Information about Coronavirus (COVID-19)

 

Following last week’s announcement by the Minister for Education that some students will be allowed to return to College from Monday 15 June, I would like to update you on how this announcement will impact on students studying at Gower College Swansea.

Please take some time to read through the information about a phased reopening questions below, which will be important for you to know and understand at this stage.

Mark Jones
Principal 

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This dedicated webpage features FAQs to help support our staff, students, parents and stakeholders 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 about a phased reopeningKeeping you safe and well Information for students Information about course progression Information about exams Information for applicants Information for apprentice employers Information for parents/guardians Information and guidance about Coronavirus Travel plans

Information about a phased reopening

An updated message from Mark Jones, Principal (1 July)

It is now three weeks since I last updated students, parents and guardians about how the College is preparing – initially for our return from lockdown and then for September – and a lot has happened during that time.

Firstly I‘m delighted to report that the College has now reopened albeit initially for around just 300 vocational students. This is to allow them to undertake any outstanding vocational assessments and, in doing so, to complete their course and support their progression.

Within the next couple of weeks we will also open our Kingsway Centre which offers employability support, another priority area for the College. This team works with employers and other key partners and will continue to help to address the anticipated increase in unemployment numbers.

Throughout July and August we will continue to support more of our vulnerable students by inviting them in to College to catch up and support their progression. We will also invite all staff into College, fully adhering to the social distancing guidelines, to get them used to the revised look and feel of the College – complete with new layouts and clear signage – and to allow them to complete their preparations for our September intake.

And thanks to the strong partnerships that have been developed over many years, we have the full support of all of our recognised trade unions which means that you won’t see the challenges in colleges that other parts of the education sector are experiencing.

For me this is where studying at Gower College Swansea has a number of real advantages. Firstly we already have a model in place for September which is based around a combination of taught and practical sessions with pastoral and additional support. Some of this will be delivered on campus and some online, all of which will be flexed based on the latest government guidance.

In recent months and unlike many of our partner schools, we have been able to put this new model into practice – learning and adapting in readiness for September – an approach which both students and parents have commented positively about and which has helped us to make further improvements.

Over the summer all teaching and support staff will undertake a two week programme on digital learning and support. This means we will be able to hit the ground running in September - and this will complement the £1m plus in capital investment that we will once again make this summer.

Also, due to the excellent partnerships that have always existed across all further education colleges, we will also be able to draw on a range of excellent online resources and in some cases teaching - delivered by partners both in Wales and England, to give our students access to the very best teaching and support.

It may not be business as usual, but in many ways these current challenges that we are facing are bringing plenty of extra opportunities too.

We look forward to welcoming you in September.

Mark Jones
Principal

Preparations for Monday 6 July

Reminder: The College's Tycoch Campus (including Broadway) and Jubilee Court will be partially open from Monday 6 July for identified staff and students only. Please only come in if you have been contacted by your tutor directly. Thank you.

Will all students be able to return to College?

There is no need for those students who have completed sufficient assessments (as set out by their particular examination board and which allow for their performance to be assessed and graded) to return to College this term. This category includes e.g. all A Level and Access students.

There are other examination boards in some vocational areas including engineering, plumbing, motor vehicle, engineering, childcare, accountancy and hair and beauty which require outstanding assessments to be completed. However, this does not necessarily apply to all students in those areas.

When will I know if I need to return to College to complete any assessments?

Currently the College is undertaking detailed planning and complex assessments to ensure that those curriculum areas, where there are outstanding assessments that need to be completed, are safe for students and staff to return to.

We estimate that we will need a further few weeks to complete this work which may include the receipt of additional personal protective equipment (PPE) and possibly some estates work e.g. partitioning and screening etc. We will be in touch with individual students once this has been completed.

The following areas may be contacted by their tutors if needed to complete assessments.

  • Electrical (Level 2 and 3)
  • Welding (part time)
  • Construction apprentices and Plumbing (Level 2 and 3)
  • Hair, Beauty and Holistics (full and part time)
  • Hospitality
  • Childcare (Level 2)
  • Health and Social Care (Level 2)
  • Personal Trainers
  • Accountancy (AAT)

If necessary, these assessments may continue after the summer break, however our aim is to complete all of this work before the start of the new academic year in September.

All apprentices will continue their programme with guidance from their tutor / assessor.

In the meantime, we would ask students not to attend any of the campuses until they hear from their tutor.

How will I get to and from the College?

All outstanding assessments are to be carried out at either Jubilee Court or the Tycoch Campus, where the vast majority of identified students with outstanding assessments have studied.

The safest way to travel to College is to use your own transport and students and their parents/guardians are encouraged to do this and are welcome to park at the campus.

Students with bus passes can continue to use the bus passes on local bus transport until Friday 26 June. From Monday 29 June, if you intend to travel by bus, you will need to buy a ticket to travel which is available on the First Bus app.

If you think you may have issues with transport on your allotted day for your assessment/exam, please contact the faculty office via email info@gcs.ac.uk

We have been advised by First Cymru that bus timetables have reduced due to the current situation, so please check their website timetable before departing.

In addition, currently due to social distancing rules, First Cymru are only carrying 25% of normal capacity on all of its vehicles, therefore there is a risk that passengers will not be able to board the bus if it is full.

Passengers are able to look on the First Bus app where there is a facility which shows the location of the bus on a map and also the number of available seats at any given time.

We are anticipating further guidance on bus transport from Welsh Government in the next week or so and will update this question when we have further details.

How will you ensure I will be safe when I return to College?

As I outlined above, the College will look and feel very different after the easing of lockdown. When students arrive they will be given a briefing by College staff in terms of the safety guidelines that we need them to comply with.

Students will be brought back in small groups – and therefore when we contact you, we will give you a date(s) and time(s) when we need you to attend. Our expectation is that we will not have more than 70 students on the campus at any one time.

Any student who is invited to attend the campus to complete an assessment will only be required to be on the campus for the duration of the assessment. 

Students will not be permitted to stay on campus to wait, socialise or study independently – and most support areas within the College including any onsite catering will remain closed for now.

Who do I contact if I have additional questions?

Please either email info@gcs.ac.uk or contact our main reception line on 01792 284000 and we will direct your question as best we can.

What will Gower College Swansea look like in September?

The health, safety and wellbeing of all of our students is, and always will be, our number one priority.

With social distancing requirements likely to remain in place for the foreseeable future, we are adapting how we run all of our programmes, advancing with the blended approach to teaching and learning that we have been using successfully in recent months.

Our current plans are based on the very latest guidance from Welsh Government and we will adapt and flex these plans as the guidance continues to evolve.

As we begin the new College year in September, we will ensure that all of our learners will continue to receive high quality teaching. We will provide a blend of face to face classes and online delivery and support.

The number of days that students will be asked to attend the College will vary and will be dependent on a range of factors including the numbers of students on the course, the course content and the use of workshops and other vocational settings, resources and specialist equipment.

All courses will be delivered through a blended approach which will include:

  • Regular taught sessions. We will continue with timetabled, teacher-led classes to be delivered through a combination of campus-based and online sessions, with the online delivery allowing us to include a series of guest lectures and master classes presented by external speakers from higher education and industry.
  • Practical sessions. We will make full use of the teaching day and week to get the maximum use out of our facilities. Face to face sessions will be delivered in small groups, in workshops, salons, laboratories and kitchens on campus. We will also use online resources to complement and extend these practical sessions.
  • Pastoral support. We will continue to provide support and guidance. Through one to one and group tutorials, we will provide personal, financial and study support and offer advice on career progression.
  • Additional support. We will continue to offer enhanced support through our programmes such as HE+ and our preparation for UK and WorldSkills competitions as well as meeting the requirements of the Additional Learning Needs (ALN) Bill.

This approach will ensure that all students can still interact with peers, lecturers and support staff.

In September we intend to do even more as a response to the challenges resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic.

By recognising the increased competition for students looking to secure places in the UK’s top universities or gain employment with major companies, the College is planning to extend all of its programmes to include additional sessions in digital skills and employability.

This is part of the Gower College Swansea Guarantee which ensures that our students have the very best opportunities to progress to further learning or employment.

At the start of the new College year, our students will undertake an enhanced induction programme. This will include the training on digital equipment to ensure that all of our students can access and use all of the online teaching and support materials both at College and at home. Students will become familiar with our digital platforms and how to make safe and effective use of online learning.

Keeping you safe and 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.

On Moodle, you can also access some useful information from external agencies including Info Nation, Cruse, Platform and SCVS.

Moodle home page

For student health support call, 01792 284112 or email

Angela Clarke - 07789 380084
Sam Hood - 07789 397237
Gill Rees - 07789 396143

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

Access to the wellbeing portal

Maintaining a positive state of mind and good physical health can be hard when in isolation.

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

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

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

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.

If you need help due to a bereavement, our Student Support Officers can refer you to the Exchange counselling service. Our Student Health Advisors are also available to offer support.

Cruise can help with:

  • Getting help following the death of someone close
  • Supporting someone who is grieving
  • Coping with grieving in isolation

https://www.cruse.org.uk/

I need to contact a Safeguarding Officer

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

If you - or someone you know - is experiencing domestic abuse, there is lots of information on the Welsh Women's Aid website about how you can access support.

Other useful websites are Shelter Cymru, The Dyn Project and the Men's Advice Line.

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

Information for students

An updated message from Mark Jones, Principal (9 June)

Following last week’s announcement by the Minister for Education that some students will be allowed to return to College from Monday 15 June, I would like to update you on how this announcement will impact on students studying at Gower College Swansea.

Firstly, I would once again confirm that our number one priority at Gower College Swansea remains the health and safety of our students and staff, and the Minister’s announcement will not change this priority in any way at all.

However, the announcement does provide an opportunity for some students – specifically those who have outstanding vocational assessments to complete – to return to College to undertake this work.

But in returning to College, students need to appreciate that we will be operating very differently than before, with smaller class sizes and social distancing measures in place.

Please take some time to read through the above section Information about a phased reopening which will be important for you to know and understand at this stage.

Finally, thank you for your patience whilst we put the necessary arrangements in place to allow our students to complete any outstanding assessments whilst ensuring safety and wellbeing at all times.

Mark Jones
Principal

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.  

What if I'm a higher education student?

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.

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

Yes, we will still continue to process EMA payments.

If you need help filling in your EMA form, please refer to our guidance notes.

To speak to a member of the Student Funding Team, please contact 07500 559123 / 07500 559246 or email studentfunding@gcs.ac.uk.

I want to apply for FCF funding, what should I do?

The College’s Financial Contingency Fund (FCF) opens on Wednesday 3 June 2020.

Please complete the application form and follow the instructions to submit.

The device you are using will need Acrobat Reader installed to allow you to complete the form.

To download Acrobat Reader onto a mobile device follow this link

Choose Apple Store if you are using an apple device or choose Google Play if you are using an android device.

To download Acrobat Reader onto a PC or MAC follow this link and go through the instructions.

If you need help filling in your FCF form, please refer to our guidance notes.

To speak to a member of the Student Funding Team, please contact 07500 559123 / 07500 559246 or email studentfunding@gcs.ac.uk.

Will the College provide refunds for bus passes?

Yes, the College will provide a partial refund for the unused element of bus passes.

However, the College is not currently open to staff and we are looking into the best way to provide these refunds to students.

We will update you on the process of providing refunds when we are able to, please bear with us. Many thanks for your patience.

Applying to higher education institutions

This update includes information about results day, finance, clearing, extra, adjustment and university admissions.

Clearing
Clearing opens on Monday 6 July (final UCAS applications are to be submitted by 30 June). If you have a conditional or unconditional offer, you will have the opportunity to change your choice once you have received your grades.

The self-release into clearing option is in place again this year, along with the adjustment option.  This will be supported by a new service from UCAS called Clearing Plus, which will match applicants not holding offers to relevant courses with vacancies which they may be interested in.

You may have heard that there will be controls on admissions to higher education this year. However, universities will be able to recruit an extra 5% of full time domestic students, above their forecast numbers, in the next academic year. In England, the Government has the discretion to allocate 5,000 additional places for nursing, midwifery, or allied health courses.

Acceptance of offer
If you have accepted an offer, meet the conditions and decide to take the place, nothing has changed.

A Level and vocational results day will remain unchanged: Thursday 13 August.

The deadline for firm and insurance decisions has been extended to Thursday 18 June for all students.

Course fees
Course fees for universities in England remain unchanged for next year. There is yet to be an announcement for Welsh universities.

With regards to student finance, if you have already completed the form but now feel your household income has reduced, it may be worth contacting Student Finance Wales to inform them as you may now be eligible for additional support.

Student Finance Wales have an excellent FAQ page on their website.

UCAS updates
UCAS hold regular live Q&A sessions on Facebook and updates on Twitter.

UCAS extra, for students currently holding no offers, will remain open until Sunday 5 July.

UCAS adjustment, for students who have received results better than they anticipated and therefore wish to apply for a course requiring higher grades, opens on Thursday 13 August.

Studding HE at Gower College Swansea
We offer a range of higher education courses, awarded by leading Universities and delivered in a bespoke University Centre. We have an extremely supportive and interactive approach, with small class sizes. This option could be an ideal opportunity for those students whose learning during this academic year may have been affected.

Application is via UCAS

Further information and advice can be found here

The College also offers bursaries of up to £1,000 per year for full time students.

Summary

The situation is changing regularly, so please keep checking this webpage for further updates.

Please also check your emails and Advisor Track regularly, and any information the College receives will be passed onto your personal tutors.

You can also keep up to date with the latest UCAS guidance here: ucas.com/coronavirus

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. 

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.

If you are unsure about your next step, our employability team, Better Jobs, Better Futures can also help you, please contact info@betterjobsbetterfutures.wales

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.

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.

If you are unsure about your next step, our employability team, Better Jobs, Better Futures can also help you, please contact info@betterjobsbetterfutures.wales

Information about exams

Will exams be postponed?

Following the announcement on Wednesday 18 March, all AS/A Level and GCSE examinations were cancelled.

There will be certain qualifications where some form of assessment/examination will need to take place, if this relates to your course, you will be contacted by your tutor. 

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.

AS/A Level and Welsh Baccalaureate results will be issued on Thursday 13 August 2020.

GCSE Results will be issued on Thursday 20 August 2020.

What are Qualifications Wales saying?

Read their letter to students here

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

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 coursework (AS/A Level)

Following recent guidance, Non Examined Assessments (NEA) are not being moderated externally this summer. 

Your grade will be based on a range of evidence, progress to date and what we would expect you to achieve if your coursework had been complete. 

We would like you to have the opportunity to complete your portfolio work/coursework, so please continue to work to the deadlines set by your lecturers. 

It is important you do not worry if you are having difficulty completing or submitting your work as your lecturers have been assessing your progress since you started the course.

You will not be disadvantaged by this, we would like to give you the opportunity to showcase your completed work if this is possible for you.

How the grading process will work for A/AS Level

In line with the guidance issued by our awarding body regulators, our teaching teams have been asked to grade and rank each student.

To do this, they will be using their professional judgement and taking into account each student’s progress and recorded achievement throughout the year.

This process will then go through a series of approvals and administrative checks before being agreed and signed off by our Principal (Head of Centre). 

It is important that the professional judgements of our teaching teams are as objective and candid as possible to ensure this standardisation. Once submitted, the awarding bodies themselves will also be following a standardisation process.

It is also important that our teaching teams and our Head of Centre are free to make objective judgements and not be subject to any external influence, for example from students or their parents and carers. 

We are also unable to share the centre assessed grade and/or rank position with you.  These must remain confidential as detailed in the letters to students from the regulators.

We appreciate this is an uncertain time for all, but please be assured that this process is fair, rigorous and objective. 

Guidance for vocational courses

All regulators have worked with the vocational awarding bodies to produce a grading mechanism that is fair, robust and will truly reflect the achievement of each student that was due to complete their course this summer. 

We offer our vocational courses through a large number of awarding organisations, who have different assessment approaches. In many cases you will have already completed units and assessments which could provide evidence for your overall grade.

For some courses a calculated grade and rank order has been requested for units not yet completed, for others we have been asked to adapt the assessment. Where your qualification required an adaption, your tutor will have contacted you.

However, there are some qualifications that provide a licence to practice where a calculated or adapted assessment is not possible for all units. If you are required to take an examination, you will be contacted by your tutor and provided with the Covid-19 arrangements that we have put in place.

FAQs from the awarding bodies
Pearson BTEC courses

Please visit our useful links section below for details about the awarding bodies.

Guidance for Access and Agored

What are QAA saying?

Students due to complete an Access to HE course this summer will receive a calculated grade for all remaining assessments due for submission after 20 March 2020. 

As with other calculated grades, we can’t share these with you at the moment. Access to HE results will be issued on Thursday 13 August 2020.

QAA have produced a document, which you can read here

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.

Please bear with us while we await these details.

Guidance for Essential Skills Wales and Functional Skills

As announced on Monday 20 April, Essential Skills Wales students due to complete their qualification before the end of July will receive a calculated result.

The result will be based upon the outcome that their tutor/assessor believed they would receive had they taken the tests. These judgements will be subject to strict oversight by the awarding bodies. 

Qualifications Wales has worked closely with Agored Cymru, City & Guilds, Pearson and WJEC to ensure a common approach across awarding bodies.  

In England, Ofqual announced that students due to take assessments for Functional Skills qualifications before the end of the summer will also receive a calculated result.

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

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

Please don’t worry, you should hear from us within two weeks of submitting your application.

To check the status of your application, please email admissions@gcs.ac.uk

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.

What if I don’t get the results I need for my chosen course?

Don’t worry! Our subject/course teams will be on hand after you get your results to advise you if you need to look at other options.

Please be reassured that our experienced and expert staff are best placed to advise you on what you study, and at what level, based on your interests, skills and your aspirations.

You have a place at Gower College Swansea, and our aim is for you to achieve to your full potential while you are with us.

Can I change my mind after I start my course if I don’t like it?

Yes. All of our learners have a personal tutor, who is your first point of contact if you have any issues in College, for example, if you are not enjoying your course.

Many students for example will change their choice of A Level subjects in the first few weeks and some will change from A Level subjects to a vocational course.

You will have the support to make the right choices for you.

Do I need to accept my place at College?

It is important that you accept your place at the College that would have been emailed to you within two weeks of your offer.

If you have not accepted your place yet, please check your emails and click on the link to accept your email.

If you cannot find the email, please contact admissions@gcs.ac.uk

What is happening about my enrolment appointment?

We are looking at ways of doing enrolment online.

We will update you on how and when you can enrol by email, so please keep checking your inbox!

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 a part time course, what should I do?

Unfortunately, due to the current circumstances, we are unable to confirm dates and times for our part time courses for 2020/21 at this moment.

We would encourage you to still have a browse through our part time section of our website where you will find a flavour of what we offer. We are just unable to give detail of any start dates and times at this stage.

We are working hard to finalise the curriculum for 2020/21, ensuring that the health and safety of our students remains paramount. As soon as we are able to advertise this new curriculum with you, we will do.

We also have ongoing employability and career support available through our Better Jobs, Better Futures team.

We hope you understand and we are sorry for any inconvenience. As soon as we are in a position to share further updates, we will do.

What if I was already enrolled on a part time course?

If you were already 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 course is not suitable for you, you can apply for a refund by sending this form to references@gcs.ac.uk 

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

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 

New learning platform for full time applicants

We are delighted to launch our very first learning platform targeted at those who have applied to study with us from September 2020.

The platform features learning materials, activities and tools from across a range of curriculum areas including health and care, engineering, science and business. Both A Level and vocational routes are featured.

You can access the platform here

Useful contacts

For full time courses and apprenticeships: admissions@gcs.ac.uk

For part time courses: info@gcs.ac.uk 

For higher education courses: contact us 

For student funding: 07500 55912307500 559246 or email studentfunding@gcs.ac.uk

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.

What financial support is available to me as a business/employer?

The government have established many routes of financial support to assist businesses and employers during this challenging period.

If you’re finding it difficult to keep up with all the latest information, click here to view a useful infographic that illustrates the routes a lot clearer.

The diagram reflects the situation at the time of posting (22/04/2020) – the situation is evolving, so remember to check on government advice as it is updated.

[Source – Urban Foundry]

Useful resources

ACAS Coronavirus advisory webinar for employers.

Information for parents / guardians

An updated message from Mark Jones, Principal (1 July)

It is now three weeks since I last updated students, parents and guardians about how the College is preparing – initially for our return from lockdown and then for September – and a lot has happened during that time.

Firstly I‘m delighted to report that the College has now reopened albeit initially for around just 300 vocational students. This is to allow them to undertake any outstanding vocational assessments and, in doing so, to complete their course and support their progression.

Within the next couple of weeks we will also open our Kingsway Centre which offers employability support, another priority area for the College. This team works with employers and other key partners and will continue to help to address the anticipated increase in unemployment numbers.

Throughout July and August we will continue to support more of our vulnerable students by inviting them in to College to catch up and support their progression. We will also invite all staff into College, fully adhering to the social distancing guidelines, to get them used to the revised look and feel of the College – complete with new layouts and clear signage – and to allow them to complete their preparations for our September intake.

And thanks to the strong partnerships that have been developed over many years, we have the full support of all of our recognised trade unions which means that you won’t see the challenges in colleges that other parts of the education sector are experiencing.

For me this is where studying at Gower College Swansea has a number of real advantages. Firstly we already have a model in place for September which is based around a combination of taught and practical sessions with pastoral and additional support. Some of this will be delivered on campus and some online, all of which will be flexed based on the latest government guidance.

In recent months and unlike many of our partner schools, we have been able to put this new model into practice – learning and adapting in readiness for September – an approach which both students and parents have commented positively about and which has helped us to make further improvements.

Over the summer all teaching and support staff will undertake a two week programme on digital learning and support. This means we will be able to hit the ground running in September - and this will complement the £1m plus in capital investment that we will once again make this summer.

Also, due to the excellent partnerships that have always existed across all further education colleges, we will also be able to draw on a range of excellent online resources and in some cases teaching - delivered by partners both in Wales and England, to give our students access to the very best teaching and support.

It may not be business as usual, but in many ways these current challenges that we are facing are bringing plenty of extra opportunities too.

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.

Information and guidance about Coronavirus

Where can I find the latest guidance?

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

Read the latest update from Welsh Government which sets out their plans and actions to ensure our students stay safe and stay learning.

Please see some useful links below:

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

Post-16 Learning and Skills: here you will find material that is being produced by Welsh Government in relation to Covid-19 (including the Covid-19 Resilience Plan for the Post-16 sector), and to support distance learning.  

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.

You can also use the NHS Direct Wales symptom checker

Welsh language compliance

Whilst our campuses remain closed, the College remains committed to compliance with the Welsh Language Measure (Wales) 2011 and the Welsh Language Standards, in all aspects of its daily activities.

Travel plans

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.