A message to students
It’s been a couple of weeks since I last wrote to you and I thought it would be useful to update you not only on how the College is continuing to operate, but also to give you my best advice during these challenging times. But before I do that, I just wanted to begin by thanking you.
Only two weeks ago we moved across to a blended method of teaching and learning using a combination of digital tutorials with a variety of assessments, as well as providing additional pastoral support.
Since then, the take up by you has been outstanding. Currently we can see that 70% of our whole College community are using our digital systems for at least six hours per week. When this is added to the time taken for assessments and revision, it is clear that many of you are continuing to engage with your studies and this can only be good for you in the long run.
You may have heard that in the past week some announcements have been made by Qualifications Wales in terms of how they intend to assess and grade GCSEs, A Levels and the Skills Challenge Certificate. This will now be based on work completed to date and will be undertaken by your lecturers. However, I regret that at the current time, we are still unaware of how this is to be achieved and discussions with Qualifications Wales are ongoing. I will of course keep you informed.
For vocational courses the picture is even less clear, and we are in regular discussions with all of the awarding bodies (Agored, City and Guilds, VTCT, OCT, Cache, EAL and others) to get that clarity particularly in terms of assessments which are a critical part of your course. Once again, when we have these details we will pass them onto you.
Finally, on behalf of the College we really do understand your frustration and disappointment with the impact the current challenges are potentially having on your education. But please don’t see this as a step back, but instead see it as an opportunity. An opportunity to expand your knowledge, to further develop your skills and to prepare for the next step of your career or educational journey.
Wherever your next step will take you – university, a job, another College course, it is important that you have used this time to learn something new or to carry out some research that sets you apart from other applicants.
From a College perspective we would certainly want to ask our prospective students how you have spent the time you were away from school or from the College – and if the response was well nothing really – that’s not a great answer is it?
So my advice remains. Please continue to engage with your tutors, as we know many of you are doing, but at the same time, do carry out some informal research or reading into other areas that interest you.
Setting aside a certain number of hours per day or, at the very least, every couple of days to focus on your education and your future will undoubtedly bring benefits when things return to normal. This approach will allow you to open those doors so you can achieve everything that you want to.
Mark Jones, Principal
A message to parents/guardians
The first part of this message is a heartfelt thanks to all of our students for their continued engagement with their studies which, based on the current digital statistics, is very impressive indeed. It shows that most students are logging on to the College’s systems to interact with their tutors, friends and colleagues on a regular basis.
The second part gives an update on the regrettably limited progress being made across the wide range of awarding bodies that the College works with in understanding exactly how this year’s work is going to be assessed and graded.
For example, whilst Qualifications Wales have recently announced that results and grades (for GCSEs, A Levels and the Skills Challenge Certificate) will be based on work completed to date and undertaken by College lecturers, we are still awaiting clarity on how this will be achieved.
Currently we have even less clarity as to how practical work based assessments will be undertaken for our vocational students when we are all unable to access College facilities, equipment and resources. However, I am sure this will become much clearer soon, and we will of course update you when we have further information.
The third and final part of the message (and this is where we would appreciate your continued support) is my advice to all of our student community to not only continue to engage with their studies, but to use this time and opportunity wisely. As I have previously said, the education of our students is extremely important to us as well as their health, safety and wellbeing.
This time away from College is an opportunity for them to learn new things, or to carry out some research into an area of interest, or start to map out a potential career they are interested in. I have therefore suggested to all of our students that over this period they set aside a number of hours each day or, at the least, every couple of days to focus on their education and their future. And, in doing so, ensuring that any future applications that they make (to universities, colleges or employers) sets them apart from others who may not have used this time as effectively.
It’s a great opportunity for them to stand out from the crowd. Any help or support that you can give would be very much appreciated. Finally I hope that you and your families stay safe during these difficult times.
Mark Jones, Principal