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Supporting learners to succeed during the pandemic

It’s been a challenging year for all of us, including those working in education. With Further Education colleges closed during lockdown and intermittently afterwards due to coronavirus cases in some classrooms, educators have needed to manage these disruptions to ensure that their learners don’t miss out on vital learning.

Fareham College currently delivers a range of CACHE qualifications from Level 1 to 4 in Childcare, Education, Health and Social Care. They are also one of the first providers delivering the T Level Technical Qualification in Education and Childcare (Level 3) from September 2020.

Faculty Director of Health, Science and Education at Fareham College, Michelle Young, shares how they have overcome the challenges that they have faced in the past year, caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.  

Michelle said: “We have found it very tricky supporting our students to gain experience in the workplace. Encounters with employers are essential to learners developing their skills, knowledge, and behaviours ready for the workforce.

“The benefits to learners participating in these experiences is crucial to cement the knowledge they have gained in class and link the theory with the real world of work. Thankfully, employers that we work closely with have been very supportive, and with some timetable remodelling we’ve managed to ensure most students will get this experience at some point throughout the year.”

Supporting young people’s mental health

A topic that is high on education’s agenda is mental health, especially given the impact that the pandemic and the restrictions that go alongside this have had on the nation’s mental health. Fareham College has been proactive in their approach to support learners, providing additional services and strategies to help reduce anxiety and resolve issues as early as possible.

Michelle continued: “Since March we’ve noticed an increase in anxiety and poor mental health; both with staff and learners. Staff are adapting well to new ways of teaching, but they’ve had to learn new digital skills very quickly. They’ve also had to adapt to teaching in a dual way with some learners participating in classrooms while others are self-isolating at home.

“Learners have been nervous to attend college, placements and use public transport during the pandemic. Therefore, we’ve increased the support we provide in the college to encourage and provide them with strategies to support their worries and concerns.

Recognising the positives

“Although it must be said that the situation this year has had some positive aspects. For this academic year we have added online sessions to most learners’ timetables, utilising the digital skills both staff and learners gained during the pandemic. We had this in our development plans to improve digital skills across the college, but the pandemic has allowed us to accelerate this development.  These digital skills will also enable learners to be employment ready as they are essential workplace skills. The learners were very pleased we continued to teach virtual online live lessons.

Michelle added: “Throughout the pandemic, CACHE has provided us with clear information about any adaptions to qualifications in a timely manner and have kept us up to date through their website and emails. CACHE adapted the way they carried out external quality assurance at the end of the last academic year to ensure we were able to claim certificates when learners had completed and they gave detailed guidance on how to carry out CAG grades.

Receiving outstanding customer support

“This was completely essential during the recent COVID situation, where we knew that NCFE was on hand to help us ensure that our students got the qualifications they deserved.

“In addition, our learners do really, really well with CACHE qualifications. This particular academic year, 60% of Health and Social Care learners gained a grade B or above in their CACHE qualification, which is fantastic.”

For information on the approach we are taking to the adaptation of our qualification and assessment requirements to help mitigate risks associated with the coronavirus pandemic, visit our Covid-19 hub.

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