category will be contacted as soon as possible.  The return will be a managed process and will adhere to strict guidelines on minimising contact.  For all other students, we will be keeping you up to date with plans for returning to college if that is before the end of term and with a broader plan for returning to study in September. In addition to this, we will be offering some face to face support to supplement remote learning to those students who are taking key exams next year.

Planning for the return
The COVID19 Planning Team are developing a plan to implement protective measures to ensure that the college campus is as safe as possible for all. The key objective is to reduce contact as much as possible to minimise risk.  This is a huge task to undertake and one which we need to get right for both staff and students.  Once we have finalised our approach, we will share the key points with everyone.
 
Examination Results
For those of you who were due to complete your qualifications this summer, you will be aware that how qualifications are being awarded has been reviewed.

We are currently taking guidance from each awarding body for your course on how to support you with achieving your qualification. 

Depending on the type of qualifications, this varies and can be from calculating grades to adapting or delaying assessment until we are able to return to site. We are continuing to receive guidance on this and your curriculum teams will be working directly with you to support requirements and to give you further information. We encourage you to work closely with your tutors to ensure that you respond with any requests for further evidence to meet the requirements which have been set.   Exam boards will then be able to review all the evidence and confirm the qualification results to be awarded this year.
   
Recently, Ofqual published an update to this as follows:

“We are pleased to confirm today, Friday 22 May, that following consultation students will be awarded calculated grades in GCSEs, AS and A levels, the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) and Advanced Extension Award in maths (AEA) this summer, after exams were cancelled in England this summer. The majority of learners taking similar general, vocational or technical qualifications (VTQs) for progress to university or employment will also be issued calculated grades, with adapted assessments in place for many other VTQs.

Sally Collier, Chief Regulator, Ofqual, said:

‘In the unprecedented circumstances we face this summer, these exceptional arrangements are the fairest way of making sure students have the grades they need in time to progress to further study or employment. It is important that students; their parents, carers and teachers; and others who rely on these qualifications, such as universities and employers, have had an opportunity to feedback views. I would like to thank everyone who has taken the time to respond.’

University offers
For those student who have applied to UCAS, please ensure that if you are holding university offers that you respond to them by the reply by date.  The reply by dates have been extended to June due to the Coronavirus situation. For most of you the deadline will now be the 18th June, giving you more time to consider your options.  More information can be found on this link on the UCAS website.

https://www.ucas.com/undergraduate/after-you-apply/types-offer/replying-your-ucas-undergraduate-offers
 
Tutors, our Careers Team and HE Admissions Team are able to offer advice and guidance should you need this in relation to your UCAS application, whatever your circumstances.

Stay Well
We are very aware that coping with this pandemic has been stressful for many and fear and anxiety can be overwhelming.
Try and take care of yourself and those around you with some of the following ways to cope with stress:
  • Take breaks from watching reports from watching, reading and listening to news stories. Constantly being bombarded with hearing about the pandemic repeatedly is very stressful.
  • Take care of you.  Try to stay healthy, eat well, exercise regularly and get plenty of sleep.
  • And most importantly, stay connected with others.
The health and wellbeing of all of our staff and students are our priority and we will ensure that all safety measures are in place to keep us safe and well. 

We will be in contact on a regular basis from now until the end of the academic year with updates on plans.  Keep checking SC Connect and the website for updates. 

If you do have any questions, please contact the Student Services team StudentServices@swindon.ac.uk, or our Safeguarding Team safeguardingteam@swindon.ac.uk and you message will be directed to the right team member.