Telford College has announced plans to create a new ‘blended learning’ timetable which will allow all students to safely return to the campus in September.
Principal and chief executive Graham Guest said flexibility would be the key factor for staff and students over the coming months.
The Government has today published new safety guidelines which give colleges the go-ahead to ‘fully re-open’ for the new academic year in September.
The plans are built on the principle of keeping classes or whole year groups apart in separate ‘bubbles’ wherever possible.
Mr Guest said: “Our priorities throughout the whole Covid-19 period have been to save lives, protect student achievement, and ensure that students have a place with us in September.
“Inevitably, there are going to be different curriculum plans for different areas, reflecting the contrasting needs of our students, and the practical nature of many courses.
“But as a general principle, we are building a blended learning timetable for September which will involve most students spending much of their time in college, but also studying from home.”
He said the new Telford College timetable would involve staggered start and finish times, with students spending time on site whenever possible, but with restricted use of social areas around the campus.
Online learning platforms which have been operating successfully for the past few months will continue to be used to deliver some elements of the curriculum remotely.
“Attendance and attainment rates during lockdown have been very good, and we are delighted by the way students and tutors have embraced the challenges,” Mr Guest said.
“But we know that online learning can never fully replace face-to-face teaching, so the majority of our students can expect to be dividing their time between college and home-based studies from September.”
He added: “As the Government points out, education is essential to a student’s healthy development – and missing too much can have a negative impact on their mental and physical wellbeing.
“There is a delicate balancing act, and we are working hard to make sure all possible practical measures are in place for the start of the September term.
“Our overall objective is to ensure that students can be taught a broad and balanced curriculum, and be able to catch up on any study time which may have been lost over the past few months.
“Where any students are self-isolating, we will have plans in place to offer remote education – just as we have been doing with great success since March.
“I want to say a special thanks to all the Telford College staff, who have done a fantastic job in these challenging times.”
A small number of students have already returned to Telford College over the past few weeks to complete practical elements of their courses, or sit final exams.
Susan Alder, Telford College’s director of student services and marketing, said: “It’s clear that these students have welcomed the chance to be back on site.
“They have shown their appreciation for the social distancing and sanitisation measures in place, and say the college has made them feel safe.”
Level two technical engineering student Ben Ward Davies said: “Being in college is much better than simply studying online. I have been able to complete so much more, and it has been great to have real-life interaction.”
Andrew Williams, on the same course, added: “It has been great to be back. My tutors have been working with me remotely, but being on site and having actual access to my tutor to talk face-to-face has made completing my qualification so much easier.”
Telford College has found creative new ways of delivering its curriculum during lockdown, and the application process is now under way for the 2020/21 academic year, starting in September. Full details can be found at www.telfordcollege.ac.uk/apply.
Video interviews are available for potential candidates, and a ‘virtual open event’ is showcasing courses and facilities, and answering questions HERE