Remote education available for different learner cohorts
Following the Prime Minister’s announcement, like all schools and colleges throughout England, since 5 January South & City College Birmingham has moved to delivering remote learning for most of our students.
This includes a mixture of ‘live’ online teaching via Microsoft Teams / Google Classroom, prepared material that can be accessed via our virtual learning platform (Attain), various other platforms for specific student groups, learning packs and feedback on the work submitted. During induction in September, all learners were given a robust induction into the various platforms.
16–19-year-olds and adult learners
As many of our groups contain both 16–19-year-olds and adult students, the same approaches are used for these two cohorts. The approaches will vary across the college for different curriculum areas, to meet the needs of the learners.
Most lessons are being streamed live using Microsoft Teams / Google Classroom, according to the timetable, however, the structure and content of lessons will vary to meet students’ needs. In addition, many students use specific platforms that aid their learning, such as SeeSaw for supported learning, hairdressing, beauty therapy and catering groups, for example. Music, Media, Photography and Games Development students are using specialist platforms and software such as Maya, Stenyical, Adobe Creative Cloud, Unity, Sketch-Up and Logik. Fashion and Art & Design students use Padlet whilst Construction students use City and Guilds Smartscreen, which has various online resources and assessment packs as well as various instructional material via specialist YouTube channels. Many of our language learners will have access to the Flash Academy language app.
All materials can be accessed at any time and tutors are accessible throughout the working week via various platforms. This year we also launched our MyCollege app, which students have adopted very well during the lockdown, with over 4,500 users currently.
Learners in both South & City Academy and Alternative Provision are currently accessing their education in one of two ways. Learners who are deemed to be vulnerable or have parents who are critical workers are accessing provision on site. All other learners are remotely joining lessons through Microsoft Teams and Google Classroom. They are following their normal timetable throughout the week, therefore those learners on and off site will be attending the same live lessons. Supplementary material is being provided to complement lessons and we also provide additional work where requested. Informal pastoral support sessions are offered to those struggling during the lockdown.
All apprentices will continue to receive learning towards their studies and towards the 20% ‘off the job’ training via online platforms. Their assessor / tutor is in contact with them and their manager to ensure clarity about this. Any apprentices due to sit exams or assessments will be contacted to confirm when these will take place. Any apprentices who are furloughed are encouraged to continue their studies and engage with the college during this period.
Please see further guidance on apprentices on furlough for additional information.
Higher Education students
All higher education courses continue to be delivered online. Assessments and exams are still being held; they have already been adapted to ensure students are not disadvantaged. Information for specific courses is available on our virtual learning platform, Attain. Tutors keep in regular contact with students. Semester 2 starts with an online induction w/c 25 January for most courses. We also have some new students starting their courses this month, who are being contacted with induction details via email.
Supporting students with SEND
All students with additional support have access to teaching assistants during online lessons as they would onsite. TAs attend lessons and contact students individually to work with them on tasks assigned by the teachers.
Delivery is bespoke to each group depending on the subject studied and group size.
Timetabling has altered where necessary to accommodate learners’ individual needs, especially adults learners. All lessons are scheduled through the platforms that are being used eg Microsoft Teams calendar or Google Classroom calendar. Students are invited to sessions as per their normal timetable and tasks are adapted to consider resources accessible to students.
The various platforms also allow learners to have 1-1 meetings, work in small groups (breakout rooms) in Teams, have 'notice boards’ containing information like exam news, timetable changes etc. Our virtual learning environment contains videos of demonstrations, instructions, past exam papers, mock exam papers and more. Extra sessions have been set up for students in small groups or on an individual basis where necessary.
The learners submit their work which is assessed as previously wherever this is possible. Where it is necessary to hand in work such as portfolios, arrangements are in place to do this at the nearest campus to the students’ home address.
Expectations of students
Our expectation of the students is that they are able to access these resources and participate fully. It is expected all learners attend the lessons online as per timetable and invitations. Students are expected to engage with lessons via audio, chat and video. All students have been written to asking them to contact their tutor if they are having any difficulties.
Whilst we appreciate that during the lockdown some students may have family responsibilities during the day and therefore may choose to work in the evenings, we would not expect our staff to be available out of normal working hours.
Arrangements for students who require specialist equipment or facilities
Wherever possible, students on practical courses are encouraged to practice their skills at home using the equipment provided by the college (e.g. fashion, hairdressing, catering). Where this is not possible (e.g. engineering, construction), the focus of the course has moved to the theory aspects during lockdown, with a view of pursuing practical work once we can safely return to college. Additional ‘catch up’ sessions will be planned on learners’ return to our specialist workshops to enable them to practice and develop practical skills in order to complete their courses as early as possible.
Support for students without devices, connectivity or a suitable environment for learning
Many of our adult students, who struggle with accessing technology, are supported through printed work packs, which are mailed to them. In addition, we have conducted a survey to ascertain how many students do not have access to devices or a suitable learning environment. We are providing 400 laptops to students who are in need and opening our campuses on a limited basis to offer students safe access to our libraries where they can use computers.
Public Examinations and results
We are awaiting further guidelines from the government regarding guidance about teacher assessed grades for GCSE, A Level and any other exams. We will then adapt our assessment methods in line with Awarding Body guidance.
The College has in place a detailed risk assessment that applies to both learners and staff and is under constant review to ensure it complies with the latest government guidelines. Read the most up to date risk assessment