More colleges supporting their students and communities through coronavirus

By Philippa Alway on

From manufacturing masks to working with community organisations to provide food for the vulnerable, colleges have been doing incredible things to support their students, staff and communities. This is truly a moment to Love Our Colleges. 

We want to help everyone in the sector feel proud of the role colleges are playing through this crisis and spread the word of the work that is being done across the country. 

Colleges have digitally transformed their learning to prepare 2.2 million students with valuable employability skills in engaging and innovative ways. They are going above and beyond, collaborating with local governments, NHS organisations, community groups and other education institutions in their area to help those vulnerable and hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic at a pace never seen before. 

The work of colleges illustrates the investible proposition the Love Our Colleges campaign has been highlighting since its launch. Their work is supporting populational health, community cohesion and ensuring that students are supported as the economy transforms. 

These case studies are just a taste of what colleges are doing during this unprecedented time, and we will be posting weekly blogs on Fridays. Thank you to those who have shared your fantastic work already. We are continuing to amplify what you are doing and sharing this with government officials and the media. Send us what you're doing if and when you can.

 

 Collaborating with the NHS

 Colleges up and down the country have been donating goggles, face visors, gloves, aprons and hand sanitizer that have been left unused in many departments of colleges, from health & social care and science, to beauty therapy. Harlow College (who made the visors above), Riverside College and Burnley College, amongst many others have been using their innovation skills and tools to design, prototype and manufacture personal protective equipment too.

Other ways colleges have been supporting their local NHS is by providing accommodation for key workers, like Kingston Maurward College and Reaseheath College. Meanwhile Sheffield College has provided food for NHS workers. 

 

Students supporting their local communities

Halesowen College Health and Social Care student Abbie Checketts (above) is helping to look after and care for the residents at a residential home. Abbie is currently working at The Cedars Residential Home in Stourbridge while studying for her Level three in Health and Social Care at college. The 17-year-old from Wollaston is continuing her studies at home while working to care for the residents. Gill James, from Halesowen College, said: “Abbie is our future NHS who are keeping the country going in these very difficult times.”

Five Health and Social Care students at Coventry college are set to volunteer for Warwickshire County Council Care Sector Hub and are set to attend inductions. They will care for residents, stepping in to support staff shortages due to existing staff self-isolating. Their college training has prepared them and many of the students on the Health pathway of the Access course have previous experience of working within the health sector. Many of their Health Studies units are tailored to working within the Healthcare sector.

 

Supporting continuity of teaching and learning 
 

Teaching sport and fitness online may have seemed impossible in the past but Coventry College has turned to technology to continue to coach rugby, including using videos of previous matches. Joe Foreman, who runs the coaching and strength and conditioning training for the college’s rugby academy, moved all resources, vocational lessons, strength and conditioning programming and chats to online formats. With the use of Microsoft Teams messenger groups, video analysis, video coaching and online meetings. Students are also sent daily conditioning workouts to help them maintain fitness levels and are asked to submit clips to their messenger group, supporting group accountability and recognition.
 

Preston’s College Dance (PCD) learners have been putting digital resources to good use; keeping in touch with each other; enjoying revision sessions with their tutors and showcasing their rehearsals from home.

A variety of platforms are being used to engage with students at Portsmouth College, from using Popplets (a mind map app) to analyse poetry to using TikTok (video sharing app) to share evidence of developing skills in Dance and Sport. Psychology teachers have live streamed themselves using mini whiteboards to interpret statistics in real time (supported by the Google Hangout chat feature).

 

Supporting the wellbeing of students and staff

Personal Development has continued at Barnsley College, with daily ‘pupdates’ from their Wellbeing Dog to vulnerable learners, live tutorials, video diaries and journals as well as well-being chats. The Counsellor and Tutorial Team Leaders have been delivering three-way support with students, with the Wellbeing Officer supplying activities and resources for staff and students. Barnsley College was still able to hold their Student Council virtually and learners have continued to achieve internal ‘Connect Badges’ rewarding the acquisition of new behaviours and attitudes, even whilst in isolation.

The Counselling Team at Weston College managed to get online counselling off the ground within a week and no students had to miss their weekly session. The counselling services developed new online processes rapidly, to ensure students could easily get online, whilst ensuring all checks were in place for this new way of working. They quickly ensured BACP emergency online training alongside their own online counselling material was ready in days and trainee counsellors were approved quickly. For example, they created a Microsoft Form which is a secure way of getting students to enter confidential data online because it’s all saved behind the Weston College firewall in a confidential OneDrive.

The Sheffield College has launched a #SheffieldStayInTouch social media campaign aimed at staff, students, alumni and parents to share tips on healthy living, pets at home and keeping crafty. New initiatives in staff communication include the first ever Sheffield College Staffroom, a virtual get together via Google Meet where staff can drop in and meet online over an hour at lunchtime; as well as 'pub' style quizzes amongst other things. 

The marketing team at Bolton College are sending out a weekly student magazine to help raise the spirits of their students. The students are helping to create engaging content such as: a creative corner page, a bookworm page, a keep fit page and a page with helpful links. This is all done in addition to their remote learning studies. The college hopes to create a staff version in the future. 

Supporting the vulnerable in their communities

Langley College has unlocked the doors to its teaching kitchens, to allow the One Slough Community Response team to store and make food for the vulnerable and those self-isolating in Slough. College staff turned out to support the effort which saw volunteers preparing breakfast, lunches and hot meals for over 200 people in the community which were then distributed by Slough Outreach. Alongside providing access to their kitchen facilities, Langley College has also been designated the One Slough Community Response Hub. The College will be used to sort, store and dispatch food throughout the community and will also be the base for a Virtual Call Centre.

Innovation in supporting employers and apprentices 

Barnsley College has adapted their learning mediums and communications for employers and apprentices. They receive continual updates on how to progress their learning, and also have access to a detailed FAQ section on their website. Apprentices are engaging with learning through a variety of online solutions and weekly reviews are continuing using their e-portfolio platform, OneFile. Remote End Point Assessment (EPA) is continuing to take place where reasonably practical using the EPAO digital solutions.

The Wiltshire College and University Centre Placement Officers have worked hard to ensure that all 3000 students across Wiltshire have stopped attending their work placements for safety reasons. Instead, all students have been set employer led projects to enable them to continue gaining the vital skills and experience a work placement delivers. Project updates will be delivered via Skype conversations.