Information about Coronavirus (COVID-19)

 

Principal’s video update

 

Due to the ongoing challenges and uncertainty in relation to COVID-19, the College has now suspended face to face teaching and learning to students across all campuses. This also applies to client groups at our employment hub on the Kingsway. 

We have now moved to online learning and remote delivery only.

Our priority over the coming weeks will be supporting our students and staff as we make this transition.

A message to our students from Principal Mark Jones
A message to parents/guardians from Principal Mark Jones
message to employers and the business community from Principal Mark Jones

We thank you for your continuing patience and cooperation at a very difficult time.

Stay safe

Mark Jones
Principal 

***

This dedicated webpage features FAQs to help support our staff, students, parents and others at this challenging time. It will include useful links to the most up to date guidance from Government, public health organisations and the NHS.

We encourage all staff and students to check this webpage regularly and follow our social media feeds:

Twitter: @GowerCollegeSwa
Facebook: www.facebook.com/gowercollegeswansea

Information and guidance about Coronavirus Keeping you safe Keeping you well Information for students Information about course progression Information about exams Information for applicants Information for apprentice employers Information for parents/guardians Travel plans Useful links

Information and guidance about Coronavirus

Where can I find the latest guidance?

The situation is evolving rapidly. Staff and students are asked to visit and check the following websites for the latest updates and guidance:

Public Health Wales
GOV.UK
Guidance for educational settings

Welsh Government guidance for education

Welsh Government have issued information about further, higher and work based learning education during the coronavirus pandemic.

Please see some useful links below:

Current guidance on further education
Current guidance on higher education
Current guidance on work based learning and apprenticeships

What can I do to help reduce the spread of the virus?

Just like the common cold, the Coronavirus usually occurs through close contact with a person who has the infection or by touching contaminated surfaces if you do not wash your hands correctly.

There are some simple things that you can do to prevent the spread of Coronavirus and look after yourself and those around you. Here are some guidelines to help you:

  • Frequently clean hands by using soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • When coughing and sneezing cover your mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue.
  • Make sure your work station i.e. PC/laptop/phone is cleaned appropriately.

Should I self-isolate?

If you have a new continuous cough and/or a high temperature, the current advice from Public Health Wales is that you should self-isolate.

Full guidance on self-isolation and symptoms can be found on their website. You can also use the NHS Direct Wales symptom checker 

If you need to self-isolate, contact the College and record your absence asap - please do not come in.

If you are a member of staff, please follow the normal absence procedure.

If you are a student, please report your absence online. You will also need to let the College’s Health Advisors know by contacting 01792 284077 or 01792 890721.

Your EMA will not be affected as long as you report your absence for this period. 

Keeping you safe

What actions are we taking?

We will continue to take guidance from the Government and will base any decisions on their advice. You can find the latest information and advice on coronavirus on the Public Health Wales website and the latest guidance for educational settings on the GOV.UK website.

The College’s Senior Management Team is meeting frequently to ensure we have the most up to date information and that risk is continually assessed to enable us to take appropriate action if required.

Is the College operating as normal?

As our campuses are closed to both students and staff, we are now working remotely with our whole College community to deliver business as usual, so please try and stay in touch with us. 

We are responding to emails and other messages as quickly as possible, but unfortunately are unable to answer some of our landline numbers. Staff with College mobile phones will continue to use them.

We will aim to support you as much as possible while working remotely during normal College working hours.  

Our priority over the coming days and weeks will be supporting our students and staff as we make this transition. 

If you have a general query, please email us info@gcs.ac.uk and we will get back you as soon as we are able to.

We thank you for your continuing patience and cooperation at a very difficult time.

Is the College allowing external visitors?

Wherever possible, we are aiming to undertake meetings etc. remotely.

For our commissioned contractors, it is currently business as usual.

Any scheduled talks with guest speakers will be postponed unless undertaken remotely.

I need to contact a Safeguarding Officer

Student support officers and safeguarding officers availability over Easter break.

Although the College campuses are currently closed, you will still be able to contact the following members of staff.

Safeguarding Officers (for full time, part time students and apprentices)  
Ian Billington 07880 089048
Naima Khanom 07768 035787
Vicki Wannell 07393 789238
Ryan McCarley     07917 352153
Ceri Low 07800 614030
Tamsyn Oates 07867 135815
Anne Pitman 01792 284169
Safeguarding Officer (for apprentices only)     
Adele Bubear     07798 822867

You can find more useful numbers here.

You can contact a Safeguarding Officer during normal working hours.

Monday to Thursday: 8.30am-5pm and Friday: 8.30am-4.30pm

Safeguarding online: advice for parents/guardians

Given the current circumstances, the likelihood of young people spending a considerable amount of time researching, gaming or communicating online will increase.

The priority for us all is to keep them safe online, prevent harm and safeguard at all times.

Please consider the following when you or your child is online.

Young people should:

  • Know who they are talking to
  • Check if they can access material, play games
  • Protect their online reputation
  • Only open messages from sources they trust
  • Do not give out personal information
  • Do not share images, video of inappropriate material
  • Speak to someone if they feel uncomfortable
  • Understand not everything online is true
  • Block and report people who are trolling
  • Do not give into pressure
  • Think before they post

Parents/guardians should:

  • Monitor who their child is communicating with online
  • Monitor the content and material accessed or downloaded
  • Check content is appropriate
  • Set boundaries and parental controls
  • Discuss their online activity
  • Manage/check privacy settings
  • Know where to find help

You can report any concerns here

Other useful resources

Keeping you well

How can I access staff support?

All College staff have access to our employee assistance programme Health Assured who offer online counselling and a range of webinars on health and wellbeing topics. You can contact them on 0800 030 5182.

We also have a dedicated Moodle page with top tips, advice and videos on how to stay mentally and physically resilient through these times. Just use your normal IT log in to access the page and select the enrol me button.

How can I access student support?

We will be offering wellbeing support remotely including activity of the day and health tip of the day.

Both can be accessed via the Moodle home page.

Student health support 01792 284112

If the College closes, our Student Support Officers can be contacted during the working day by phone or email.

Student Support Officer    Mobile
Vicki Wannel 07393 789288
Mo Qasim 07917 136101
Naima Khanom 07768 035787
Tamsyn Oates 07867 135815
Ryan McCarley 07917 352153
Joanne Harris 07946 373455
Ian Billington 07880 089048
Funding Team    Mobile
Hillary Arthur 07500 559123
Bill Jones 07500 559246

Tips for mental health

Keeping a positive state of mind can be hard when in isolation.

We have a dedicated Moodle page with top tips, advice and videos on how to stay mentally resilient through these times. 

Just use your normal IT log in to access the page and select the enrol me button.

Tips for physical health

As well as your mental health, it is really important to maintain good physical health.

We have a number of videos on Moodle that you can follow to maintain your physical fitness.

Just use your normal IT log in to access the page and select the enrol me button.

Information for students

A message to students from Principal Mark Jones

I’m sure you will have heard that the examinations you had planned to take this summer have unfortunately now been cancelled.

We appreciate how disappointed and upset you must be feeling given that you won’t get the opportunity to showcase all the hard work you have undertaken over the past couple of years.

We are currently awaiting further details on how your work and performance will be assessed, although we believe this will be based on your assessment being marked by your lecturers.

As soon as we have clarity on this we will let you know. But in the meantime I would like to give you some advice that will help you to achieve the best grades possible and allow you to take your next step, which may include a higher level course at a top university, an apprenticeship, a job or progress further within the College.

The advice is please don’t forget your studies.

Assessments and grades will certainly be based on work undertaken to date and therefore there could be opportunities to both tidy up and possibly even improve this work.

At the same time assessments etc. could be based on future work provided by lecturers through a mix of live and pre-recorded sessions or set work. Therefore, it is important you keep in contact with your lecturers and tutors, in accordance with your set timetable, and by the method your tutors have set out.

Already some universities and employers are indicating that future interviews will enquire how students used their time effectively to study and learn during the Covid-19 outbreak.  

We firmly believe that if you successfully complete all of your course, then this will put you ahead of other students who may not follow this advice, both in terms of securing the best offers from universities and employers.

The next few months may be very different for all of us, but that doesn’t mean we’re not still thinking of your future. As our students, we are committed to giving you the greatest number of opportunities possible.

So please keep up the hard work, and with the continued support of your lecturers and the College, I have no doubt whatsoever that you can still achieve everything you want to.

Stay safe

Mark Jones
Principal

Staying in touch

As our campuses are closed to both students and staff, we are now working remotely with our whole College community to deliver business as usual, so please try and stay in touch with us. 

We are responding to emails and other messages as quickly as possible, but unfortunately are unable to answer some of our landline numbers. Staff with College mobile phones will continue to use them.

We will aim to support you as much as possible while working remotely during normal College working hours.  

If you have a general query, please email us info@gcs.ac.uk and we will get back you as soon as we are able to.

What about my work placement?

If you have been asked not to attend your compulsory work placement, make sure your tutor/lecturer is aware. The College will document this and look to mitigate i.e. find alternatives or offer additional time.

What if I’m an international student?

If you are an international student and are returning home, then you must inform the international office before you go (international@gcs.ac.uk).

You should however keep up with your studies as best as you can via the online material and platforms and keep in contact with the College.  

How does this affect higher education students?

The advice is the same as for other students at the College.

If you are based at Gower College Swansea while studying your course, then please follow our guidelines.

We are working closely with our partner universities and any changes to current arrangements will be communicated as and when required.

The change in delivery method will not impact on your student loan which will pay as normal in April.

Could I be entitled to benefits?

Students' entitlement to benefits needs to be divided into what level of education and which students are entitled to benefits. This has not been changed by the current situation and coronavirus.
More information is available on the Swansea Council website.

I'm about to start a part time course, what happens?

Due to the current situation, the College will not be delivering or starting any part time courses from Monday 23 March.

If you are enrolled on a course but yet to start, then we intend to reschedule these courses in the future. If the rescheduled start date for your part time course is not suitable for you, you can apply for a refund by sending this form to references@gowercollegeswansea.ac.uk once the situation is clearer.

We will process as soon as we are able to. Please bear with us during this process. 

If you are currently enrolled on a course and have started, we are delivering remotely wherever possible.

We will contact you with a new start date when the situation is clearer.

If the college closes, will I still receive my EMA?

Yes, we will still continue to process EMA payments.

I need to access the counselling service, what should I do?

If the College closes, Exchange counselling will be offering telephone support. You can be referred by a Student Support Officer.

You can also access online counselling or text messaging support by clicking on the white envelope at the bottom of this webpage.

How do I access student support?

Student support officers and safeguarding officers availability over Easter break.

We will be offering wellbeing support remotely including activity of the day and health tip of the day.

Both can be accessed via the Moodle home page.

Student health support 01792 284112

If the College closes, our Student Support Officers can be contacted during the working day by phone or email.

Student Support Officer    Mobile
Vicki Wannel 07393 789288
Mo Qasim 07917 136101
Naima Khanom 07768 035787
Tamsyn Oates 07867 135815
Ryan McCarley 07917 352153
Joanne Harris 07946 373455
Ian Billington 07880 089048
Funding Team    Mobile
Hillary Arthur 07500 559123
Bill Jones 07500 559246

Information about course progression 

I am a current student and want to progress onto the next level of my course, what happens?

You do not need to apply for the next level of your course. You will automatically be invited to come in for an enrolment interview later this year to progress. We will communicate with you via email and text. 

During this period of remote learning, it is important you maintain contact with your lecturers and submit required coursework.

As part of the enrolment interview we will discuss your commitment during this time away from College and then decide the appropriate course to enrol you on.

I am a current student and want to progress onto a different course within College, what happens?

You can apply for a different course by completing an application here

Our Admissions team will be in touch via email to offer you a conditional place on the course and let you know when you need to come in for an enrolment interview in August.

During this period of remote learning, it is important you maintain contact with your lecturers and submit required coursework.

As part of the enrolment interview we will discuss your commitment during this time away from College and then decide the appropriate course to enrol you on.

How to keep up with your studies remotely – some helpful tips

It’s really important that you continue with your studies as best you can while working from home. Don’t forget to check your eILP regularly for updates. College staff are available via email to support you so please stay in touch.

If you are an A Level student
Your lecturers will have already made arrangements to support you with remote learning so please engage with the activities that have been put in place for you.

AS students - your lecturers will complete detailed progress reports which will be used for a discussion around continuing with your subjects at A2 Level.

If you are a vocational student at Level 3
Your lecturers will have already made arrangements to support you with remote learning so please engage with the activities that have been put in place for you.

It’s important that you continue to complete your assessed work as your lecturers will be completing detailed progress reports.

If you are a vocational student at Levels 1 or 2
Even though face-to-face teaching and learning has been suspended for the moment, you will need to carry on completing the tasks and activities that have been set for you.

Please stay in touch with your tutors so that you can successfully complete your course this year and progress to your next step at College.

Information about exams

Will teaching, examination and assessments be impacted?

Following the announcement on Wednesday 18 March, all AS/A Level and GCSE examinations due to run this summer are cancelled.

We will continue to deliver lessons remotely wherever possible. You should continue to submit any assessments or pieces of work that are required by your tutors.

The awarding bodies are working with the regulators to ensure that robust procedures are put in place to enable students to receive a fair grade to recognise their work. 

As soon as the awarding bodies have finalised these arrangements we will update all students. It may take a little time to put these procedures in place.

 

Will exams be postponed?

If you have an exam scheduled before Monday 20 April 2020, please see the I'm sitting and exam soon, what should I do question above.

For all other vocational examinations due to run after Monday 20 April 2020, we will continue to work closely with our awarding bodies and work within the advice given. 

Students should continue to study and submit any assessments or pieces of work required by their tutors.

Guidance for AS/A Level and GCSE

AS/A Level and GCSEs are regulated in the UK by different bodies. Here in Wales, all WJEC qualifications are regulated by Qualifications Wales.

As a College we use some other exam boards such as AQA, Eduquas, OCR and Pearson Edexcel to deliver those not offered by WJEC. These are regulated by Ofqual, under the Department for Education in England.

In Wales, where you follow a WJEC subject, your AS grade counts towards your A Level grade, you sit your AS exams in the summer and receive a grade. This grade and the marks awarded for your modules, combined with the A Level modules you sit, gives you your A Level grade at the end of your second year.

What are Qualification Wales saying?

Read their letter to students here

WJEC will issue a grade for A Level, AS Level and GCSE.

Coursework needs to be submitted as normal.

Grades will be awarded using a range of evidence and a combination of factors, including completed work to date, AS grade and standardised teaching assessments based on what your lecturer would expect you to achieve.

If you are an AS student you will be awarded a grade in summer 2020, this grade will not go forward into your A Level grade. Instead your A Level grade will be based on the A Level units that you sit in summer 2021.

You can sit your AS units in summer 2021 if you want to, if you choose to sit your AS Units, the grade you will ultimately achieve for your A level will be based on the higher of the both options. This will be discussed with you during autumn term.

If you are sitting a linear A Level, it will awarded by one the other awarding bodies such as AQA, Pearson Edexcel, Eduquas or OCR. These A Levels are regulated by Ofqual. In England the AS is a stand-alone qualification, and doesn’t go towards the A Level grade. Students sitting through these boards would sit all of their A Level papers at the end of their second year.

What are Ofqual saying?

Read their letter to students here

A grade will be issued for A Level, AS Level and GCSE.     

Possibility of sitting external exams early in the next academic year or summer 2021.

Grades will be awarded using a range of evidence and data including performance on mock exams and non-exam assessment. The exam boards will then combine this with other relevant data including prior attainment, and use this to produce a calculated grade for each student.

Guidance for Vocational courses

All regulators are working with the vocational awarding bodies to produce a grading mechanism that is fair, robust and will truly reflect the achievement of each student.

What are Qualifications Wales saying?

We are still considering the fairest way to issue grades for those studying qualifications other than GCSEs and A Levels

Most vocational qualifications are offered across the UK, so we are working with fellow regulators, exam boards and governments to ensure consistency. We will share more detail on those plans as soon as we can.  

Please bear with us while we await these details.

What are Ofqual saying?

There is a wide range of different vocational and technical qualifications as well as other academic qualifications which students were expecting to sit exams for in the summer.

These are offered by a large number of awarding organisations and have differing assessment approaches. In many cases students will already have completed modules or non-exam assessment which could provide evidence to award a grade.

We are encouraging these organisations to show the maximum possible flexibility to ensure students are not disadvantaged.

For some courses, a form of calculated grade or other form of estimation could be based on assessments that have already taken place. For others, it may be better to adapt the assessment.

For courses where the achievement provides a licence to practice in the workplace/industry, this might need to be delayed.

Guidance for Access and Agored

What are QAA saying?

Read their letter to students here

QAA will be working closely with Access Validating Agencies (AVAs) to ensure that quality, standards and student outcomes can be maintained.

If an AVA and their provider conclude that attempts cannot reasonably be made to assess students and maintain academic standards in the present circumstances, the AVA will put in place effective arrangements and implement them as soon as the current situation is resolved.

Please bear with us while we await these details.

I need to collect a certificate, what should I do?

As the College is closed until further notice, you won't be able to collect your certificate for the time being. Please be assured that all certificates will be stored securely during the closure. As soon as the College reopens you will be able to collect your certificate in the usual way. 

If, in the next three weeks, you urgently need evidence of your qualification you can request an electronic letter to be sent from the College directly to the organisation requesting it, please email
references@gowercollegeswansea.ac.uk

What will happen to my UCAS application?

If you have applied for a university course via UCAS it is really important to keep up to date with their latest info and guidance.

This will include any information on changes to important deadlines given the current situation - ucas.com/coronavirus

Information for applicants

I’ve applied for a College course, what happens?

Please don’t worry, we are continuing to deal with all College applications and will be in touch to discuss your place shortly.

I have been given an appointment to come in and enrol in June/July, what should I do?

We are planning to reschedule all enrolments to August at the moment.

We will contact you with your new appointment time in due course.

I’ve applied for College and still haven’t had my offer by email, should I be worried?

Please don’t worry, we have lots of College offers to get through and this will take us quite some time.

You will hear from us in the coming weeks.

I’ve received my College offer. How do I accept my place?

You will receive a follow up email within two weeks of your offer and it will give instructions on how to accept your place. 

What about my interview?

As we are unable to conduct face to face interviews, we are making College offers based on predicted/actual grades. 

We will be in touch with you via email in the coming weeks.

I want to apply for a full time course, what should I do?

You can continue to apply for a full time course with us. 

Please complete the full time application form and we will be in touch.

I want to apply for an apprenticeship, what should I do?

You can continue to apply for an apprenticeship with us. 

Interviews, assessment and training will take place remotely online and by phone.

Please complete the apprenticeship application form and we will contact you to discuss further.

I want to apply for a higher education course, what should I do?

Please continue to apply for a full time course via UCAS

For a part time course, you can apply here

If an interview or audition is required for the course, you will be contacted via email to arrange an alternative. This could be via Skype or telephone.

If you have a higher education course enquiry please contact us 

Information for apprentice employers

Are apprenticeships suspended or postponed for now?

We continue to work with apprentices (including furloughed apprentices) via remote learning. Apprentices can interact with College staff using virtual classrooms and video calls. We can also support through phone and email.

Wherever possible, we will continue with remote/digital assessment, allowing apprentices to complete aspects of their course.

Awarding bodies are currently reviewing if assessment can be adapted in the current circumstances and we await further details on this.

For courses where competence and safety testing cannot be done remotely, e.g. electrical and gas, the delivery time lost due to Coronavirus can be added onto the end of the apprenticeship.

How will progress reviews be undertaken whilst assessors cannot visit the workplace?

Wherever possible, progress reviews will be conducted by video/phone and review forms will be completed through Smart Assessor.

Learners and employers can sign reviews digitally by clicking a link sent by email and logging into Smart Assessor.

If you have not used this method before, your assessor will be in touch. Where this is not possible, we will agree other methods with you.

I am not confident using Smart Assessor or have forgotten my login details

In the first instance, please contact your assessor who can arrange to provide you with further support. They can also reset your Smart Assessor password.

We realise Smart Assessor and remote learning is new to many. We are currently finalising YouTube videos for our employers and apprentices demonstrating how to use it.

I am concerned that my apprentice is struggling at the moment

Whilst College campuses are closed, please contact your assessor by mobile phone/email in the first instance.

We have increased our wellbeing resources for learners which are accessible via the College’s Moodle platform and Smart Assessor.

If you are concerned about the wellbeing of your apprentice, please contact our Safeguarding Officer, Adele Bubear on 07798 822867.

We can also provide you with additional support through our learning coaches, other safeguarding officers and refer learners to specialist support as needed.

What happens with the Employer Incentive Scheme during this time?

If we have confirmed that you are a Small Medium Enterprise (SME) employer that is eligible for Welsh Government’s Employer Incentive Scheme, this support still remains in place.

Payments will continue as normal after eight and 12 months from the apprentice’s start date, unless the apprentice has been furloughed prior to the eight month period having elapsed.

In this case, the Employer Incentive Payment will be passed to the employer once the apprentice has returned to employment after furlough.

Useful resources

ACAS Coronavirus advisory webinar for employers.

Information for parents / guardians

A message to parents/guardians from Principal Mark Jones

I am writing on behalf of all of the staff at Gower College Swansea to firstly explain how disappointed we are to close our campuses, albeit for reasons we of course understand, support and empathise with.

The education of your children, our students, is extremely important to us as a College community as well as ensuring their health, safety and wellbeing.

Today, I have written to all students outlining our expectations in terms of what we need them to do over the coming weeks to achieve the very best outcomes.

And, in so doing, then having the best opportunities to move onto their next step, which may include a higher level course at a top university, an apprenticeship, a job or to progress further within the College.

Last week you will have read that all A Level and GCSE summer examinations have been cancelled. Whilst there will inevitably be a move toward assessments being marked by our lecturers, and/or predicted grades, the rules and regulations that will support this have yet to be released, not just for A Levels and GCSEs, but for all examination boards including those that support vocational courses and apprenticeships.

Therefore, at this current time we are unclear as to how this will work in practice. But, please be assured that we will continue to work with and support all of the examination boards in the implementation of their approach.

As soon as we receive further clarification we will of course share it with you, but at this time I regret that we are just unable to answer some of the specific questions that we are being asked.

Kind regards

Mark Jones
Principal

I am a parent/guardian and am concerned about my child’s learning

If the College should close, students are being prepared for remote learning and have been given details how they can communicate with their lecturers as per course/subject timetable.

What about their resources?

Students are being provided with all the necessary resources and information they need to continue their studies at home and how to access any help they might need.

Our lecturing staff are also working closely with students to clarify where they are in relation to their work schemes.

What if my child is self-isolating?

If your child is already self-isolating and is unsure of how to communicate with their lecturers, please contact their tutor via email.

Travel plans

General travel advice

Please check the UK Government’s travel advice pages for the latest travel information and the impact of coronavirus on travel.

Country-specific travel information

Please check the UK Government’s country specific travel advice pages for all countries you are planning to visit.

Returning travellers

Please check the UK Government’s advice pages for the latest information for returning travellers and whether you are required to self-isolate.

Are planned overseas trips and visits going ahead?

Due to the current uncertainty and the growth in numbers testing positive for the virus in a relatively short period of time, we believe that the most appropriate action for the College to take is for all overseas trips to be cancelled with immediate effect and for the foreseeable future.

All students will be notified and should speak to the trip’s organiser about how to claim a refund.

Are planned UK trips and visits going ahead?

All UK trips will be cancelled with immediate effect and for the foreseeable future.