South Devon College COVID-19 important update to students, parents and carers

12th June 2020

From 15th June 2020 the College will commence face to face learning and assessment to limited groups of students in the 14 to 18 year old age range including South Devon High School Year 10 and some students who are completing the first year of a two-year course (equivalent to year 12).  In addition to these groups the College plans to commence some end of year practical assessment for students on vocational and technical courses including apprenticeships.  The College will also continue to offer individual support sessions by arrangement with learning support staff or through the positive intervention team.

All students returning will be contacted directly and given specific details including the dates, times and arrangements for their sessions.  Please note that we are not returning to the normal timetable which ended on 23rd March 2020.

When students attend in person our priority will be to ensure their welfare and over the coming weeks we are adapting our environment and putting measures in place in line with Government guidance to ensure students and staff will be safe from Monday 15th June.

We have produced a welcome back video to give an idea of what to expect when returning to College.

From 15th June we will continue our online and home learning approach.  For some groups we will begin to move away from subject related learning and focus more on ensuring students are ready for their next steps.

For students whose exams have been cancelled or where no more assignments have been issued due to COVID-19, we can reassure you that staff are working in accordance to instructions from the respective qualification awarding organisations to calculate and submit grades to support the awarding of qualifications during the summer.

We are working in response to Government directives and may need to adapt our plans in light of these but we will communicate any changes and provide new information as and when necessary.

Our dedicated COVID-19 page has updates and information of all support services available should you need them.

Finally we wish you and your families well over the coming weeks and encourage you to monitor our website and social media channels for further information or contact the College via your tutor or Helpzone on 08000 380 123

Laurence Frewin

Principal and CEO

South Devon College

26th May 2020

 

How will COVID-19 affect my exams and results? 

The current situation has impacted heavily on how your studies will be assessed this year and the college is working very closely with the organisations who award your qualifications (the exam awarding organisations). There are many different qualifications that are studied at the college and we have summarised the approach to them below. There are still some decisions to be made on how results will be finalised at national level but please be reassured that we are working closely with the organisations to ensure that the outcomes you receive are fair and reflective.  

All GCSE, AS and A Level summer 2020 examinations have been cancelled. However, that does not mean that students will not receive a grade for all their hard work. 

The Department for Education has set out how students will receive grades for their GCSE and AS/ A Level work. This will be done by asking lecturers to estimate the grades that students would have got if there had not been any disruption to their teaching and examinations. 

To provide these estimated grades, lecturers will use a wide range of evidence, including classwork and homework, together with the results of mock exams and assignments. Lecturers will consider any usual additional learning support received or agreed reasonable adjustments in place when estimating grades. 

Results will be released on the published results days as originally planned. These are 13th August for A level and 20th August for GCSE. The grades awarded to students will have equal status to the grades awarded in other years and should be treated in this way by universities, colleges and employers. 

Students who feel that their grades from the summer do not reflect their ability will have the opportunity to take their exams in the autumn series or in summer 2021. If you choose to do this, you will be able to use the higher of the two grades for future progression. 

It is important to remember that College staff cannot comment on the estimated grades, nor upon the grades that students will ultimately be awarded. Student results are decided by examination boards, who take into consideration the information that South Devon College has supplied.  

Read the latest information from Ofqual (updated 5th May)

It has now been confirmed that some technical and vocational qualifications, such as BTEC will be treated in the same way as GCSEs, AS and A levels, and students on these qualifications who are due to complete their qualification in the summer of 2020 will receive a calculated grade.   

For qualifications which will receive an estimated grade, this will be done by asking lecturers to calculate the grades that students would have achieved if there had not been any disruption to their teaching, assessment and examinations. Lecturers will also consider any usual additional learning support received or agreed reasonable adjustments in place when estimating grades. 

 For qualifications where there are links to occupational competence, there will be a need to adapt or postpone the assessment until a later date instead.  We will be in contact with students directly after half term to confirm these arrangements.  

Members of staff at South Devon College are not able to discuss with you individually what grade they might submit for you. In any case awarding organisations have their own quality and moderation processes which they will be applying to any data we send to them 

We will not know your final grades until they are released by the awarding organisation. We are expecting the results to be released for most vocational and technical qualifications on the same dates as the GCSE, 20th August (for full level 2 qualifications) and A Level, 13th August (for full level 3 qualifications) results day, however this will not be the case for all vocational qualifications.  

The results and grades awarded to students will have equal status to the results and grades awarded in other years and should be treated in this way by universities, colleges and employers.

In the next few days, Ofqual will provide final details for every college and school to follow and we will continue to keep you up to date.   

Read the latest information from Ofqual (updated 24th April) 

On 9 April Ofqual confirmed that Functional Skills will be treated in the same way as GCSEs, AS and A levels, with students who are due to complete their qualification in the summer of 2020 receiving an estimated grade. 

This will be done by asking lecturers to estimate the grades that students would have got if there had not been any disruption to teaching and examinations.   

Ofqual is working with awarding organisations to agree a common approach for every school and college to follow when calculating and submitting estimated grades for their students. In the next few weeks, Ofqual will provide further details for every college and school to follow and we will continue to keep you up to date. 

Read the latest information from Ofqual (updated 24th April)

Should I be continuing to study and complete work this term?  

Your tutors should be contacting you to discuss any work, or outstanding assessments, that need to be completed and handed in. You should contact your tutor if you are unsure whether you have any outstanding work.   

If your tutor confirms that you are no longer required to submit any assessments this term, we are still asking you to continue home learning. It is important for a number of reasons:  

1. Gaining the skills and knowledge to progress to your next stage: whether that’s the next academic year with us, university study or employment. We want to make sure we have supported you with all the content your course would have included for you to take your next step.  

2.  It’s good for your mental wellbeing. Having a positive focus for your day is good for your mental health.  

3. For assessments next year. Awarding Organisations have provided assurance of an extra exam window in the autumn for those who are unhappy with their calculated grade or feel they can do better. You need to have the skills and knowledge for this option to remain open to you. Those of you in the first year of your qualification, we are supporting you to develop your knowledge and skills ready for the assignments and exams that you will sit next year.

Government Guidance for households with possible Coronavirus infection

Please see the Government website for the latest guidance for households with possible Coronavirus infection:

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

 

Support services available to students outside College

Mental Health:

Samaritans: Call: 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org or visit www.samaritans.org

Mind: 0300 123 3393 or text 86463 or visit www.mind.org.uk/information-support/helplines/

Kooth: Trained online counsellors through an app www.kooth.com

Cruse: Bereavement Care call 0808 808 1677 or visit www.cruse.org.uk

Housing:

Torbay Emergency Housing:

Under 16 call Children’s Services on 01803 208100

16-17 go to Paignton Connections office in Paignton library or Out of hours call 0300 456 4876

Devon Housing Options: visit www.devon.gov.uk/care-and-health/adults/housing-options

YES Centre Youth Homeless Prevention Team, Newton Abbot Call: 01626 202530 or visit www.youngdevon.org/where-we-work/newton-abot-yes-centre

Domestic Abuse:

Torbay Domestic Abuse Service: 01803 698869 or visit https://www.sanctuary-supported-living.co.uk/find-services/domestic-abuse/devon/tobay-domestic-abuse-service-tdas%20SPLITZ%20Devon 0345 155 1074 or visit www.splitz.org/devon.html

Food bank: Torbay PATH 172 Union Street, Torquay (Opposite Jolly Judge): 07763 398238 open daily and evening hot meals provided from 6:30pm

Brixham Food Bank: Open Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons from 2pm-4pm. They are located in The Torbay Room at the back of the Brixham Town Hall, behind the library TQ5 8TA

Finances:

If you are struggling financially during this time please contact your local job centre plus if you are eligable for certain benefits and consider contacting your local Citizens Advice Bureau for advice. You may also find useful information on the following link: www.gov.uk/browse/benefits

We will continue to issue communications via email, our College website and the usual College social media channels. Teaching staff have started communicating to their students directly on a course specific basis. 

I wish you all the best at this difficult and challenging time and thank you for your support and understanding. 

FAQS for Students, Parents and Carers

As at Monday 27th April 2020

Question Answer
Is the College closed? At the instruction of the Government, the College closed for face-to-face delivery from Monday 23rd March 2020. We continue to support the learning of students from vulnerable groups and those students with an Education & Health Care Plan (EHCP). We have directly contacted these students, or their parents and carers.
Do I have to continue studying? Yes, we are committed to ensuring that learning continues despite the restrictions and we want our students to be just as committed to the learning work set for remote study. As already planned, staff will ensure that learning continues online or that home study packs are available where online study is not possible.
What time is the College open for students who the Government have requested to continue with educational provision? The College is open between 9am and 3pm.
Will Duty Managers be present on site (Paignton Campus) during the coming weeks? Yes. This information will be shared via the plasma screens in the normal way.
What IT support will be available to me when working from home? Please contact the Helpdesk using the normal email address: helpdesk@southdevon.ac.uk
What is happening to this year’s exams? We have received information from Ofqual (Government Exams regulator) advising how the GCSE and A Level grades will be awarded for the summer 2020 exams season. We have been reviewing this information since its release to ensure we can provide all students with the necessary advice. We will write to all students studying these levels to confirm details and arrangements.

We are also working to provide advice for our Year 11 applicants, to ensure we can answer your questions. Please be reassured we are continuing to accept applications and will ensure all applicants are placed on the most appropriate course for their ability and career goals.

If you have any questions, please contact us via enquiries@southdevon.ac.uk

 Will I still get a grade? The Government has announced that A Level and GCSE results this year will be partially based on teachers assessing the marks they think students would have got.  If students are unhappy with their grades, they will have the chance of sitting exams at a later date.

The exam regulator, Ofqual, and exam boards will work with teachers to provide grades to students whose exams have been cancelled this summer, following our actions to slow the spread of Coronavirus. This means ensuring GCSE, A and AS level students are awarded a grade which fairly reflects the work that they have put in. There may also be an option to sit an exam early in the next academic year for students who wish to. Ofqual will develop and set out a process that will provide a calculated grade to each student which reflects their performance as fairly as possible, and will work with the exam boards to ensure this is consistently applied for all students.

The exam boards will be asking teachers, who know their students well, to submit their judgement about the grade that they believe the student would have received if exams had gone ahead. To produce this, teachers will take into account a range of evidence and data including performance on mock exams and non-exam assessment – clear guidance on how to do this fairly and robustly will be provided to schools and colleges. The exam boards will then combine this information with other relevant data, including prior attainment, and use this information to produce a calculated grade for each student, which will be a best assessment of the work they have put in.

Ofqual and exam boards will be discussing with teachers’ representatives before finalising an approach, to ensure that it is as fair as possible. More information will be provided as soon as possible.

The student results will be released in line with the normal summer timescales for these qualifications. In terms of a permanent record, the grades will be indistinguishable from those provided in other years.

We will also aim to ensure that the distribution of grades follows a similar pattern to that in other years, so that this year’s students do not face a systematic disadvantage as a consequence of these extraordinary circumstances. It is therefore important for you to complete the work you have been set to maximise the opportunity to get best possible grades.

Will I still be able to progress to further studies? The Government’s priority is now to ensure affected students can move on as planned to the next stage of their lives, including going into employment, starting university, college or sixth form courses, or an apprenticeship in the autumn.

The College is still processing applications for study in 2020/21 and guidance is available through a range of mechanisms – see our social media posts for more details.

How can I access support for health and wellbeing? Please use our College enquiries number:

08000 380123

What software is available to students for studying from home? Students can download Office 365 for free using their College email address. Contact the Helpdesk for support if needed.
Will I still get my Free College Meals? All vulnerable students who receive a Guaranteed Bursary and Free College Meals will still be entitled to receive this support, irrespective of whether they attend the provision or not. There will be an additional £10 per week added to this amount for Guaranteed Bursary students to purchase food. Free College Meal students are being paid weekly by bank transfer – contact our Helpzone on 08000380123 for any queries.
When will the College be open again for face-to-face delivery? We certainly hope to be able to reopen as soon as possible. As soon as we have more information, we will update our website accordingly.
Do I still have to report myself as absent if I am too unwell to take part in remote learning? No, you do not need to phone the absence line. Your tutors will be monitoring your levels of engagement on an ongoing basis.
What is happening with bus passes for the summer term? All bus passes were sent out before Easter, prior to travel restrictions being put in place. There is a limited bus service still being run by Stagecoach, the passes can still be used, including for travel to and from part-time work and to and from the College for those in eligible categories.  We do not know how long the travel restrictions will be in place for. Please do not cancel any direct debit payments – the College will cancel direct debits if a card is returned by post or dropped off in the letter box on the front of the main building at the Paignton campus. Post is being processed several times per week. Please note, once a bus pass has been returned, it cannot be re-instated at a later point when travel restrictions are relaxed.
What happens about applying for the next level of my next course in September? Please still apply for the next level of your course. The Helpzone Team will liaise with your current tutor and we will be in touch with either a telephone interview or to confirm your place.
I am starting at South Devon College in September – how do I know if my place is secured? If you have been interviewed and offered a place on a course, please be assured this offer still stands.  An email was sent after the Easter period confirming this.  If you have applied but have not yet been interviewed, you will be contacted in due course with details of a telephone interview.

 

 

 

 

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