5 January 2021

Dear Student (cc Parent/Guardian)

Important Update Regarding Your Studies

Further to my letter to you all last week and in response to the latest Government announcement last night, I am writing to update you on the College’s revised plans for your programme of study for the next half term.

Virtual Lessons

The College will now be shut to all students for onsite face to face delivery until Friday 12th February, in the first instance. Please do not attend any college site until further notice.

Your live online lessons will continue as set out in my letter last week, for the next two weeks. 

From Monday 18th January, your existing timetable will move wholly on line. Where previously you would have had college-based practicals, these will be replaced by online lessons which could be a mixture of live practicals and/or theory lessons.  This should enable us to increase the proportion of practical opportunities in college for the summer term.

Your tutors will share revised timetables with you next week, to be followed from Monday 18th January.

Exams

As of writing, the Department for Education have yet to make a revised decision regarding exams due to take place tomorrow and through the next two weeks, despite I know a huge amount of lobbying from ourselves and the majority of colleges up and down the country.

I have therefore decided that the College will cancel all of these exams on the basis that to my mind the Government should have done. We are now in a national lockdown and I believe it is unfair to ask our students and staff to expect these to go ahead.

In doing so prior to the Government confirming this, there carries a marginal risk that students will only have one chance to sit the exams for the first time later in the year, which is why I delayed this decision for as long as possible today. However, I do believe this is in everyone’s bests interests and am confident that awarding bodies will in time ensure that student grades and opportunities are not at the detriment of this situation. I am therefore certain that there will be alternative opportunities to sit them later in the year, or alternative methods of assessment will be developed.  In either case, and for all those of you who have had exams cancelled or postponed, we will be in touch with you regarding those alternative arrangements as soon as they become clear.

Support

I recognise that these ever changing and challenging times will be difficult and stressful for all of us at some point but would wish to reiterate our desire across the College to support you as much as we can through these coming weeks. The Inclusive Learning and Development team are offering online learning support in a variety of forms including:

  • Group  sessions on using Microsoft Teams and the assistive technology available
  • 30 minute 1:1 Structured Support sessions which can be booked through the Inclusive Learning and Development team  via your  tutors or self-referral
  • Online Learning Support Assistants  in some virtual theory lessons (as per your existing timetable)
  • 1:1 sessions with a Key Learning Mentor for identified students
  • Personal Development Programmes for identified students

Please get in touch with your personal tutor, progress coach or contact:

Our Student Wellbeing & Safeguarding team are available Monday to Friday, 9am - 4pm to help students access emotional support. This could include general support and advice on wellbeing, details of support services in your area, or referral to counselling through the Plumpton College Counselling Service provided by As You Are Counselling Centre.

The team can be contacted via:

As we move to remote learning please also take this opportunity to review your knowledge around online safety. Have regular open conversations with your son/daughter about their internet and social media use, check in on where they access their information and who they are communicating with. Remind them to think about what they share, block unwanted contact or content, report unsafe behaviour. Our Student Wellbeing & Safeguarding Manager will be following this up in a student email about wellbeing and online safety.

The College is also keen to work with those of you who may still be having some challenges accessing your virtual lessons. In order to be able to do so effectively, a smartphone is not sufficient and therefore we continue to make laptops available for students to borrow should you need them. We also have ways of supporting you with poor internet connectivity, so if either of these apply to you please do get in touch with our IT team at helpdesksupport@plumpton.ac.uk.

If you would like to learn more about Microsoft Teams, our platform on which our virtual lessons are delivered we will be running support sessions for students and parent/guardians throughout the week of the 18th January.  Please contact vle@plumpton.ac.uk if you would like to be booked in.

Residential and Bus Ticket Refunds

I can confirm that refunds will be processed for all bus ticket purchases and residential places for the period from 4th January to 12th February. These will be automatically reimbursed onto the card by which they were paid and will be passed to you by the end of next week.

Finally, and as I said in my letter last week, please do continue to stay motivated and focused on your studies. Attend your lessons, apply yourselves and support your peers.  Everything you do and contribute to in these coming weeks will count, whether that be now, at the end of your course or in helping to shape your future career.

Please also stay in touch. I have valued the contact with so many of you over the past week, and don’t hesitate to continue to get in touch if you have any queries.

Best of luck and very best wishes as always. 

Jeremy Kerswell

Principal

Categories: Updates from the Principal, Covid-19

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