It is now three weeks since I last updated students, parents and guardians about how the College is preparing – initially for our return from lockdown and then for September – and a lot has happened during that time.
Firstly I‘m delighted to report that the College has now reopened albeit initially for around just 300 vocational students. This is to allow them to undertake any outstanding vocational assessments and, in doing so, to complete their course and support their progression.
Within the next couple of weeks we will also open our Kingsway Centre which offers employability support, another priority area for the College. This team works with employers and other key partners and will continue to help to address the anticipated increase in unemployment numbers.
Throughout July and August we will continue to support more of our vulnerable students by inviting them in to College to catch up and support their progression. We will also invite all staff into College, fully adhering to the social distancing guidelines, to get them used to the revised look and feel of the College – complete with new layouts and clear signage – and to allow them to complete their preparations for our September intake.
And thanks to the strong partnerships that have been developed over many years, we have the full support of all of our recognised trade unions which means that you won’t see the challenges in colleges that other parts of the education sector are experiencing.
For me this is where studying at Gower College Swansea has a number of real advantages. Firstly we already have a model in place for September which is based around a combination of taught and practical sessions with pastoral and additional support. Some of this will be delivered on campus and some online, all of which will be flexed based on the latest government guidance.
In recent months and unlike many of our partner schools, we have been able to put this new model into practice – learning and adapting in readiness for September – an approach which both students and parents have commented positively about and which has helped us to make further improvements.
Over the summer all teaching and support staff will undertake a two week programme on digital learning and support. This means we will be able to hit the ground running in September – and this will complement the £1m plus in capital investment that we will once again make this summer.
Also, due to the excellent partnerships that have always existed across all further education colleges, we will also be able to draw on a range of excellent online resources and in some cases teaching – delivered by partners both in Wales and England, to give our students access to the very best teaching and support.
It may not be business as usual, but in many ways these current challenges that we are facing are bringing plenty of extra opportunities too.
We look forward to welcoming you in September.