Staff update from Katherine Burns, Principal
I hope everyone is enjoying the recent sunny weather and slightly longer days, it’s hard to beat the feeling that comes with the start of Spring. This coupled with the recent announcement of the roadmap, hopefully brings some reassurance that we’re on the way to brighter times in the near future.
As you will be aware, the government has published the ‘COVID-19 Response – Spring 2021’, setting out the roadmap out of the current lockdown. Most importantly the roadmap lays out a route to seeing our family, friends, and colleagues, whilst doing the things we love to do. The roadmap also details that face-to-face education within our centres can resume from 8th March. This comes with several important policy changes that we are currently working through.
We are planning a phased return to all centres from the suggested date of 8th March. In order to maintain the right balance of on-site and remote delivery, our plan will include a phased return to prioritise vulnerable learners and key areas that need additional support. In line with the DfE’s guidance, reduced class sizes, social distancing, and the wearing of personal protective equipment (PPE) will become mandatory for staff, learners, and visitors for the foreseeable future.
As our teams return to working in centres, there are a number of our staff that will still need to shield. If you have not yet discussed this with your line manager, please take this opportunity to do so. Managers should be aware that the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has issued revised guidance on shielding which may affect additional staff.
Please remember to reassure learners that all our online/remote learning courses will go ahead as planned unless otherwise advised.
You can read further information and recent updates on guidance for FE colleges and providers during the coronavirus outbreak by visiting gov.uk.
The changes to our services will be as follows:
- Delivery of provision
There will be a phased return to classrooms from 8th March for courses that were planned to run in centres.
Remote/online learning courses that have been planned for this term will go ahead unless otherwise advised.
Centres are currently open for vulnerable learners.
- Early Years
The ACL Early Years settings (nurseries and preschools) are currently open.
We are reviewing DfE and awarding body guidance and information and will let learners know about any exam arrangement updates for 2021. We will share further guidance for the Summer and January exams when it is provided.
- Clinically Extremely Vulnerable
Those who are clinically extremely vulnerable (staff and learners) have been advised not to attend our centres and limit the amount of time they spend outside the home until 31st March 2021. Those deemed clinically extremely vulnerable should have received a letter from NHS or local GP. For updated guidance, please see gov.uk.
- Centre information
Please ensure that you read the Safety Guidance before visiting our centres and all line managers to review their risk assessments.
If you need to use or collect equipment from centres, please liaise with the Business Operations Team and book in a suitable time to visit. If you’re working from home and concerned that you do not have the correct equipment, please contact your line manager.
Over this past year our teams have gone above and beyond to deliver a high-quality learning experience in a virtual environment. With the return to face-to-face teaching imminent, I have no doubt that we will continue to find innovative ways to provide a safe and rewarding experience for our learners.
We expect there to be several updates to guidance over the coming days and weeks which will help us form our decision making. If you have any concerns or questions, could I ask you to raise with your line manager or message the internal comms mailbox.