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You will have seen the recent update from the Prime Minister in terms of progress made against the four-step Roadmap that the government set out in February to ease restrictions. As part of the first step, we saw the re-opening of schools and colleges from 8th March, followed by further changes from 29th March. Step two was then introduced from 12th April and on Monday 10th May, the Prime Minister announced that we are on track for step three, which will take effect from Monday 17th May.
What does step three in the Roadmap mean for us?
Last term we saw the return of most of our students with the final groups of adults returning after the Easter break. In preparation for step three, the government has updated the guidance for colleges and there are a couple of things to highlight:
1. Face coverings in schools and colleges from 17th May
The updated guidance states:
Based on the current state of the pandemic and the positive progress being made, it is no longer necessary to recommend the additional precautionary face covering measures put in place from the 8 March.
From 17 May, in line with Step 3 of the roadmap, face coverings will no longer be recommended for pupils and students in classrooms or communal areas, in all schools and FE providers. Face coverings will also no longer be recommended for staff in classrooms.
In all schools and FE providers, we continue to recommend that face coverings should be worn by staff and visitors in situations outside of classrooms where social distancing is not possible (for example, when moving around in corridors and communal areas).
Recognising that FE teaching environments are diverse and can include vocational and workplace training environments, FE providers can have the discretion to recommend the use of face coverings by students and staff , if it is appropriate for their particular circumstances. FE providers may consider recommending the use of face coverings where teaching settings are more reflective of a workplace environment such as, a training kitchen.
Our approach is that we will continue with the wearing of face coverings in communal areas for ALL, so for both staff and students. However, staff and students no longer have to wear face coverings in classrooms. Should staff and students choose to still wear them in classrooms that is permitted.
We will keep this arrangement in place for the 2 weeks leading to May half term and review the situation once again.
2. Testing for schools, colleges and other further education providers from 17th May
The guidance on testing has been updated but this does not require us to make any further changes. We already knew that testing was being extended to Friday 23 July 2021 (this date is to tie in with the end of term for schools, not colleges). Since March, we have been providing students and staff with home testing kits and this will continue under the latest guidance, with on-site testing reduced to a limited service.
What else is happening this term?
Over the coming weeks we will continue to focus on supporting our students to achieve. Whether this is via our tuition fund to address any gaps in learning or taking them through the various quality assessment processes that are in place to enable students to achieve their qualifications this year. The process of awarding Teacher Assessed Grades (TAGs) for most Level 2 and Level 3 courses has been confirmed and we are well underway with this.
Students are being kept up to date via their teachers, SLA’s and managers. Any questions at all, please do just ask. Further details of TAGs will be issued to students this week and copies sent to parents/carers and guardians. A copy of the latest information, can be found here: Teacher Assessed Grades (TAGs)
We are keeping our plans under constant review and we will continue to update you as the position changes. One thing that will never change is our absolute commitment to providing all of our students with an excellent learning experience, so that they are supported to succeed and realise their goals.
Our website will continue to be updated with the latest information and all students are advised to check this regularly for the latest updates.
Principal – West Thames College
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