26th May 2020
Hello everyone – I hope that this update finds you and your families well.
With the May half term upon us, I thought it would be useful to provide an update on the actions NSCG is continuing to take to support students, prospective students, apprentices, employers and other key community stakeholders during these challenging times.
Supporting Current Students
Since the closure of most of our main provision on 20 March, we have been maintaining learning for all of our students through an extensive range of on and offline delivery.
For students continuing at NSCG next year, we are committed to ensure that you remain as up to date as possible on your current study programme, and have been delighted to see high levels of engagement with tasks and activities set to date. Following recent Government announcements, the Senior Management Team has been working on comprehensive plans to allow us to reopen both campuses safely in June, with a gradual and phased return of both staff and learners. It is likely that we will invite selected Year 12 students back into college before the end of term, on a part-time basis to ensure the continuation of learning and we will write to the applicable students to confirm arrangements once plans are finalised. In the meantime, please continue to work hard and stay in touch with your tutor.
For students who will be progressing from NSCG to the next stage of their educational or career journey over the summer, the focus has been on completing their programmes of study, achieving the best possible outcomes and preparing as much as possible for these next steps. Students who need to have a skills assessment to complete their course will be invited in to college as soon as it is practical and safe to do so. We are really disappointed not to be able to send progressing students off with the usual fanfare at the end of the summer term, but do plan to uphold the traditional end of term Sports Awards and Celebration Awards in a virtual manner and we hope that many students will be able to tune in to these events online.
At this stage, it is too early to confirm plans for results days, but please rest assured that when we have further information to communicate we will be in touch.The College is closed during w/c 25 May 2020 for half term, but provision to support a small number of current students who are classed as vulnerable (e.g. have EHC plans, are classed as looked after children and/or have a social worker allocated) will continue for three days a week at the Newcastle campus from w/c 1 June 2020.
Supporting New Students
We understand that all students will have had an unusual and highly unsettling end to the current academic year and we are keen to reassure any student who will be joining NSCG in September that there will be a place for them. We are still welcoming applications from school leavers and adult learners via our website and have recently hosted a number of Virtual Open Events and online Q&A sessions that were well attended by both new and existing applicants.
Our dedicated staff team will work relentlessly to support the transition to NSCG in September and ensure that all learners are on the right level and the right programme to match their future progression and career goals. Throughout the summer term all curriculum teams will be in touch with applicants to set summer work, answer queries and ensure new students feel as prepared as possible for college life.
We are following the current Government guidance to help shape detailed plans for enrolment, induction and the start of term in September and we will be in touch with all applicants during July to confirm specific plans for each curriculum area.
Supporting Employers & Apprentices
As the largest apprenticeship provider in the region, we remain committed to developing a skilled workforce that will be vital in supporting the economic recovery effort once the current restrictions start to ease. Throughout this challenging period, our work based learning team have been supporting businesses large and small, in countless industries.
Whilst uncertainty continues to remain for many businesses and apprentices, our Assessors have been carrying out their duties in a ‘virtual’ manner and have been supporting those employers who have apprenticeship vacancies to fill, and apprentices who are able to continue with their studies through our Smart Assessor system. For apprentices nearing the end of their current programme, as soon as it is practical and safe to do so, we will work closely with you to make arrangements for you to complete your End Point Assessment.
Supporting Our Community
Last week, NSCG were pleased to support Mental Health Awareness Week and appropriately, this year’s theme was kindness. We are so proud of the many acts of kindness and compassion that we’ve seen across our entire college community during the pandemic, from staff and students busily crafting PPE to support the NHS and care homes, to selfless volunteering, donations to foodbanks and much more – you can read more about what we’ve been up to here on our Facebook pages @NSCGNewcastle and @NSCGStafford.
Our key priority is the safety and wellbeing of our students and staff as we continue to navigate these challenging times. Like schools and colleges across the country, we are now carefully considering the most recent Government guidance and are formulating a phased plan to gradually re-open both of our campuses. We already have significant work underway at each site to prepare for the return of staff and students, including social distancing measures, enhanced cleaning arrangements, safety briefings and training/staff development. In the coming weeks, we will communicate directly with staff, students and prospective students at appropriate junctures on the progress of these plans and will share further insight on how we plan to operate our facilities, whilst observing strict safety protocols.
Our current plans are based on a partial return to learning for selected students in June and a full return to learning in September – however, we are also working on contingency plans in the eventuality that this will not be possible. Clearly, much uncertainty remains, but please be reassured that we will continue to follow the latest Government guidance and student and staff safety will be at the heart of every decision we make. We will continue to provide updates in a timely manner and will give you as much notice as possible of changes to current arrangements.
As always, thank you for your continued support. I hope you manage to get some rest over half term and I’ll be back in touch with further updates once the summer term resumes.
Karen Dobson OBE, Principal & Chief Executive