Lockdown: How government wants FE to remain open

Students and staff should wear face masks in communal areas and adult education should consider moving online, says DfE
4th November 2020, 4:56pm

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Lockdown: How government wants FE to remain open

https://www.tes.com/magazine/archive/lockdown-how-government-wants-fe-remain-open
Coronavirus: Lockdown Guidance For Colleges

The government has published guidance for colleges and other FE providers during England's coronavirus lockdown, which starts tomorrow.

It says colleges should remain open to on-site delivery for the duration of the national restrictions - however, adult education providers should "consider moving to online teaching where possible to do so while still achieving educational objectives".

The Department for Education's guidance states that students and staff in all colleges should wear face coverings when moving around college premises, outside of classrooms, in corridors and communal areas where social distancing cannot easily be maintained. Face coverings should also be worn when travelling on public transport or dedicated college transport.


Coronavirus: Keeping colleges open 'gambles with the nation's health'

More: Ofsted moves controversial school visits online

Background: Who needs to wear face coverings in FE - and when?


Exams, which take place in colleges this week, should continue, and the "exam support service will help colleges manage this process", says the DfE.

Coronavirus: Lockdown guidance for colleges

"The prime minister and education secretary have been clear that exams will go ahead next summer, as they are the fairest and most accurate way to measure a pupil's attainment. We therefore need to keep schools and colleges open so that children are able to keep progressing towards exams and the next stage of education or employment," today's guidance adds.

Providers should continue to seek to deliver the majority of education on-site for 16 to 19 study programmes, "unless they have had written public health advice to move some groups to remote teaching, in which case they should inform their ESFA [Education and Skills Funding Agency] territorial team".

"If there are operational constraints which necessitate a greater proportion of online teaching, providers should discuss this with their ESFA territorial team directly or email FED.COVIDCENTRAL@education.gov.uk, ahead of any announcement. Providers should preserve provision on site for learners who need it, including vulnerable learners, children of key workers and learners without access to devices/connectivity at home."

For adult education, the DfE is asking providers to "consider moving to online teaching where possible to do so while still achieving educational objectives, using existing flexibilities within the FE operational guidance". "Where education needs to continue on-site to enable access to equipment, or where students cannot access remote delivery, this can continue in a Covid-secure way," the guidance adds.

 

David Hughes, chief executive of the Association of Colleges, said: "This guidance will be carefully considered by college leaders as they make their plans for the second lockdown. It's clear that for young people, the government is still expecting at least 50 per cent face to face teaching, but recognises that in some cases Public Health England advice or local circumstances will require more online than that.

"It is also helpful in recognising that it is college leaders who make the decisions whilst informing ESFA as soon as possible. This should give college leaders the confidence that they are being trusted to make complex judgements and decisions that are best for their students and staff. We will continue to work closely with DfE to communicate the issues that colleges are facing, including the additional costs of being Covid compliant whilst remaining open as well as the impact moving more adult learning online will have on recruitment and retention."

What else does the guidance say?

  • Residential providers should support students to reduce travel between home and educational accommodation unless absolutely necessary, and in particular residential students on adult programmes should remain in their educational accommodation if possible and not move between home and educational accommodation during term time, in line with the approach for universities. "Where students normally travel between their FE education setting and home during term time for the purpose of education, this is allowed."
  • Public-facing facilities that are used for the purposes of training, for example hair salons, restaurants and gyms, should no longer be open to members of the general public from 5 November in line with the closure of these businesses in the wider community.
  • Apprenticeships and other training in the workplace will continue where those sectors remain open.
  • Sport and physical education, as part of education and training, can continue. Outdoor sports should be prioritised where possible. Competition between different colleges should not take place, in line with the wider restrictions on grassroots sport.
  • Travel in or out of your local area should be avoided.
  • According to the DfE, the evidence shows that there is a very low risk of becoming very unwell from the coronavirus, "even for young people with existing health conditions". Young people whose doctors have confirmed that they are still clinically extremely vulnerable are advised not to attend education whilst the national restrictions are in place. "Further education colleges will need to make appropriate arrangements to enable them to continue their education at home."
  • Young people who live with someone who is clinically extremely vulnerable, but who are not clinically extremely vulnerable themselves, should still attend education, says the DfE.
  • Students who are over 18 who receive a letter confirming that they are still clinically extremely vulnerable are advised not to attend education whilst the national restrictions are in place.  Staff who are clinically extremely vulnerable are advised to work from home and not to go into work.
  • Staff and children who are clinically vulnerable or have underlying health conditions, but are not clinically extremely vulnerable, may continue to attend education in line with current guidance.

 


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