Julie Kapsalis is Managing Director of Chichester College Group

Coronavirus first came on to my radar at the end of January. At Chichester College Group (@Chi_College) – the largest provider of further education in Sussex spanning four colleges – we have large numbers of international students, and as the outbreak in China worsened we flagged it on our risk register and kept a close eye on the situation.

As things unfolded through February and March, we began to develop plans including supporting students to return home early, establishing a quarantine block in our Halls of Residence and beginning to track the travel plans of all of our staff and students – especially post half-term and with the growing cases in Europe.

This work helped prepare us as we had to turn our plans from our international markets to the domestic situation. With over 20,000 students across four campuses and a number of commercial businesses, we had to mobilise and plan for potential physical closures quickly.

A month later and we are all adapting to a new way of working. We managed to get all of our international students’ home through some heroic efforts and support from airlines, embassies and my team. One of the last groups to leave were our students from the Falkland Islands. We are now continuing to teach them online and provide support to enable them to complete their courses and studies.

In other areas of our business, our childcare nurseries continue to provide care for children of keyworkers and our colleges remain open where we have vulnerable learners but we have, like so many others, now fully transitioned to online teaching and learning. It has had its challenges but I have been blown away by the innovation of our tutors and the engagement of our students. Along with core learning, pastoral support and care is critical and it is heart-warming to have people ask ‘how are you?’ and really mean it. I have also had to adapt my style of management and communications to support my team but it has made us stronger and even more supportive of each other.

As we look ahead to recovery, skills will play a vital role in supporting the economy. This includes looking at more short courses which can enable re-training and upskilling; this will also support the diversification of so many businesses that we continue to see and which may need to be in place for some time given the likely continuation of self-distancing measures. As part of this, there is an ongoing need to enhance digital skills and address skills shortages in sectors including engineering and healthcare.

I am also Vice-Chair of Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and we are working hard to support businesses in our region. The impact in and around Gatwick is significant along with our coastal communities and the challenges facing many of our growers in caring for and harvesting their crops. I was proud that the LEP launched a grant fund, ‘Backing Businesses’, to provide funding to help firms adapt, innovate and evolve to survive the current situation. We have supported a wide range of businesses from breweries, gin distillers and travel, hospitality and retail companies.

As we look ahead to the easing of lockdown, as a LEP, we are now looking at how our Local Industrial Strategy evolves to be a ‘Recovery Strategy’. In considering this, we are looking as much at the social impacts as the economic ones.

Lastly, and on a personal level, I admit that I found last week hard. My two children (aged seven and nine) started back at virtual school and whilst there were challenges around uses of technology, finding space for them to have ‘desks’ (computers etc), I had underestimated the emotional support they needed. I have now adapted my work diary to have a family break at lunchtime where we can discuss any issues or concerns and we all agree that we log off by 6.00pm to play football in the garden.

Through all the challenges of the past few weeks, and 40 days into lockdown, it has been the support of my family and colleagues that has been vital to enable me to remain focused and make difficult decisions to adapt our ways of working and operating as a business.

Julie Kapsalis is Managing Director of Chichester College Group, Vice-Chair of Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership and a Director of the Institute of Economic Development

You may also be interested in these articles:

Sponsored Video

Advertisers

Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In May 2020, FE News had over 120,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.

Podcasts

We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.

Events

FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page