The Government today (22 February) published its plan to remove lockdown restrictions, which includes a timetable for re-opening education. There is a national roadmap for all sectors and specific further education guidance. Responding to the Prime Minister Boris Johnson's statement in Parliament, Chief Executive of AoC, David Hughes said:
“Disruption to learning due to lockdowns has been challenging for students’ education and wellbeing, so it’s good to hear the Prime Minister announce that many college students will be returning to face to face learning from next month. Colleges typically have thousands of students across varying ages, and they face a complex task now to prioritise who starts back first and how that will best meet the needs of students.
We look forward to seeing the scientific evidence which sits behind the announcement. That will be important in reassuring staff and students of the low risks involved, with the right controls in place. The requirement for mass testing will be a logistical challenge, but colleges have used lockdown to prepare their sites and it will be a crucial element of keeping students and staff safe, alongside face coverings, social distancing, ventilation, phasing and rotas.
Colleges can be trusted to make the best decisions for their students, staff and communities, as they have done since the start of the pandemic. Their focus will be on safely supporting every student to succeed at the end of their year, whether they want to progress into work, an apprenticeship, further learning in college or higher education. This roadmap gives a glimpse of the new normal, but we look forward to a long-term plan for overcoming lost learning which will be a major concern for the whole education system for the next couple of years. The return of students to colleges is positive, but it is not enough to avert a lost generation.”