College reveals how it will support students through coronavirus
- Credit: Archant
A further education (FE) college will move not just lessons but its entire support network online as schools are ordered to close following coronavirus concerns.
Stuart Rimmer, principal of East Coast College, with campuses in Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth, said: “We’re rebuilding the college community online - mobilising staff and students on a scale never seen before to provide continuity for their education and vital support for our communities.”
Most importantly, the college has bought 600 laptops for staff and students to ensure that “no student is left behind or disadvantaged” as institutions across the country prepare to lose months of face-to-face teaching.
Mr Rimmer said: “The college has developed a model of inclusion and community focus in a time of isolation and despair for so many.”
In a statement, the college said: “Crucially, online tools such as Moodle and Pro Monitor will allow for daily contact with staff and interaction between students - to bring as much of the classroom atmosphere to the home as possible.”
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Sue Richerson, a parent of one of East Coast’s students, said: “The college seems to really understand just how vulnerable these young people are, and continues to keep them safe and in learning.”
To ensure students do not feel isolated and lose focus, a “study buddy” scheme is being put in place, pairing students up so that they have daily contact with their peer group.
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A student said: “Having my own laptop means I can carry on learning and studying for my A-levels. It’s a weird time but it means a lot to know I can stay in touch with my mates and my teachers even if I’m stuck at home.”
In terms of its pastoral responsibilities, the college confirmed that counselling services would remain accessible online.
And, given that household poverty is an issue, with 500 16-18 year olds on free school meals in Great Yarmouth and Waveney, the college announced it would provide them with a pre-paid card which allows access to a daily budget for food from local supermarkets.
The college has also been using its kitchens to bake bread for the local community, offering a lifeline to at-risk groups facing empty supermarket shelves.
The college said: “Despite the social and economic impact of COVID-19, East Coast College have a message of hope for the community.”