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Latest College Information – Covid-19 (Coronavirus)

This page will provide you with the latest information and updates about Covid-19 (Coronavirus) in relation to the College.


UPDATE 20-01-2022

Latest Guidance for Students and Staff

Face coverings are no longer mandatory in classrooms but we expect students, staff and visitors to continue to wear them in communal areas.

We know that the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic are still being felt strongly by everyone and we are committed to making the experience of students and staff at College as fulfilling and productive as possible. In return, we ask that you continue to support us with the measure we have taken to make this possible.

You will be aware that it is the Government’s intention, supported by College leaders, to maintain face-to-face teaching and learning wherever possible. The College has never closed its doors during the Covid-19 pandemic and will take all possible measures to maintain its education and training offer.

The Secretary of State for Education, Nadhim Zahawi, wrote to all childcare and education leaders on 2 January, 2022, to outline the Government’s current intent fully to reopen education settings and the measures needed to fulfil this. This open letter can be viewed here. College leaders are supportive of the Government’s intent and, in consultation with students, staff and trade unions, will implement all necessary controls to maintain its education and training offer to its students. This may include the introduction of new measures at any time, sometimes at short notice – see below regarding face coverings.

New variants of the Covid-19 always pose an additional threat, as is currently the case. The College is following all Government guidance in order to open fully to all students from 5 January, 2022. Due to the uncertainty about future infection rates and the impact this will have on staff and student absence, it may be necessary to move certain lessons online at times. This will be communicated to affected students who will be made fully aware of how their course will continue and when it is likely that they will be able to return to campus.

Face Coverings

Along with all the control measures which are in place on college premises, students, staff and visitors are requested to wear face coverings in communal areas. This excludes when eating or drinking, and if individuals are medically exempt. The College still recommends their use in classrooms and workshops.

Students will be politely reminded of this each morning as they enter the college, and at points during the day. Please respect these requests, remembering that face coverings are recommended to reduce the risk of transmission of the Covid-19 virus both to the individual wearing the covering, and others.

A small stock of disposable face coverings is available from the reception desks, on request.

Exams

At present, it is fully expected that exams planned for January and February will go ahead as planned.

Covid-19 Testing

As communicated by the College in December, all staff and students are requested to undertake a Lateral Flow Device (LFD) test the evening before, or the morning of their return to campus. It is then recommended that staff and students carry out LFD tests twice weekly. Test kits are available from college.

Self-Isolation

The self-isolation advice for people with Covid-19 changed on 30 December, 2021. It is now possible to end self-isolation after five days, following two negative LFD tests taken 24 hours apart. The first LFD test should not be taken before thefive day. The full guidance is available here.

In addition to this guidance, Colin Cox, the Director of Public Health at Cumbria County Council, has written an informative letter to parents and carers. Whilst much of this information is not relevant to young people of college age, it remains a useful document to refer to, should the need arise. The letter can be found here.

Summary

We welcome back our students and colleagues as we continue to navigate our way through the pandemic together. Whilst the situation may be extremely challenging and, at times, worsening still further, we are confident that we are in an excellent position to continue our outstanding education offer to all.

Finally, if you are finding things difficult, please speak to someone, be a family member, friend or colleague. As always, we have an extensive system of support in place for our students (see below) and our staff who are requested to speak to their line manager or one of the Human Resources team.


Teaching and Learning during a pandemic

Our students and staff may have faced challenges learning and teaching in lockdown but we’ve seen many examples of how the commitment to a new way of working has paid off through student progression and created many new opportunities.

Please find a series of case studies, below, that feature:

  • A media student who has produced work of a higher standard thanks to his commitment to engaging with college during lockdown and staff support;
  • An innovative home ‘work’ placement initiative that 3 of our A level physics students will be undertaking;
  • Impressive engagement and progression results from our CORE programme, which works with 16-18 year olds who have a barrier to learning;
  • Our new Digital Summer School.

Lockdown Case studies

Media student Jack Griffiths has been recognised by his tutors for overcoming the challenges of learning in lockdown and making impressive progress.

Jack, who studies the Level 2 Media Diploma at Furness College’s Channelside campus, said he had developed his study skills and improved his own time-management.

“It was a new way of learning which I wasn’t used to and it was difficult at first,” he said. “However, the tutors made communicating easy as they were always there to help me and to answer any questions that I had.”

Due to the swift suspension of face-to-face teaching due to the global pandemic, Jack found he didn’t have all the software installed on his computer to enable him to complete the work at home.

However he was quick to get in touch with college to raise this and is one of more than 50 students who borrowed a college laptop to ensure they could continue learning.

In order to keep a routine of college work flowing, Jack would email his tutors at time his lessons would usually start to check in and to see which work he needed to prioritise.

He is full of praise for his tutors saying: “The tutors were very helpful and showed me many examples to ensure my work met the criteria. Margaret Graveson was especially helpful as she ran through the different steps of each task.”

Jack used the circumstances to develop his own set of time-management skills, setting himself deadlines to complete unfinished work alongside any new work.

“Working from home has taught me to be more independent and has enabled me to use my own resources in order to get the work completed,” he said.

Jack has the ambition of working in the media industry in the future designing media graphics, producing flyers and posters and creating large presentations.

He wished the tutors well and he hopes to see them in September.

Head of Area Simon Irving said: “I kept seeing lots of praise comments from my team about Jack. He has done fantastically well during lockdown in terms of engaging remotely and the excellent work he has produced despite facing challenges. He has worked so hard and shown massive commitment to his studies in lockdown.”

When the Coronavirus hit and lockdown began, Barrow Sixth Form College physics tutor Vincent Leonard decided he did not want students to miss out valuable career experience.

He worked with the Ogden Trust to access their summer internship programme with 70 hours of work.

The Coastal Energy Internships programme normally provides bursaries for sixth form students to undertake a 20-day placement with a local energy company in the summer.

The internship would usually be done in a company environment but this year the programme found another solution, offering project-based internships that could be carried out at home.

Vincent said the opportunity was opened up to all first and second year A Level students with three so far taking up the challenge.

“Having the chance to apply what they learn in the classroom to real-life scenarios will stand them in really good stead whether they decide to go on university or straight into employment after sixth form college. It will enhance their STEM skills, help them build connections with a business and enable them to see how they work in an energy sector environment.

“Our students represent the future workforce of these companies. They are full of fresh ideas and I hope the businesses will really have their eyes opened by the innovative thinking they apply to these projects.”

Students will be linked to one of three supporting businesses – Vattenfall, ScottishPower Renewables and James Fisher Marine Services – who launched the projects via a recorded webinar to the students.

The projects range from developing and building and offshore windfarm to designing a work-class remotely operated vehicle (ROV) for use in subsea activities.

 

Furness College’s CORE programme (Creating Opportunities for Real Education) supports students who struggle in a traditional college environment and give them the skills and confidence to progress into the workplace.

During lockdown due to Covid-19, the CORE programme has seen 82 per cent positive progression into employment, Further Education or apprenticeships.

Job opportunities were posted on a ‘moving on’ section on the Teams site with people taking up roles in care homes, retail in supermarkets and enrolling for higher courses at the Channelside campus including engineering, construction and hair and beauty.

Others will now go to sixth form in September to study animal care in the college’s new partnership with Myerscough College.

CORE Operations Manager and Senior Coach Ami France said: “Of our 45 students, ten per cent are unable to work but we have been able to find progression routes for 82 per cent of them so far. By keeping in contact with them and posting available and suitable roles on the site many have secured employment in lockdown.”

Another example that shows the high level of engagement is the fact that one group of 18 students filled a Teams feed with over 1,100 messages as they communicated around a project.

“Our achievement rate is over 80 per cent and that is high given that circumstances in lockdown meant we could not offer the usual 1-1 support that students in this group are used to. This can be a hard to reach group but they really did adapt to a new way of working, often overcame barriers with access to IT and engaged independently.”

Another group worked together in the digital space on a high quality presentation about the impact of Covid-19 on mental health.

Ami said they team had done some home visits and follow up phone calls but once students got involved in the online learning, they really embraced it.

“I’ve been so proud of them and what they have achieved,” she said. “To have 85 per cent of students engaging with us in lockdown is impressive and a real testament to the staff and the students themselves and this is what has led to so many of them achieving jobs and places on further education courses.”

Read the full report here:

Throughout March staff observed the news of school closures in different parts of the country as the pandemic rapidly developed. To prepare students for the eventuality of closure, we incorporated an induction to Microsoft Teams into a regular enrichment session. Students were sent emails and links to access information on the college VLE and webpages.

When the college closed due to COVID 19 students left the college with a “how to guide” on accessing systems. Student contact details were checked and updated and students were asked to confirm they could log into the system. Information was sent out for a second time to both student and parent emails. As remote online learning became a reality, we also supported our students by offering a loan agreement for devices for any students that required this.

Delivery During COVID 19

To kick start each session we ask students to access the online check in area in Teams to ensure they are online for student wellbeing and that they are ready and able to receive support for online learning.

Students enjoy checking in with staff and this has been important to “touch base”.

To support student wellbeing, we have developed a student area. In this students can access links to:

Pastoral support (mental health support, emergency contact numbers, how to request home visits).

Moving on – Progression opportunities are shared here, such as college courses, part time employment and links to develop skills such as Barclay’s Lifeskills Virtual Interview.

General updates – this includes reminders about attendance, bursary updates, celebration updates

Praise board – To celebrate the fantastic work students are producing online, or even just managing to get online.

In addition to this we have developed am online Teams class for student voice which is led by the college’s Student Liaison Officer allowing students to have their say confidently, freely and to give accurate feedback on their experiences and to take part in opportunities that may be available to them.

Staying in contact

Core is using Teams to keep in contact with students, this is being done in a variety of ways such as group calls, direct messages and comments (depending on risk assessment).

All students receive a regular call from the teams Pastoral Support. If staff identify any concerns with a student this can lead to daily calls or home visits.

There are many wellbeing resources and links on our Teams pages and we update staff regularly with information that can be applied during the regular home conversations.

Staff have regular staff meetings through Teams with staff wellbeing an agenda item.

Making work accessible online

We have provided a wide range of materials, links and resources on our Teams pages. For students having difficulty accessing learning online, paper based work is emailed to agency support workers or has been delivered during home visits.

As time has progressed through learning online, the team are working together and in weekly meetings improvements for online learning are discussed, highlighting concerns, sharing knowledge and experience of online learning tools and the encouragement of staff CPD. We are finalising a standardised approach to online learning, based on an ongoing review as part of the regular team meetings so students have the same “classroom experience” in every virtual classroom, for example the same way to check in, receive praise and access assignments according to their identified needs.

Staff have developed tutorial videos for both peers and students to make the students learning experience accessible and meaningful.

The team are continually exploring new and inventive ways for delivery, considering the students learning styles and their preferred ways of learning.

Supporting students, parents and carers.

We use weekly phone calls with parents and students, and when difficulties arise we put action plans in place to support student re-engagement in their education.  We recognise the challenge for some students to learn at home, and for this reason we have been flexible in our approach to assessing and supporting students.

Throughout the pandemic with the business need in the area for temporary work, some students have successfully gained temporary employment. Through one to one appointments we have been able to offer flexible learning for students, to enable them to access both work and learning.

The college safeguarding team are using robust information management systems, as well as meeting weekly to discuss concerns regarding students. This also includes student access to a daily duty member of the safeguarding team, drop-in sessions within the college and notifications for how to access support on the pastoral support page on Teams

Furness College has revised the way it will introduce students to its campuses as part of a digital transformation accelerated by the Coronavirus global pandemic.

This year it will launch a Digital Summer School for all new and returning students to prepare them for the future way of working in September.

Kerry Culley, learning resources manager, said the team had come up with the idea to ensure that students at both the Channelside and Rating Lane campuses had a head start on their studies and could hit the ground running.

“The pandemic brought about swift changes to our day-to-day working as all lessons moved online,” she said. “We had to adapt to the change and we’ve been really impressed with the response from our students so far.

“To ensure a smooth transition for new and returning students in September, the learning resources team has adopted some fresh-thinking and we’ve come up with a comprehensive package of sessions to be delivered on our virtual learning environment.

“The sessions will ensure all students are familiar with the college systems they will using well in advance and they will be able to access all systems they will need from day one.”

She said information covered will be delivered in a fun and engaging way.

It will include how to access the virtual learning environment and their own Office 365 account, sessions on using Microsoft Teams to communicate with tutors and participate in online classes, ways to access online library and learning resources, online study skills and masterclasses on assessing and improving digital learning skills.

Alongside learning there will also be an online induction to college life.

Details of the Digital Summer School will be sent to each returning student and those enrolled on the college’s wide range of programmes – from A levels to BTECs, GCSEs to degrees – from September 2020.

Visitors to our campuses should complete this short induction video

We have also completed two short videos for students who will be new to college next September. View them here:

Channelside campus- https://youtu.be/3HgDagjOa50

Rating Lane sixth form campus – https://youtu.be/kc0pNReOcGQ


Student Welfare Helpline
Are you a current student who is struggling? Call 01229 825017 to access support for:

  • Welfare issues
  • Finance/Bursary/Hardship
  • Safeguarding
  • Family support
  • Mental well being
  • Period Poverty worries

We have access to various sources of support and can help you with advice and guidance. You may need someone to talk to, support with your mental well being or to access IAG from student services, whatever it might be give us a ring and we will try to help.


Response from Furness College Students’ Union
The Union is proud to say that the college has reacted incredibly well, with the students’ welfare at the front of every decision. So far, the college has the following provision:

  • A drop-in service for vulnerable students with a handful of key staff. This allows students to get support, if needed;
  • Shared mental health resources (links to Kooth, SAFA etc.)among staff to help struggling students;
  • The Union has been promoting GoodSAM among the student body to help increase the community response to the virus;
  • The college staff have delivered food parcels (and other essential supplies, I.e. hygiene packs) to the students who need them most;
  • The tutors are all delivering sessions online, however the sports facilities are also doing daily exercise videos for students to help them keep active during the lockdown;
  • A student welfare hotline and duty officer to answer any queries and provide support during normal college opening hours.

Inspira is still open to support young people with careers information advice and guidance.


Further Information
The Department for Education (DfE) has launched a new helpline to answer questions about COVID-19 related to education. Staff, parents and students can contact the helpline by telephone and email:
Phone: 0800 046 8687 Email: DfE.coronavirushelpline@education.gov.uk
The helpline is open from 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday.


Channelside
Barrow-In-Furness
Cumbria
LA14 2PJ
Rating Lane
Barrow-In-Furness
Cumbria
LA13 9LE
Contact Us Tel: 01229 825 017 (Channelside Campus)
Tel: 01229 828 377 (Barrow Sixth Form College)
Email: info@furness.ac.uk
Business Support Tel: 01229 844 836
Email: businesssupport@furness.ac.uk
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