As you will have heard, yesterday the UK government took the decision to close all schools and colleges. As a consequence, the college will unfortunately close to students from 3.20pm on Friday 20 March. It is currently not possible to give exact details or timings on the process for reopening.
Working from home
Fortunately, much has been done in the past few days to ensure that we are able to offer an ‘online’ learning experience for all of our students. We very much appreciate your support in ensuring that all our students, as far as is possible, stick to routines and approach their studies with commitment. As a college we will ensure that we continue to provide both academic support and pastoral support in the most effective way possible. All students have been made aware of our ‘working from home’ expectations and, in the next day or two, pages are being added to the college website that give full details of what this working from home means for a Year 12 student and a Year 13 student. Please check this information so that you are aware of what support is being provided.
Summer 2020 examinations
The Secretary of State for Education has announced that all examinations scheduled for the summer of 2020 will not take place. As I write this letter there is considerable uncertainty about the consequences of this decision for students and how or if grades will be awarded. There is no point in me adding to the speculation that is taking place. The message we have given to students is that we intend to complete all of the courses that we deliver, albeit using ‘online learning’. We strongly advise students in year 13 to undertake the work that is being set for them on Moodle.
There is no doubt that as well as the obvious health concerns that we all have; financial worries will also be an issue for many. We have endeavoured to ensure that Bursary and Free School Meal payments will continue to all eligible students during the period of enforced closure. We do have systems in school to identify students in need, but these are unprecedented times and if you do find yourself in very difficult circumstances, have wellbeing or safeguarding concerns then please do contact the college on [email protected] and we will try to help if possible.
Support for vulnerable students and key workers
During the Prime Minister’s announcement, he was clear that schools and colleges would play a key role in supporting the most vulnerable students and in supporting key workers within the community to fulfil their important roles in this challenging time. Throughout today and tomorrow, pastoral staff will speak to vulnerable students about their needs so that we can provide on-site support throughout this period.
We do not however have a clear picture of which parents/carers are key workers. We are also unclear on which of those key workers would like their son/daughter to have access to college whilst we are formally closed. We are still waiting for more specific information from the government on who is classed as a key worker in the specific response to COVID-19 however the Prime Minister did reference the following workers in his speech:
- Health workers in the NHS
- Police officers
- Social care workers
- Distribution workers (delivery drivers)
In order for us to be able to fulfil our important role, we are asking that requests from key workers are formally registered with college using the following email address: [email protected]. Please provide the following information on your email:
- Student name
- Parent/carer name
- Parent/carer job title
- A clear statement that says that you would like your son/daughter to be able to attend college during the formal closure.
- Specific information of working days and hours that you would like your son/daughter to attend college.
Only those that have registered their need as detailed above will be provided access to the college site. In order to reduce the transmission of this virus, the college will only provide ‘skeleton’ staffing levels whilst we are formally closed. We have to be able to provide the appropriate staff ratio in relation to the number of students that have formally registered as needing to be on site.
These are challenging and uncertain times for us all, however, I will do my best to provide regular updates to ensure that you are all fully aware of the latest position at the college. The priority is the health and wellbeing of the wider college community and I ask that we all do what we can to support those who find themselves in the most challenging of circumstances.
We will continue to add important information to the college website. This will include a range of email addresses that can be utilised to access support. These will be constantly monitored in the days and weeks ahead to ensure that help, advice and guidance can be provided. Be reassured that we will continue to communicate to students, parents and carers, especially as we plan the reopening of the college.
Finally, in these challenging times I do wish to offer my sincere thanks to the students, staff and parents/carers who have done everything possible to ensure that the Elliott Hudson College community remains strong.