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Principal’s update for parents/guardians (5 October)

We are now well into the autumn term and I thought it may be helpful, for parents and guardians, if I reflect on these past few weeks and our decision to return to face to face teaching for our full time students.

As you’ll be aware, the College has taken a very different approach to schools when it comes to the management of student bubbles – where they are essentially based on the student’s class.

We have also taken what we believe is an innovative and unique approach to A Levels where each student’s A Level programme is delivered on a different day, thus reducing the likelihood of transmission of coronavirus.

What this means is that bubbles are relatively small and therefore in the first three weeks, only one class of 20 students have had to self-isolate. This is quite different to the numbers that have had to self-isolate in some of our local schools Olchfa (455), Bishopston (230), Pontarddulais (169) and Cefn Hengoed (157) – this is because each year group has been set up as a separate bubble.

But before you ask why we have taken a different approach, it is important to appreciate that our approach is incredibly labour intensive.

We have had to effectively mobilise the College staff so we are welcoming students off the buses, into the campuses, to their classrooms and chaperoning them through their breaks so they are adhering to our enhanced safety measures which include sanitising hands, wearing face coverings in communal areas, and crucially keeping classes apart from each other.

This work has involved help from staff from right across the College. In addition, our lecturing teams are maintaining a two metre distance at the front of the classroom with many other support staff wearing personal protective equipment. It has been a huge team effort.

And as for the students – well it’s not ideal that they are unable to catch up with friends in other classes during the day – but of course they can catch up via social media if they wish. 

The students themselves – or 99% of them – have been great, arriving with masks on, sanitising their hands without needing to be asked, and following the instructions and guidance of staff without complaining. They have also enjoyed being back in College, even if it’s not exactly as it used to be.

And going forward? We remain convinced that as well as our Plan A, our face to face approach, we will also need a Plan B, a more blended approach of face to face delivery plus online learning – which we will probably need to move to during the year if a class or individual student needs to self-isolate. 

It is this blended approach that we have been working on and developing since the first lockdown in March. Therefore, before October half term, we will begin to pilot this with individual taught classes. To do this we may ask students to stay at home for a day or two, and to engage with the College through a combination of online streaming, recorded lessons and workshops – and we would ask for your support at that time.

I hope that this gives a fuller picture of the work going on at the current time and our future plans, but should any parent or guardian have any questions please do not hesitate to get in contact.

For further updates, please continue to check out dedicated Covid-19 webpage.

Thank you

Mark Jones

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