Sam Parrett, CEO London and SE Education Group, explains how London South East Colleges are dealing with the college reopening process...
Throughout the lockdown period, we have been clear that although our buildings have been partially closed, the college is most certainly not. Virtual teaching and learning has been a positive experience for the majority of our staff and students and as we prepare for a wider re-opening of our campuses, digital technology will continue to play a key role.
For both existing students and new applicants, we are in the process of developing our ‘Head Start’ programme. This consists of various activities to ‘read, watch and do’ which relate to a student’s specific curriculum area, including video links, reading suggestions and some tasks. The programme is aimed at engaging students over the summer, preparing them for their new courses, enhancing study skills and ‘breaking them back in’ to learning after several months out of the classroom.
Enrolment is clearly key for all colleges to ensure a secure start to the next academic year. We are making preparations to manage this, while keeping staff and students safe. We are setting up a ‘pre-enrolment’ online system to replace the traditional face-to-face events, which we will be live from July. With students supplying details in advance, only a very brief face to face meeting will be needed (for identification purposes) – making it much easier to stay within social distancing guidelines.
Other practical measures we are currently looking at include:
- Auditing all our classrooms to ascertain the number of learners we can safely have in each one
- Developing new signage to help safe flow of students through the buildings
- Removing furniture in classrooms to create more space
- Ensuring we have sufficient PPE in areas that require this (high needs, vulnerable learners etc)
Priority students have already been identified. We have been providing face to face care throughout the lockdown for those with EHCPs, looked after children, students with SEN and those whose parents are key workers.
We are now in the process of identifying (in line with Government guidelines) the next groups of students who should be coming into college. These include apprentices and students on two-year courses who are progressing onto higher qualifications. In addition, we are also looking at students who have engaged less well with remote learning (especially at entry and level one) and those required to complete exams and skills tests.