Coronavirus Updates

1st October 2020

Dear students and families

 

As ever, we’re very keen to stay in touch with you throughout the challenging year before us and to make sure you know what we’re doing to try and keep everyone safe and well as the pandemic crisis unfolds further.

The first thing I’d like to pass on is our very great thanks.

 

Students have almost all been wonderful in working with us to be part of our safety strategy. All of our efforts will only work if everyone changes their behaviour and does as we ask and this is mostly happening. Thank you to all those who have adapted so well.

 

But we do have to remind you to be very strict in taking the actions we ask of you. Please follow the guidance of staff members at all times and use the Group’s facilities to keep you safe. In addition, we ask you to:

  • Wash or sanitise your hands regularly
  • Observe the social distancing arrangements in place in your College
  • Wear a face covering over your mouth and nose outside classrooms and workshops
  • Stay strictly within your curriculum bubble
  • Catch any coughs and sneezes in a tissue and bin it
  • Download and use the NHS App to help keep you linked into the national test and trace system
  • Isolate at home and get yourself tested if you have Covid-19 symptoms

 

We know that all these measures are inconvenient and not always easy, but we do have to protect everybody. Young people aren’t generally so badly affected by the virus, but our staff and your parents and grandparents can become seriously ill. So a big thank you to all of you who are following all the measures we have put in place, you are saving lives!

 

I attach a letter from the Government to give you more information about arrangements for testing.

 

I also attach some information about Kooth, a local service available to you to support you with any wellbeing or mental health concerns that you may have.

 

I do hope things are progressing well for you and that you are enjoying College, even if it is a bit different from how we would all like it to be.

 

Best wishes,

 

Peter Mayhew-Smith

Group Principal and CEO

Coronavirus update 1st October 2020.pdf

 

16th September 2020

Dear students and families

 

First of all, a big warm welcome to you as our new academic year gets under way. Thank you so much for joining us and being part of our College. I hope you’re enjoying life with us.

 

 

Our induction programme draws to a close during this week and our normal lessons are beginning at last, so we all hope you can see your course coming to life now.

 

 

But it is not a normal term and you will be well aware of all the restrictions and changes affecting our behaviour as you start at College for this academic year. We have to ensure you that you are both safe and successful. We are working very carefully to balance these two requirements and we ask you to work with our wonderful staff team to ensure you stay well and learn lots at the same time.

 

 

We have added our ten actions we want students to take to remind you once more of the measures we have in place to protect you from the Coronavirus. You will need to read these alongside our risk profile form to help you assess your own personal situation.

 

 

We have also produced a guide to the things you may need to do if you have symptoms or you live with someone who has symptoms. This is also available with this letter.

 

 

Please keep yourself aware of the guidance that is being circulated and take care to follow it.

 

 

We are here to help you and, if you have questions or concerns, please make sure you raise them with your teachers and course tutor.

 

 

It’s also important to note that some of your lessons may be on-line. We have done this to ensure we reduce the number of people on-site at any one time.

 

 

We are confident that your College is safe and we will be very active in responding to the situation as it changes. It is possible that we may in the future have to close a part of the College, but, for now, we are running specially-adapted full timetables.

 

 

We wish you all possible success as your start your course and hope you enjoy your time at College very much.

Best wishes,

 

 

Peter Mayhew-Smith

Group Principal and CEO

Coronavirus update 28th August 2020.pdf

 

 

28th August 2020

 

Dear students and families

Welcome to South Thames Colleges Group.

 

We are delighted that you’ve made the decision to come and study with us at the start of what is going to be an academic year like no other.

 

We know that your time with us will be highly successful and that we will work with you to make sure you have a great future ahead of you after College. Your teachers will work with you over the next few weeks to agree your goals and make sure you are stretching yourself to do your best. We expect you to attend 100% of the time (whether you are at College or having an on-line lesson) and to work hard, but will support you with all the challenges you have to tackle.

 

But we are also very keen to keep you safe against the possibility of Coronavirus infection.

We ask you to do two things before you start College in a few days’ time:

1. Please read our ten rules. It is vital that you play your part in keeping Coronavirus out of our Colleges and help us protect our staff and other students.

2. Please review your own risk. We have a risk profile document attached that sets out all of the possible risk factors and would like you to consider whether you need additional advice or to take further actions to protect yourself.

 

We have also changed our curriculum to make sure it allows for you to attend College safely and we have specific measures in place in each part of the College. Your tutor will explain these measures to you and we ask that you stick closely to the plans we have made for your safety and wellbeing.

 

Thank you so much for coming to study with us.

 

We’re looking forward to getting the year started soon and wish you a very happy, productive and safe programme of study at South Thames Colleges Group.

With best wishes,

 

Peter Mayhew-Smith

Group Principal and CEO

Coronavirus update 28th August 2020.pdf

 

 

8th July 2020

Dear students and families

This has been the strangest and most challenging of terms for all of us, staff and students, at South Thames Colleges Group. We all hope that you’re well and managing the next stage of the Coronavirus crisis with some certainty.

 

 

To us, it is essential that our students are able to plan for the future and so we have tried to make sure that everyone has completed their qualifications and has a good idea of what they’re going to do next year. We want to support you to be able to move forward in your life and take up the opportunities before you and have tried to provide progression tutorials to all full-time students. Please let us know if you need any more advice and guidance to help you make choices about your next steps.

 

 

We also want you to stay well and safe throughout this Summer and Autumn and remind you to be very careful about following Government advice in terms of hygiene, social- distancing and awareness of the symptoms of Coronavirus infection. We depend on each other to be very careful and we would like you to continue to be part of the national effort to curb the spread of the Coronavirus.

 

 

Please be sure to follow the Government’s guidance, which you can read here:

https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus

 

And we would like you to look after your mental wellbeing too. The NHS in South London have published a set of resources to help us all cope with the challenges of the lockdown and the changes we can expect to life now that the lockdown is beginning to end. The pack of resources is available here:

https://swlondonccg.nhs.uk/your-health/mental-health/covid19-resource-hub/

 

Finally, we all want to wish you well for the future. If you’re staying at one of our Colleges to study further next year, that’s wonderful news and we’ll welcome you very warmly when you’re back with us in the Autumn. If you are planning to move on, we’re delighted that you’ve got your next steps worked out and send you all our very best wishes for a happy future ahead; do let us know how you get on!

 

With best wishes,

 

 

 

Peter Mayhew-Smith

Group Principal and CEO

Coronavirus update 8th July 2020.pdf

 

22nd May 2020

 

Dear students and families

I do hope you’re well and managing the impacts of the lockdown successfully. Please continue to act on government guidance, staying safe and protecting yourselves and your loved ones at every step. We want everyone to come through this successfully. Please let us know if there is more we can do to support and guide you.

We have a number of important measures to share with you now:

 

Calculated grades

Right now, teachers across the Group are working hard to arrive at gradings for students and have them ready to submit to the different Awarding Bodies in the next few days. The deadlines are very tight and the scale of this piece of work is very great, so please bear with us while this work is completed. This may mean that the flow of things for you to do at home has slowed down, but we will pick this up again shortly.

Different courses have different methods for calculating grades., but your course team are working on the right approach for you and your particular course. They will be in touch if they need anything further from you, but are now focused on getting the grades right and sent to the Awarding Bodies on time.

We cannot discuss grades with anyone and the controls that have been placed on this process are there to protect everyone from any incorrect results entering the system.

But you are studying at one of the best colleges in the country, where students pass at rates far above the national average. It is on our excellent track record that a great deal of our grading decisions will be based and this provides some level of guarantee to you.

 

Return to study

We are going to reopen our Colleges for a limited number of students on 15th June. The only students we will ask to return to College are:

  • Vulnerable students who need direct contact with College staff

  • Students who still have to complete practical assessments on-site to secure their

    qualification

    We will make sure you know well in advance if you fall into one of these categories and give you a date and a time for you to attend College.

We are sorry that we will not see many of you again this summer, but we will not be able to bring all of our students and staff back to College safely and meaningfully in the few weeks we have left. We believe that your safety and that of our staff are our first priority here.

However, we will be keeping you busy.

Every full-time student will have a personal tutorial either or on-line or by telephone to help make sure your plans for September are in place and can be delivered successfully.

We will also make sure that you have opportunities to continue learning if you are able to. We will provide activities and assignments during June for you.

 

Progression

We know very well that this is a terribly uncertain time for you and we want to take some of that uncertainty away by confirming that we will be using calculated grades and other evidence to award places at our Colleges for next year. We will be in touch shortly to confirm the next steps and will have a safe and secure enrolment system ready very soon to minimise direct contact between people wherever possible.

We wish you well through all of these challenging times and look forward to working with you on your next steps.

With best wishes,

 

Peter Mayhew-Smith

Group Principal and CEO

Coronavirus update 22nd May 2020.pdf

 

17th April 2020

 

Dear students and families

As ever, everyone at South Thames Colleges Group wants to make sure you’re safe and well so I begin by saying that I hope you’re in good health and sticking very carefully to all the government guidelines designed to protect us.

 

Our Colleges remain closed, but we are getting ready for the new term ahead by preparing as much distance learning for you as we can. Our different teams have been hard at work looking at how they can keep you involved in your studies but away from College and they will be contacting you from Monday 20 April to let you know what’s happening with your course for the weeks ahead. 

 

We would also like to update you on the position with course grades. We are still awaiting some more information from the DfE, but we expect to base grades for you on the system of calculation now in place across the education sector. This will mean that carefully considered grades will be awarded to all students by our course teams working with the exam bodies nationally. We will set this out in more detail when this is published by the Government. This system will work and it will be as fair and consistent as it possibly can be in these extraordinary circumstances. Ofqual has confirmed that the submission deadline will not be before 29 May 2020.

 

We will make sure that you have a place at College next year if that is your plan. But we must ask you to keep up to date with all your studies wherever possible so you don’t fall behind with the course as you start next year.

 

We would also take the opportunity to advise anyone planning to go to University next Summer that we will make sure your grades are fair and reflect your learning accurately. You may also be contacted by Universities giving unconditional offers and we would warn against accepting these immediately as it may be best for you to look more widely at a range of Universities to meet your needs most fully. 

 

We would also like to highlight for you some further support materials and resources for you that our Student Services team have developed. They’ve created a special 30-day wellbeing task planner that you may wish to use to support you and keep you well. It’s attached.

 

We wish you the best of health and urge you again to look after yourselves with great care.

 

Peter Mayhew-Smith

Group Principal and CEO

Coronavirus update 17th April 2020.pdf

30 Day Wellbeing Tasks

 

3rd April 2020

Dear students and families,

 

Thank you for bearing with us as we’ve tried hard to manage learning through the enforced closure of our Colleges.

 

Most of all, we all hope you’re well and handling this enormous challenge successfully. Take good care of yourselves and follow the Government’s guidance on social distancing and hygiene very carefully.

 

It has been demanding for all of us and I hope very much you’re getting support, help, resources and opportunities to participate in learning. We’ve tried hard to make all these things happen for as many students as possible, but, in some areas, it has been more challenging.

 

Today the Government and Ofqual announced its approach to parts of the curriculum, especially A Levels and GCSEs. Some of you will be studying for these, especially English and Maths GCSEs. The approach for vocational qualifications and Functional Skills will be set out soon and we’ll share that all with you when we have it.

 

If you want to look at the material from Government and Ofqual, it is available for you and there is a letter from the Secretary of State too: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/gcses-as-and-a-level-awarding-summer-2020

 

This means that grades will be based on a number of different factors and we strongly encourage everyone to keep engaging with their learning in order that you can achieve the best grades possible.

 

We will continue to work hard to make sure you are successful and hope very much that you will take responsibility for your success too.

 

We will keep sharing information as it develops and your teaching teams will set out their approach to grading shortly after Easter.

 

Please take good care and we look forward to seeing you again soon,

 

Peter Mayhew-Smith

 

Group Principal and CEO

Coronavirus update 3rd April 2020.pdf

 

27 March 2020

Dear students and families

 

We are now reaching the end of our first week of College closure and are very sad that we’re not in our buildings, mixing together and working closely with each other.

 

But learning has continued and so many of you have adapted well to these strange times. Thank you very much for taking the opportunity and turning a tough situation to the good. We’re trying to share good news stories and positive messages across our websites and social media to help us all feel connected.

 

We will continue to run learning into next week, but parts of our curriculum will take an Easter break and then be ready to get going again after that. Your teachers will tell you how this will work and what you need to do.

 

We can confirm that for all FE students, exams are cancelled and new arrangements are being put in place for assessing coursework. For HE students, assessment formats may change, but are likely to continue in some form. We’ve written separately to you with more detail. The latest guidance on GCSEs and other public exams from the Government is available here:

coronavirus-covid-19-cancellation-of-gcses-as- and-a-levels-in-2020

If you’re struggling with the challenge, though, we do have some resources to help support you and give you the strength to carry on. This site has some useful ideas and links to other sources of support:

how-to-look-after-your-family-s-mental-health-when-you-re- stuck-indoors

 

I can’t say how long this will go on for. We have to be ready for a sustained period of closure though, probably months. It’ll be tough, but we’re not going to give up and we will get through this alongside you.

 

Please continue to be very self-disciplined and rigorous about your hygiene and social distancing, isolating yourself if you need to.

 

We all wish you well and hope you’ll take very good care of yourselves,

 

Peter Mayhew-Smith

 

Group Principal and CEO

Coronavirus update 27 March 2020.pdf

 

23rd March 2020

Dear students and families,

 

As you know, our College buildings are now closed. For a very small number of specific students we have opened Merton College in response to the Government’s request. The Government’s approach to this and who the students are that we will admit to Merton College is set out here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/closure-of-educational-settings-information-forparents-and-carers/closure-of-educational-settings-information-for-parents-and-carers

 

We hope that most of our students will be able to continue their studies from home and our teachers and support teams are working very hard to provide you with online information, resources and/or work if they can.

 

We would very much like you to continue to study hard. The Government has cancelled all exams and other kinds of assessment. The Government is working with the exam boards to come up with alternative arrangements and as soon as we have the full details of these we will let you know. For HE students, the different Universities are making plans to manage the situation and your course teams will be able to update you.

 

We are also keen to do anything if we can to help keep you safe and sound through this time. If you have concerns about your welfare please refer to your College’s Moodle site which will tell you about the support services available. It will also tell you what to do if you need help. If you are not sure how to access these services talk to your friends, family and carers in the first instance. If you are still not sure after this please try to contact your tutor and they will be able to refer you to the right place to get help if they can, or you can contact Student Support via one of the relevant College site email addresses:

 

Carshalton & Merton College - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
South Thames College - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Kingston CollegeThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

You will know that we have been asked to close our colleges to save lives. You must take your responsibilities very seriously and stay at home unless you have to shop, work or seek medical help. Please do not ignore this advice; we will only beat this disease by being very strict about our behaviour and working together to stay apart. 

 

Please stay safe and take good care of yourselves,

 

Peter Mayhew-Smith

 

Group Principal and CEO

 

Coronavirus update 23rd March 2020.pdf

 

19th March 2020

Dear students and families

 

Our Colleges will be closed for most of our students at the end of the day on Friday 20th March for the foreseeable future.

 

We will be providing care only for the children of key workers and vulnerable students and are working on a plan for how best to do this right now. Further details will follow. If you fall into this category, we are very keen to know if you want to come to College over this period ahead and would be pleased if you could let us know through This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

We know this has been a difficult time for everyone and thank you very much for your patience with us while we’ve worked hard to manage events as they have unfolded.

 

For most courses, there will be on-line learning set up and made available to you. Your tutor will contact you and give you access to the materials that have been put in place.

 

We expect you to continue to participate in learning and will keep your course active as best we can over the coming weeks.

 

We are also setting up on-line safeguarding arrangements, which we will send out shortly.

 

We will stay in touch with you throughout this time and look forward to starting our Colleges up again soon. Please do not worry about securing a place at College for next year. We will protect your learning and make sure you have a place ready for you if you wish to stay with us. Whatever happens, we will make sure you have a chance to progress successfully.

 

We wish you all the very best of health; please take care, follow the Government’s advice closely. It is set out through this link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/coronavirus-covid-19-uk-government-response

 

We hope to see you very soon!

 

Best wishes,

 

Peter Mayhew-Smith

 

Group Principal and CEO

 

Coronavirus update 19th March 2020.pdf

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