Addressing outdated misconceptions, Gower College Swansea’s principal, Mark Jones, highlights how and why colleges have made it their mission to make tailored support available to every student.
It’s been over two years since the beginning of the pandemic, and we are already starting to see the long-term effects of lockdowns, disrupted learning and isolation on young people. What covid-19 has taught us, and other academic institutions across the country, is that individualised support for learners is needed more than ever before.
Gower College Swansea has always guaranteed individualised support for its learners through a variety of programmes, including one to one advisor support, and progression pathways ranging from apprenticeships and employment to higher education. We’ve invested in added resources to further enhance and expand these services over the last two years to better support students navigating the uncertainties and challenges brought about by the pandemic.
However, despite the fact other colleges across Wales share our drive, there is still the misconception that larger academic institutions don’t offer tailored support. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
For the majority, the start of a student’s college journey is an exciting mix of meeting new people, learning new subjects and experiencing new and more mature academic environments. But we appreciate that change can be equally daunting. This is why we ensure every learner joining us is assigned a support advisor from the very beginning.
One to one student support
We have over 50 staff who have no other commitment and whose sole role is to provide one to one student support. Some of these staff ensure that our students have help and guidance when it comes to caring for their wellbeing, keeping fit, eating well, ensuring their bus or train passes are up to date, and being fully aware of funding options available to them. Other staff are also on hand to help with non-college experiences and personal issues.
Alongside our support package, we also have health advisors who can help with medical issues, as well as a growing number of mental health counsellors to support students.
Bridging the gap between wellbeing and academic support
In the past year, in an additional move to bridge the gap between wellbeing support and academic support, we have introduced pastoral coaches to the roster at the College.
Pastoral coaches support students within the curriculum, ensuring they are keeping on top of their assignments, attending study sessions or preparing for their next step i.e. university, apprenticeships or job applications.
On the academic front, we strive to support and push our students to reach their maximum potential and progress onto whatever pathway they choose for their future. But it’s no surprise that the pandemic has impacted the way students learn and prep for their future, especially when it comes to exams.
We’ve introduced exam support programmes designed for those learners who might never have sat or studied for a formal assessment. Ultimately, exams can have an impact on future paths taken, so we want to ensure our students are prepared for any scenario and any situation to ensure they are on track for future success.
University prep programmes
The College has also expanded its university prep programmes with many universities changing their entry requirements because of the pandemic - from entrance exams to initial interviews.
As well as our dedicated GCS Honours programme, we continue to support students with their applications for top universities across the UK, including Russell Group institutions.
Supporting our students has always been a guarantee of ours at Gower College Swansea. Post-pandemic it will continue to be of focus, taking into account the increasing needs of students as they navigate change and prepare for the next stages of their lives.