World Cup-winning mentality helping college through coronavirus

PUBLISHED: 11:31 17 April 2020 | UPDATED: 11:33 17 April 2020

Stuart Rimmer, chief executive of East Coast College, and students.  PICTURE: East Coast College

Stuart Rimmer, chief executive of East Coast College, and students. PICTURE: East Coast College

East Coast College

An East Anglian college is taking inspiration from the culture of English sports stars to get through the coronavirus crisis.

The pandemic is changing how college’s work in the “largest educational experiment since the Victorian Era” according to East Coast College.

Since schools were closed, the college has been teaching remotely rather than at its campuses in Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft. This means rather than a teacher leading pupils through lesson plans, students are now doing self-guided study and turning to their teachers should they need help.

They are using technology to support this by keeping in contact over social media and messaging platforms. Virtual groups have also been set up to help students and staff keep in contact, these include a book club, prayer group and a running club. Access to counselling services has also been increased.

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Stuart Rimmer, chief executive of the college which employees 600 staff, said: “Colleges are built from connections between people. We are in the greatest leadership challenge for a generation: faced with transferring whole institutions to working from home with little notice whilst simultaneously undertaking the largest educational experiment since the Victorian Era. We see this as an opportunity for growth rather than a source of stress.”

Ann Wall, director of people and wellbeing at the college, said: “We’ve been incredibly conscious of the sudden impact home working has had on our teams. Ask any member of the East Coast College family what their favourite part of coming to work is, and they’ll say the people they work with.”

Underpinning the college’s efforts is an idea that came from the world of professional sport. Mr Rimmer said: “We’re developing a sense of teamship across the college. This is a term I stole from former England World Cup-winning rugby coach Clive Woodward a couple years ago. It is the result of individuals coming together with shared purpose and deeply caring about other members of the team.

“This drives collaborative behaviours and increases trust, both of which can transform staff and students experience of college life.

“We are all to some degree experiencing loss. It’s the role of leadership in these times to lean in and focus on securing teamship.

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