Updated COVID guidance 02.09.2021
Since 19 July 2021, most of the laws that were in place to stop the spread of COVID-19 have ended and there is new guidance in place about self-isolation.
It is important to stress that Coronavirus hasn’t gone away – you can still catch it and spread it – so there will still be a need for staff, students and visitors to follow basic measures to avoid the spread of the virus.
Please take time to read the COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). The document gives details about how COVID-19 will be managed in college. It includes essential information and answers to frequently asked questions.
PLEASE NOTE: This information reflects our current plans which, of course, could change if there is a change in the government’s advice or advice from the local public health team. We will give as much notice as possible of any changes.
Whether students are in college or learning remotely from home, the timetable will remain the same; this means the same groups, the same teachers and the same times. The rooms will be the same when students are in college for face-to-face lessons.
Remote learning sessions will be delivered using a combination of live lessons (Google Meet) and other remote learning such as videos and tasks set using Google Classroom. The remote lessons will follow the normal timetable. Students should be ready to begin online learning at the time their lesson usually starts. Teachers will send a Google Classroom message explaining exactly what students should be doing. Whatever the method, we will endeavour, as far as is possible to mirror the effective practice that takes place in face-to-face education. For example, providing frequent, clear explanations of new content, delivery by a teacher or through high-quality curriculum resources, providing opportunities for interactivity and intentional dialogue, including questioning, eliciting and reflective discussion and enabling students to receive timely and frequent feedback on how to progress.
During remote learning, students will continue to be assessed regularly on their work and given feedback on their progress that helps them improve. Teachers will share assessment information with their classes. It is important to note that assessment of practical subjects is more challenging remotely; we will provide the students with the best experience possible in a remote learning situation. This varies from subject to subject, so for information on specific courses, please contact the individual teacher. NB: This refers to ongoing assessment as part of day-to-day learning and NOT to any “teacher assessment” that may replace examinations at the end of a student’s course.
College staff will:
- provide students with clarity on the arrangements for how remote education will be delivered, timetabling, the use of a virtual learning environment (that allows interaction, assessment and feedback)
- teach planned and well sequenced remote education to give students the best chance to build their knowledge and skills
- confirm with students the different ways in which they will receive assessment and feedback and provide students with individual assessment and feedback to support progress
- maintain regular communication with vulnerable young people to ensure that they are safe and are accessing remote education
- take account of home learning environments and the support that students may need to engage and learn remotely and safely
- be sensitive to the wellbeing of students when they are learning remotely
- have systems in place to check, at least weekly, for persistent non-attendance or lack of engagement with remote education and to quickly agree ways in which attendance and participation can be improved
- ensure both staff and students are trained and confident in their use of digital platforms
- set clear expectations of students concerning their participation in remote education, so they know when and how they are expected to engage and demonstrate their learning
Expectations of students
- maintain regular contact with their teachers and pastoral mentor using the college systems such as email and Google Classroom
- check their email and Google Classroom regularly (as a minimum twice per week) – students are responsible for checking their emails and Google Classroom as this is where key messages will be shared
- “arrive” (virtually) on time to lessons
- complete the work set to a high standard
- demonstrate respectful conduct in all online learning
Please also see the following links to some important documents:
Arrangements for students studying courses that require specialist equipment or facilities
In the vast majority of cases, students studying courses that require specialist equipment or facilities have the relevant software on their device. Students studying these subjects also have access to specialist equipment or facilities on site wherever possible, however, when remote education is the only option, the subject departments provide the very best next alternative. For information on specific courses, please contact the individual teacher.
Support for students without devices, connectivity or a suitable environment for learning
Blackpool Sixth operates a “Bring Your Own Device” scheme so all students have a device that they can use in the physical or virtual classroom. Any student who is struggling to pay for the costs of a device can apply for support, or access a loan device, through the college bursary scheme or the access fund. Please see the financial support section of the college website for more information about the bursary and the online application process
There will be provision in college for students who have a problem accessing remote learning from home, including connectivity issues. Students should speak with their pastoral mentor if they are in this position.
Support for students with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND)
We recognise that some students, for example some students with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), may not be able to access remote education without support and we work with students and their parents/carers to support those students in the following ways:
- An assigned key support worker to support students (in addition to their pastoral mentor).
- Attendance and engagement will be monitored daily using EMRIS and absences followed up in a timely manner.
- At least weekly, the key support workers make contact with their students to check on progress and provide support and guidance. This may be via email, phone or Gmeet.
- Key support workers will liaise with parents/carers, offering advice as required.
- Students with EHCPs will be able to access face-to-face support in college. They will be supported by a key support worker, as required, whilst they are in college.
- Some students with an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) or with more complex needs will have additional ‘in-class’ and support within their ‘live’ video lessons, this allows the student to receive additional help during the ‘live’ lesson.
- Out-of-class additional support sessions will be provided to students, as required, in the form of GMeets and/or telephone calls, this supports students to consolidate their learning and/or further develop their skills.
- Some students e.g. those with EHCPs and more complex needs, will receive face-to-face support in college, depending on their need.
- Staff at college will work with the local authority to ensure that annual reviews of students with EHCPs continue to be provided via GMeet.
- Prospective students (applicants) who disclosed a learning need will be allocated a key support worker. The key support worker will make contact with the student via phone or email to discuss their individual needs and the support that can be provided. Transition meetings will be held via GMeet for applicants with more complex needs to agree a transition plan.
Gail Yeadon, Deputy Principal
(The Deputy Principal is the senior leader with overarching responsibility for the quality and delivery of remote education)
We have now published our centre policy for summer 2021 for A levels, vocational qualifications and GCSEs which has recently been approved by our designated awarding body. You can read it here.
Ofqual has released a “student guide to awarding summer 2021”, which can be found here. The booklet covers a range of topics, for example, timelines, how teacher-assessed grades are determined, quality assurance and appeals. Whilst we don’t anticipate many appeals due to the transparent and rigorous approach we have taken, we will share with you our appeals process in the near future. There is a web-friendly version the guide which you can access here.
The government has announced that the summer exams will not go ahead as planned and will be replaced with teacher-assessed grades (TAGs) instead. Now that we have received guidance from the Department for Education, Ofqual, the Joint Council for Qualifications and from some of the exam boards we can clarify what this means for our students. Upper sixth students, Route3 students and any student who is sitting their GCSE English or GCSE Maths with us will receive a letter explaining this in more detail, so please ensure you read this carefully.
The FAQs: summer results 2021 document explains what this means for our students and should give answers to any questions you may have about how the grades are going to be determined.
The graphics below explain also cover the key details for different types of qualification:
We recognise this is an anxious time for students and we will do everything we can to support the students at college both now and on/after results days. We have counselling, academic support, pastoral support, careers guidance and much more. A student’s pastoral mentor can help signpost them to the best source of support. It may also be useful to read this blog by Professor Kevin Woods and psychologists at Manchester University.
Vocational assessment announcement
Ofqual has published their “Alternative arrangements for the award of VTQs and other general qualifications in 2021 – Approach to awarding qualifications where exams do not take place”. We are currently reviewing this information in detail and we will keep you informed when we have further information about what this means for our students at Blackpool Sixth.
GCSE and A Level assessment announcement
Today (25th February 2021), Ofqual has published their “Decisions on how GCSE, AS and A level grades will be determined in summer 2021”. We are currently reviewing this information in detail and we will keep you informed when we have further information about what this means for our students at Blackpool Sixth.
Further update on vocational exams 07.01.21
**UPDATE FROM awarding bodies, OCR AND LIBF
OCR – Cambridge Nationals (CTEC engineering and applied science):
Our priority is to ensure students are not disadvantaged. If students do not take our exams this January, there are options:
There may be an opportunity to take their assessment at a future date. If this is not possible due to arrangements still to be announced for this summer, we’ll work with the DfE and Ofqual to make sure they are treated fairly.
LIBF – Level 3 Finance Studies
Learners who do not sit exams in January will not be disadvantaged and may be able to resit the paper in July. Should this not be possible, we will put in place alternative arrangements for your learners to ensure that they are not disadvantaged.
Update concerning exams: 06.01.21
IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT – External/exams assessments
In the light of the Secretary of State’s announcement yesterday evening whereby colleges have been given the authority to make the decision whether or not to run external exams/assessments due to take place in January and February, Blackpool Sixth has decided to cancel all exams from 7 January 2021.
We have made this decision considering the increasing rates of positive cases locally, the safety and wellbeing of both the college and our wider community alongside the updated statement from the government last night. Furthermore, we have had reassurance from the main awarding body, Pearson, this morning, which states:
- “We will certificate any learner who is unable to take their exams and has enough evidence to receive a certificate that they need for progression.
- Learners unable to take their assessment this January may be able to take their assessment at a later date. If that is not possible, we will put in place arrangements to ensure no learner is disadvantaged.”
Whilst we are not yet clear what the alternative assessment methods and arrangements are we are confident that this is the right decision for the college and we will keep you informed about this as more information is shared nationally.
For your information, many other local colleges have taken the same decision.
If you have a concern about the wellbeing and safety of any Blackpool Sixth student, please see here for details of what to do.
IMPORTANT: Covid-19 Testing Autumn Term 2021
Testing is a vital tool in reducing the risk of transmission of Covid-19 and keeping our students, staff and the wider community safe. Students will have potentially mixed with lots of other people during the summer holidays and, therefore, in line with the latest government guidance, all students are expected to complete two tests at college, 3 to 5 days apart before the start of the Autumn term.
For lower sixth and Route3 students:
- Test 1 will take place on Thursday 2nd September, followed by test 2 on Monday 6th September.
For upper sixth students:
- Test 1 will take place on Tuesday 7th September, followed by test 2 on Friday 10th September.
On all testing days, booking slots for testing will be 30 minutes in length and will take place between 9.00 am and 3:45 pm.
Before booking please read the terms of consent and the privacy notice, available below.
Please book a slot for both test 1 and test 2. To book both Covid-19 tests click the link below and follow the booking process. On the first page you will be asked to complete two sections, ‘your details’ and ‘student’s details’. For the purpose of booking ‘your details’ refers to the details of a parent/carer.
Booking link: https://blackpoolsixth.schoolcloud.co.uk/
Please be aware that by completing booking you are providing consent to take part in Covid-19 testing at college.
The leaflet linked here provides further details of Covid-19 testing process in college.
Terms of consent
By completing a booking for Covid-19 testing at college:
- I consent to having a nose and throat swab for lateral flow tests. I will self-swab if I am able to, otherwise I understand that assistance is available.
- I understand that there may be multiple tests required and this consent covers all tests for the named person. If, on the day of testing I do not wish to take part, then I understand I will not be made to do so and that consent can be withdrawn at any time ahead of the test.
- I consent that my sample(s) will be tested for the presence of COVID-19.
- I understand that if my result(s) are negative on the lateral flow test I will not be contacted by the college except where I am/they are a close contact of a confirmed positive.
- If the lateral flow test indicates the presence of COVID-19, I consent to having a nose and throat swab for confirmatory PCR testing. I will follow the instructions on the PCR Kit to return the test the same day to an NHS Test & Trace laboratory.
- If the lateral flow test indicates the presence of COVID-19, I commit to ensuring that I leave college premises as promptly as possible, bearing in mind I may have some anxiety following a positive test result.
- I consent that I will need to self-isolate following a positive lateral flow test result, until the results of the confirmatory PCR have been received.
- I agree that if my test results are confirmed to be positive from this PCR test, I will report this to the college and I understand that I will be required to self-isolate following public health advice.
Please click this link to access the college’s privacy notice regarding Covid-19 testing in college.
Frequently Asked Questions
Please click here for answers to frequently asked questions about the college’s arrangements in response to the Coronavirus situation.