Covid-19 continues to present many challenges for the education sector. But it’s vital to ensure that Shropshire’s young people – the workforce of tomorrow – are not disadvantaged or left behind.
We have transformed the way we deliver learning over the past year, and have robust plans in place to see us through the rest of the academic year, whatever lies in store.
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Online platforms such as Microsoft Teams have become an essential tool in the remote delivery of our curriculum. Attendance levels through distance learning remain well above the national average, and we have invested heavily in the latest technology.
We have also handed out around 100 laptops to help vulnerable or disadvantaged students to access learning and stay connected while studying at home.
It’s all about helping students to achieve, efficiently and safely.
Once again, there will be no A level or GCSE exams this year, with grades decided instead by teacher assessment.
It’s not ideal, of course, but at least the Government has made a relatively early call to remove uncertainty. And I welcome the vote of confidence in the expertise of teaching staff, who are better placed to give an accurate assessment than any computer algorithm!
Not all exams are cancelled, however, and we have turned our sports hall into a Covid testing area to ensure that students can feel safe on campus while attending for BTEC, NCFE and other tests, which continue.
Despite these day-to-day challenges, we must also be constantly looking to the future, and
Telford College is excited to be playing a role in the multi-million pound development of the town’s new ‘Station Quarter’.
We are working with a number of partners to create a new ‘digital skills hub’, which is part of a drive to skill-up the local workforce for an increasingly digital world.
We see this as a unique alliance between industry and education, and an opportunity to expand our provision in a way which is accessible to a greater proportion of people across the borough, which would raise people’s aspirations.
It’s also about supporting local employers to ensure they can develop the sort of workforce they require – and help to retain these important skills in the town.
And it dovetails perfectly with our role as an active and enthusiastic member of Telford Business Board, helping to drive positive change and champion the strengths and opportunities in our economy.
If Covid has taught us anything, it’s that Shropshire has the drive, creativity and innovation to chart a path round any obstacles thrown in our path.
Let’s recognise, celebrate and continue to nurture that spirit of entrepreneurialism.