Harlow College understands that this is a very uncertain time for everyone who was expecting to sit exams this summer. We know that students and parents may be worried about how that might affect plans to start a course with us in September.
You will still be able to take up a place at College next academic year and we will follow government guidelines to ensure that you can progress to the right course of study.
The Department for Education has outlined plans to award students a calculated grade for their GCSEs and A levels this summer and an exam option for those that wish to take it as soon as is reasonably possible after schools and colleges reopen.
We will respond quickly and fairly to all further guidance from the government to ensure students are able to continue with their education with the minimum disruption and are not disadvantaged.
Harlow College will continue to operate a limited admissions service to ensure online applications and telephone interviews can continue during this closure period. You can access course information and apply online by visiting https://www.harlow-college.ac.uk/apply for Harlow College and http://www.stanstedairportcollege.ac.uk/about/course-guide-2019-20 for Stansted Airport College.
We received additional guidance from government late last night regarding school and college closures, and expectations for supporting vulnerable students and the children of critical workers.
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We have been asked to follow these key principles, as an education sector:
- If it is at all possible for children and young people to be at home, then they should be.
- If a child needs specialist support, is vulnerable or has a parent who is a critical worker, then educational provision will be available for them (but this can be varied as we understand by age and need).
- Parents should not rely for childcare upon those who are advised to be in the stringent social distancing category such as grandparents, friends, or family members with underlying conditions.
- Parents should also do everything they can to ensure children and young people are not mixing socially in a way that can continue to spread the virus. They should observe the same social distancing principles as adults.
- Residential special schools, boarding schools and special settings continue to care for children wherever possible.
As a College, we are continuing our planned approach to move learning online from Monday 23rd March 2020 for the foreseeable future and making separate arrangements to contact vulnerable students.
We are putting together a skeleton staff that will provide support on campus to the most vulnerable as required by government. This is being organised by line managers currently. We may also be asked to provide further assistance in the educational community, in due course, and will let you know as the situation unfolds.
Critical sectors, in response to the COVID-19 outbreak are listed here.
These sectors will be prioritised for education provision, only if they cannot keep their children safe at home. This is likely to impact most on single parents or those where both parents are key workers.
As a College we have taken the view that our students are over the age of 16 and able to remain safely at home, so will not be providing onsite provision for critical worker children, unless a student is vulnerable, and it is unsafe for them to remain at home.
In terms of College staff, we believe they are classified as critical workers as part of the education workforce. However, this will not include everyone. We are currently working through a list of people who can provide the services that we deem essential to keep operational and provide the support we require to run within government guidelines. We will provide appropriate evidence of need to your children’s schools if required.
We have had some assurances from the DfE that some of our core funding streams will still be paid regardless of student attendance onsite. This means that we have some financial security to continue on-going operations and there are no imminent risks to people’s jobs. We have sought to provide some security to those on fixed term and variable hours contracts, committing to extend contracts through to the end of the summer term.
Examinations and assessments
We are expecting the Education Secretary to outline draft plans later today and will update you once we have further information.
Please take care and wherever possible, pass on the message to your network that they should limit their contact with other people and follow the guidance on social distancing.
Further details on exams and assessments
The Government has published their broad approach to exams and assessments for those completing school or college in Summer 2020.
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 and assessments had gone ahead. Teachers will be given specific guidance on the evidence that they should use to undertake this process and prior attainment will be taken into account to ensure validity and fairness.
The aim is to provide these calculated grades to students before the end of July. In terms of a permanent record, the grades will be indistinguishable from those provided in other years.
In addition, if they do not feel their calculated grade reflects their performance, there will be an opportunity to appeal. They will also have the opportunity to sit an exam at the earliest reasonable opportunity, once schools and colleges are open again. Students will also have the option to sit their exams in summer 2021.
The full document can be found here
You will have no doubt seen the news about early years, school and college closures from next Monday 23rd March 2020, other than to particular vulnerable groups and key worker children.
Educational establishments all over the country are currently working through the implications and awaiting to receive further details from government. We do not currently have guidance on what constitutes a key worker or arrangements for vulnerable groups. Please bear with us, as we will be unable to answer any questions until we have received further details.
As soon as we have these we will send information out to parents, carers and students. For those students who were due to sit exams and take assessments, there will be plans from government in place for you to get your qualifications. We are awaiting further information and will share this as soon as available. It is still our current intention, as communicated earlier in the week, to move study online from Monday 23rd March - keep learning and stay resilient.
Having assessed the current situation, we have reached the point where it is in the best interests of our community to start transitioning to online learning as a precautionary measure because of COVID-19. We have a significant number of staff and students, who have been advised to follow guidelines on social distancing because of either age and/or pre-existing health conditions. This means they should significantly limit their face-to-face interaction with others.
Within current Government guidance, the College will remain open, but face-to-face teaching will pause from close of play on Wednesday 18th March 2020. Thursday 19th and Friday 20th March 2020 will be designated as staff development days with the exception of planned exams. Online learning will commence from Monday 23rd March 2020. We are currently working through the arrangements for individual courses. We have put in place arrangements for those in receipt of Free School Meals to access financial support and have allocated teams to keep in touch with our most vulnerable learners.
We have spoken with our local MP, Robert Halfon, who is in full support of the measures we are taking to safeguard our community.
We do not envisage face-to-face teaching restarting before the start of next term at the earliest. We understand that this is a difficult time for students who are preparing for examinations and formal assessments, but the current public health situation is unprecedented. Our sector is working closely with the Department for Education to ensure there is clarity regarding arrangements for the Summer assessment period.
We will keep you up to date as the situation changes through the News section of our website.