27th March 2020

Department for Education - update on the government’s response to COVID-19 (coronavirus).

Guidance on implementing social distancing in education and childcare settings

On 24 March, we published new guidance on how to implement social distancing in education and childcare settings. This guidance also gives advice for individuals in vulnerable health groups:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-implementing-social-distancing-in-education-and-childcare-settings

It is important to read this alongside the overall guidance for social distancing: • https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-on-social-distancing-and-for-vulnerable-people/guidance-on-social-distancing-for-everyone-in-the-uk-and-protecting-older-people-and-vulnerable-adults

School governance update We have published an update about school governance which includes guidance in relation to coronavirus (COVID-19): • https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/school-governance-update

Resources for educational settings

We have updated our guidance for schools and other educational settings on how best to provide advice about coronavirus (COVID-19). A new poster resource is now available:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-educational-settings-about-covid-19

Collection of guidance for educational settings on GOV.UK

All of the Department for Education’s coronavirus guidance for educational settings can now be found in one place on GOV.UK:

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-schools-and-other-educational-settings

Handwashing advice

The most important thing individuals can do to protect themselves is to wash their hands more often, for at least 20 seconds, with soap and water. Public Health England recommends that in addition to handwashing before eating, and after coughing and sneezing, everyone should also wash hands after using toilets and travelling on public transport. The latest guidance and video on hand washing can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-the-public

Department for Education coronavirus helpline

The Department for Education coronavirus helpline is available to answer questions about COVID-19 relating to education and children’s social care. Staff, parents and young people can contact this helpline as follows:

Phone: 0800 046 8687

Opening hours: 8am to 6pm (Monday to Friday), 10am to 4pm (Saturday to Sunday)

Experiencing high volumes of calls.

24th March 2020

SUMMER EXAMINATIONS AND OTHER ASSESSMENTS ARE CANCELLED

The government has announced that there will be no primary school assessments (SATs) or secondary examinations (including Functional skills, GCSEs and A-Levels) this summer. The Department for Education (DfE) in conjunction with Ofqual has issued a statement which says that:

• Teachers will be asked to submit their judgements about the grade that they believe their students would have received if A-Level and GCSE examinations had gone ahead this summer. • Teachers will use a range of evidence, including mock examination results, course work and non-examination assessment, as well as other student data to help them do so. • These judgements will be used by examination boards to produce a ‘calculated grade’. • The grades awarded will reflect student performance as fairly as possible. • Calculated grades will be provided to students before the end of July. • In terms of a permanent record, the grades awarded in 2020 will be indistinguishable from those provided in other years. • 2020 examination grades awarded will not be used to judge school performance and no 2020 national performance tables will be published. • Students will be able to appeal the calculated grades they have been awarded and to sit examinations early in the next academic year, if they wish to do so. • Ofqual will work with examination boards to ensure this process is applied consistently. • Universities will operate similar arrangements to award degrees. However there will be no award ceremonies held in 2020. • Universities are expected to be flexible in supporting students’ entry to higher education.

With reference to vocational and technical qualifications not yet completed, the statement from the DfE says, ‘There is a very wide range of different vocational and technical qualifications as well as other academic qualifications for which students were expecting to sit examinations this summer. These are offered by a large number of awarding organisations, and have differing assessment approaches. In many cases students will already have completed modules or non-exam assessment which could provide evidence to award a grade. All Students need to continue to work online and successfully complete this academic year, so that staff can award them with the most appropriate “calculate grade” of their performance for 2019/20.

All Students are reminded that it is essential to successfully complete all work set in this current year in order to progress on into next year.

20th March 2020

The emergency decision of 18th March to close schools and colleges, and the cancellation of summer examinations, was unusual and truly unheard off. Staff in the College have received a high number of queries about the details of this announcement and the situation is changing at such a fast pace that there are still many unknowns and not enough answers at the moment. However, we will strive to answer as many questions as we can, and by working closely with colleagues in close contact with the Government and other official bodies, to keep you informed of the decisions made, when they happen and their implications.

The College will act based on the evidence, advice and the situation we face.

Staff in the College will work in the best interests of staff, students and our local community, and are putting measures in place to deal with these changes. We will maintain a number of key staff to manage corporate services and carry out other essential services.

For most students, the College will be closed for an indefinite period, with effect from midday, Thursday 19th March 2020, however some students will be advised to attend.

Examinations

The advice received regarding public exams from the Office of Qualifications and Examination regulation (Ofqual) is that students should continue to prepare for examinations and other assessment as normal.

Further information on the current situation

The following websites and links below may be useful:

Stay at home guidance for households with possible coronavirus (COVID-19) infection.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance

COVID-19: guidance on social distancing and for vulnerable people

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-on-social-distancing-and-for-vulnerable-people/guidance-on-social-distancing-for-everyone-in-the-uk-and-protecting-older-people-and-vulnerable-adults

Coronavirus (Covid-19) Overview – NHS

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

COVID-19: guidance for educational settings

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-educational-settings-about-covid-19/guidance-to-educational-settings-about-covid-19

I want to take this opportunity to reassure you that we are confident we are doing everything we can to support our students, staff and the local community. We appreciate that this is a difficult time for everyone and will send out further communications when information is available.

We truly thank you all for your support and we echo the following words of Gavin Williamson, Secretary of State for Education, who has asked for this message to be passed to all those who work in the education sector:

“The government recognises the huge importance of the role you have played in maintaining the education, training and social care of our children and young people during this challenging time. I recognise that you will have the same anxieties as the rest of the country about your health and that of your families. On behalf of the Prime Minister and the entire government, I thank you all for all of your work so far, and your continued support. I am deeply grateful for the civic spirit and dedication of everyone working in education, and I will continue to provide my full support throughout this crisis.”

Our priorities are to save lives, to protect student achievement, and to ensure that students have a place in College next September. When this crisis is over we can get back together, so in the meantime keep safe.

Best wishes

Sarbdip Noonan Principal

Department for Education coronavirus helpline

The Department for Education coronavirus helpline is available to answer questions about COVID-19 relating to education and children’s social care. Staff, parents and young people can contact this helpline as follows:

Phone: 0800 046 8687

Opening hours: 8am to 6pm (Monday to Friday), 10am to 4pm (Saturday to Sunday)