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Hopwood Hall College: A virtual leap forward during uncertain times

@HopwoodHall College started the year on a high. With Principal and CEO Julia Heap and her dedicated team ushering in a new era, it seemed there was nothing to stand in the way of a record-breaking 2020.

Then came an unforeseen challenge: the coronavirus. 

This worldwide pandemic has led to unprecedented circumstances for many industries – and the education sector has not been immune to the obstacles it’s presented. In just a matter of weeks there needed to be a complete overhaul of the way in which education was delivered across the country.

The College reacted quickly and decisively upon assessing the needs of its students and staff. It moved its operations online, giving learners continued access to new lessons and information through the platform ItsLearning. This took them off campus, but kept them firmly on track to achieving their goals.

In terms of the students, their attitude towards this change has been nothing short of exceptional. Learners from different subject areas – from Accounting and Maths to Fitness and Plastering – have proven that no hurdle is too big to overcome. The current circumstances have simply afforded them the opportunity to showcase their resilience in an entirely new way. 

Those studying Uniformed Public Services or Health and Social Care are even being driven by a new sense of duty as they work tirelessly towards their goals. These dynamic learners will one day be the key workers that will keep the public safe and well in times like these – and it’s the knowledge they’re accessing now that will get them there.

Meanwhile, staff have also demonstrated a remarkable flexibility. There’s been a willingness to utilise different tools and embrace new systems and methodology away from traditional face-to-face teaching. This has led to students having continued access to workloads that are both stimulating and consistent. 

It’s very much a case of business as usual when it comes to the next generation of students. The College is still welcoming applications, with a diverse range of full-time and part-time courses to choose from, including Access and Higher Education options.

Virtual campus tours and a virtual open event are being developed, offering the learners of tomorrow the chance to explore the buildings, grounds and unique facilities without leaving their homes. The new technology will provide these future learners with their first opportunity to experience College life.

In the end, it hasn’t just been the learning that’s moved online. Instead, the community has also made the leap. The College’s social media and digital platforms are capturing the spirit of the two campuses, acting as a place for further enrichment and support. Whether it’s promoting virtual museum tours or student-led fitness workouts, there’s still the same vibrancy that the College has become renowned for.

The phrase ‘business as usual’ is unfortunately not one that rings true for many right now. But at the College, the transition to online learning has only strengthened ambitions. It’s simply the case that a move into unchartered territory isn’t enough to test the core values that make the place a success. 

Principal and CEO, Julia Heap, said: “While the current conditions have brought challenges, we are determined that these will not derail our students, who we are supporting to ensure they remain as focused as ever. 

“We always encourage our learners to aim high and keep their goals in sight – and that’s exactly what they’re doing now.

“The students remain the drivers of their own destiny and nothing is going to stop them from reaching their full potential and tasting the success that they deserve. 

“We are doing everything we can to ensure they stay safe, stay positive and stay focused.”

People all across the country are looking ahead to the future – and that’s the same for Hopwood Hall College. However, because of the ways in which students and staff have responded to the outbreak of COVID-19, there’s a new wave of optimism and reason to stay positive.

 The College understands that this is a stressful time for learners and their families. It’s not always easy to look beyond the here and now, but those students who can do this have every reason to anticipate that a bright future lies ahead.

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