Last week I wrote once again to all of our College students thanking them all for their continued engagement with their studies and their ongoing hard work.
I want to reassure you that the College continues to work with the range of examination bodies who validate the different courses we offer, to better understand how our students’ performance is to be assessed in these very different and challenging times.
I think it is fair to say that student engagement has decreased since Easter, particularly for those on final year courses where the examination bodies have said that assessments will be based on students work already completed. Therefore, this possibly isn’t a surprise, although I will return to this issue later on in this update.
If you are unaware, the recent guidance we have received from some of our examination boards is that they will take into account each institution’s performance in recent years as an indicator of this year’s overall performance.
So if for example, 40% of students on a particular A Level course achieved A* in the previous couple of years then it would be expected that a similar % will achieve an A* this year. Once again this is a sensible approach and we believe we have a real advantage here as our outcomes and grade profiles in recent years have been excellent.
At the same time the College is preparing for the removal or partial removal of lockdown, at some date which has yet to be confirmed.
This will of course create a whole range of challenges including the need to maintain social distancing through i.e. having smaller class sizes and possibly partitioning classrooms, workshops and laboratories whilst ensuring that everyone has access to the necessary PPE. As we develop our plans we will be sharing them with you, our students, staff and unions to ensure we can cover all concerns.
One thing is for sure - it is unlikely to be business as usual for quite some time. Therefore, we will see a blended approach to teaching through a combination of online methods, practical assessments on campus in small groups, and support provided both online and face to face as the most likely ways forward.
Finally to return to the subject of progression, which will be a particular challenge for those students still to complete outstanding assessments and modules.
For some students this might mean that they may be unable to progress until this work has been completed and therefore you can be sure that we will be prioritising these students once we return.
But we are also working with tutors – both in the College and with local universities and employers – to see if we can teach any outstanding College work at the very beginning of their new programme and, in so doing, ensure the students are as well prepared as possible to continue with their studies.
All of this work is ongoing and my intention is to continue to keep you up to date with our progress and how it will impact on our students as we get greater clarity over the coming weeks and months.
Please also continue to visit our dedicated webpage on our response to Covid-19 which is updated regularly.
Mark Jones, Principal