COVID-19 Updates

3rd June 2020

 

College Closure

Following the government announcement on the 18th of March 2020, Richard Taunton Sixth Form College closed to students and the public from 4pm on Friday the 20th of March 2020.

 

Following government guidance, we have now opened the site to allow face to face meetings for our FIRST YEAR STUDENTS only. Please see guidance below about how this will work.

As you are aware, the situation regarding COVID-19 (Coronavirus) changes on a regular basis. Richard Taunton will continue to monitor the local and national context very carefully and follow Public Health England and the Government’s advice.

Any updates regarding how this affects the college, our students, visitors  and any community users will be made here on the website. Parents and students will also be emailed directly.

Our social media channels: Twitter  Facebook  Instagram

Teaching and Learning
Exams
UCAS
Vulnerable students
Keyworker arrangements
College events and lettings
Applications to study – September 2020 starters
FAQs
Applicant FAQs
How you can help stop the spread of the virus
Looking after your well-being
Recent communications to students and parents


First Year students

One-to-one tutorials from Monday 22nd June

You should have been in regular contact with your teachers during lockdown, but we are now pleased to say that we will be opening the college for face to face meetings with your teachers from Monday 22 June.

This is a great opportunity to discuss how working from home has been going, talk about your plans for next year, and discuss work that teachers are setting over the summer. Please only come into college once and see all your teachers during this time. 

To see details about how to book your transition interview take a look at the email that we sent to students.

We have been working hard to make college safe for your return and you will notice some changes. It may take slightly longer than usual to enter the building so please bear this in mind when planning your arrival time.

We are very much looking forward to seeing you in college again. We appreciate that you may have some more questions, so if you do, please get in touch and we will answer them for you.

 

 

Teaching and Learning

As a college, we will continue to do all we can to support the education of our students. We expect students to fully engage with our online learning provision and the tasks set for them via Moodle and Google Classroom. Students should check their email regularly and ensure they have downloaded any required apps (e.g. Zoom). 

Plans are in place for students with no access to the required technology for online learning. If you do not have access to IT facilities at home, please make yourself known to Student Services studentservices@richardtaunton.ac.uk or by calling them on 02380 511811.


 

Exams

As you may already be aware, the Government announced that all summer exams have now been cancelled.

The exam regulator, Ofqual, and exam boards have now announced that they will be working with teachers to provide grades to students whose exams have been cancelled this summer, following our actions to slow the spread of coronavirus. All current details about how this might work can be found here.

 

Information sent to students and parents on 8th April regarding A Level and GCSEs Exam results

There has been a statement released by Ofqual regarding the awarding of grades for A Levels and GCSEs. I am today writing to you to set out our approach to this process. As I’m sure you’ll understand, the situation is extremely fluid and we are finding out information at the same time as the general public.

 
How final A level and GCSE grades be awarded

Before the end of May, teachers will be asked to predict what grade you would mostly likely have achieved if the summer series went ahead. They will be using evidence from work done throughout the course including class work, tests and mock exams. They will be using their best professional judgement to suggest a fair grade for you. They will also be asked to rank order all students within a grade for that subject. These will be submitted at some point during June when the exam boards will use other information about you (such as your performance in other public exams) to determine your final grade, which you should receive at some point in July.

We have been directed not to share predicted grades with students and parents. Please do not put staff in a difficult position by asking them.

 
Fairness of final grading

Teachers have been directed by government to NOT share predicted grades with students or parents. When the final grade is released, current plans suggest you will have the opportunity to sit an actual exam for that subject early in the Autumn term.

 
Other qualifications (BTEC, Cambridge Technicals, NCFE and Functional Skills)

Information regarding other qualifications (BTEC, Cambridge Technicals, NCFE and Functional Skills) is set to follow at an as yet unspecified date. I hope to able to update you further in the coming weeks.

 
What to do now

I am on the second year of A Levels
Your teachers will have given you revision materials, you should plan a revision schedule as if you were going to sit the exams in October/November 2020. Your class teachers will be available for support until May half term.

I am in the second year of a Level 3 BTEC/CTEC course
You should continue to do work as set by your teachers. It is still possible that these qualifications will expect you to provide evidence for all units.

I am on another programme (adults, GCSEs, Pre level 3 and Year one level 3)
You should continue to do the work set by your teachers. Examined courses should revise as if they are to sit the exam in October/November 2020. If you are on a vocational course that finishes next year, the exam boards are clear that there will be no changes to next year’s assessment processes so you must ensure that you keep as up to date as possible.

 
Appeals process

The guidance from Ofqual makes reference to an appeals process which is different to the normal appeals process however contains no detail on how this will work. We will write to you again to let you know further information once we have it. The full guidance for teachers, students and parents can be viewed at 

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/awarding-qualifications-in-summer-2020


 

University Applicants

UCAS have provided the college with the following information regarding the application process for university courses: 

The admissions timetable will run similarly to previous years, and we expect all students will be awarded a calculated grade for any exam they were entered for.

As we are aware this will start to trigger a lot of questions from students, we have published updates on ucas.com and will be emailing affected applicants to explain what this means for them. In the meantime, students should not rush into making any decisions, and should carefully consider any unconditional offers.

Once further information about the process of providing and calculating grades is announced, specific guidance for each qualification we be shared. Again, UCAS will endeavour to do everything possible to students as best as we can.

 

Extension of UCAS Undergraduate Decision Deadline

UCAs have extended May’s UCAS Undergraduate decision and reply deadlines following an announcement by the UK Government, asking universities and colleges in England to hold back from making unconditional offers or amending existing offers.

 

UCAs Have now confirmed the new dates:

  • If you received your last decision on or before 31 March 2020, your reply date is 18 June 2020.
  • If you receive your last decision on or before 20 May 2020, your reply date is 18 June 2020.
  • If you receive your last decision on or before 4 June 2020, your reply date is 18 June 2020 (except if you’re using Extra to find a place).
  • If you receive your last decision on or before 13 July 2020, your reply date is 20 July 2020 (including Extra choices)

 

These dates have been updated in Track, and they’ve emailed applicants to let them know if their deadlines have changed.

Since the UK Government’s announcement, the Office for Students (OfS) have shared further guidance and FAQs with universities and colleges in England to explain exactly what is covered in the two-week pause. In addition, the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) has written to vice-chancellors at Welsh universities and colleges, requesting that they also undertake a two-week pause on unconditional offers.

Please visit their website for the latest updates: http://bit.ly/UCASUPDATES

 

Student finance

 Important changes to student finance applications

If you have applied for university this year, or if you would like to apply for a place in 2021, you might be wondering how your student finance application and financial award may be affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

With this in mind, there has been some recent amendments to the financial assessment process that I would like to draw your attention to: www.gov.uk/guidance/guidance-for-prospective-students. This guidance has been issued for prospective students and includes a list of frequently asked questions which are regularly updated and may help answer your queries.

You might also want to keep an eye on the Student Finance England social media accounts where information is regularly updated:

Twitter: @SF_England
Facebook Page

IntoUniversity recently released a newsletter for year 13s ahead of the recommended 22nd May deadline. It also includes links to some handy resources.  A link to the newsletter is also here.


 

Vulnerable Students

Our student welfare team will be in regular contact with vulnerable students to provide support. If you think this applies to you and you haven’t heard from us, please contact studentservices@richardtaunton.ac.uk as soon as possible. If you have any concerns do not hesitate to let us know. We will be doing everything we can to support students whilst the college is closed.


 

Key Worker Arrangements

The government announced a list of the key worker categories.  If a parent/guardian considers themselves to be a key worker, then we may be able to support students by offering limited facilities at the college for them whilst we are closed. If this applies to you, and you’d like to know more, please contact studentservices@richardtaunton.ac.uk as soon as possible.

 

Government guidance is as follows:

If your work is critical to the COVID-19 response, or you work in one of the critical sectors listed below, and you cannot keep your child safe at home then your children will be prioritised for education provision:

Parents whose work is critical to the COVID-19 response include those who work in health and social care and in other key sectors outlined in the government’s guidance here

Many parents working in these sectors may be able to ensure their child is kept at home. And every child who can be safely cared for at home should be.

Please, therefore, follow these key principles:

  1. If it is at all possible for children to be at home, then they should be.
  2. If a child needs specialist support, is vulnerable or has a parent who is a critical worker, then educational provision will be available for them.
  3. Parents should not rely for childcare upon those who are advised to be in the stringent social distancing category such as grandparents, friends, or family members with underlying conditions.
  4. Parents should also do everything they can to ensure children are not mixing socially in a way which can continue to spread the virus. They should observe the same social distancing principles as adults.
  5. Residential special schools, boarding schools and special settings continue to care for children wherever possible.

 

College Events and Community Lettings

All lettings and college events are cancelled until further notice. The college will continue to provide updates regarding any college-run events that are postponed and/or cancelled via our college calendar. Community users are asked to contact their club/society/workshop leaders to check specific details regarding any cancellations and payments.


 

Applicants

We know that the cancellation of GCSE exams may be causing Year 11s some distress. Please be assured that we will be working closely with schools to ensure appropriate measures are in place to support September 2020 entry.  Take a look at the Applicant FAQs section below for more information.


 

FAQs

What do students do if they don’t have access to the internet or a computer/device to access online learning from home?

If students are unable to access online learning from home, for any reason, please contact Student Services.

 

What is the provision for those with EHCPs?

The college building will remain open for vulnerable students and those with EHCPs. Our Learning Support team will be contacting individual students and their parents/guardians to discuss bespoke support.

 

How do I contact the college during a closure?

Although the building itself will be closed, college departments will be available via email as usual. This is the most efficient way to contact staff during this closure.

For general enquiries please contact Student Services studentservices@richardtaunton.ac.uk or reception – email@richardtaunton.ac.uk. Calls to our main college number and student services will still be monitored and voicemails from these numbers can be accessed remotely. Please leave a voicemail if needed and we can get back to you as soon as we can.

For any course-related queries please contact teachers directly on their college email address.

 

What happens with those who receive guaranteed bursary or free school meals?

Those who receive guaranteed bursary will continue to be paid as usual. Free school meals for students will be replaced by a direct payment into their bank account so that they can continue to use this to purchase food. Please contact Student Services if you need to provide your bank details.

 

I haven’t been receiving the emails for parents, how do i update my contact details?

To update your contact details please contact the admissions team on admissions@richardtaunton.ac.uk 

 

I am having problems logging in to my email/moodle/google classroom. What do I need to do?

If students are having problems logging in, they should contact Student Services to let them know.

 

Where do I find the most recent announcements from the college?

Keep checking this page for updates! Following us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram is another great way to keep in the loop and means that you can continue to play an active part in our college community.


 

APPLICANT FAQs

All my GCSE exams have been cancelled! How will that affect my college enrolment?

We will be working closely with your school to help us choose the  level and type of course that will suit you best. This will include looking at the GCSE grades you are awarded and any other information your school gives us in terms of your progress. For some courses we may ask you to take an additional assessment to ensure we place you correctly. Don’t worry if you are feeling a little bit confused – we will make sure that you have all the advice and guidance you need for joining us at RTSFC. 

 

I was really looking forward to Freshers’ Day. Is it still happening? 

We love Freshers’ Day too! At present, it is unlikely there will be a Freshers’ Day event that you can attend in person. However, we are looking at ways to make sample lessons available online to give you a better idea of what to expect from college. When we have details of this, we will let you know.

 

I haven’t had my pre-enrolment interview yet. Will this still go ahead?

For the moment we have cancelled all face-to-face interviews and we hope to reschedule them for some time later in the summer term. 

We know that you might feel anxious about the delay of the interview, but please be assured this will not affect your application in any way. If you are happy to have your interview over the telephone, please let us know and we can try to arrange this. 

It may even be the case that we complete your enrolment in August without a pre-enrolment interview (this happens in some cases anyway) and this will not affect your choices or chances of enrolling onto a course. If this is the case, we may get in touch by phone to check your details and your choices.

 

What is the plan for enrolment in August? Will this still go ahead?

In July, we will send you an invitation to enrol at RTSFC. Enrolment will take place at the end of August as usual. We will look at how this event is run to allow for any government restrictions which may be in place at that time.Your enrolment may take place in person, or online.

 

How do I keep up to date with the latest information?

If you have any concerns about your application please do not hesitate to contact us on admissions@richardtaunton.ac.uk. We will continue to keep you in the loop regarding any re-arrangements that we have to make. You can also follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook if you want to take a sneak peek at what college life is like.


 

How you can help stop the spread of the virus

Guidance from the NHS on how to stop yourself contracting COVID-19 and spreading it to others can be found here

 
Self isolation and social distancing

Information from Public Health England regarding the current advice for self isolation can be found here.

The guidance on social distancing for everyone in the UK and protecting older people and vulnerable adults can be found here

Keeping yourself and the college community healthy and safe

If you are a student, staff member or visitor you should:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water more regularly – do this for at least 20 seconds
  • Use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
  • Put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards
  • Avoid close contact with people who have symptoms of coronavirus
  • Follow guidance regarding social distancing and self isolation

 

Looking After Your Well-Being

In these uncertain times it is important to look after your mental health. As well as support from our Welfare Team and Student Services team here at the college, there is a wealth of helpful things you can do to look after yourself. 

 

Accessing Support

If you are anxious about Coronavirus, or if social distancing and self-isolation is affecting your health and well being, it can sometimes help to talk it through with someone. You can contact our student welfare officers on studentservices@richardtaunton.ac.uk, or you can access support from some of the following charities:

Samaritans

https://www.samaritans.org/how-we-can-help/contact-samaritan/

Childline

https://www.childline.org.uk/

No limits

https://nolimitshelp.org.uk/

 

Young Minds

Young Minds have a wealth of advice and guidance about looking after your mental health, and some specific ones about how to cope during self isolation. Take a look at the following blog posts.

What to do if you are anxious about coronavirus

Looking after your mental health while self isolating

 

Think Ninja App

ThinkNinja –  a free App to support children and young people with their mental health and emotional wellbeing in this time of uncertainty

The Coronavirus pandemic brings with it a significant amount of uncertainty and is therefore likely to impact on children and young people in terms of their emotional wellbeing. Children and young people may be feeling more stressed, anxious, worried and low as they absorb and react to the evolving Coronavirus situation.

The Think Ninja App is available for all young people in Southampton who are aged from 11 – 17. Think Ninja is free and available to provide mental health and emotional wellbeing support in this time of uncertainty.

 

Think Ninja can help young people in the following ways:

  • Keeping calm when stress levels rise, by accessing the Skill Zone for breathing and distraction exercises
  • Helping to address unhelpful thoughts related to Coronavirus in the CBT skills section and My Challenges section
  • Boosting their mood with various PowerUps
  • Connecting via text chat with a ‘live’ Healios mental health professional, if required, all within the App

 

It is important to highlight that Think Ninja offers support only and should not be used as a replacement intervention for mental health input from NHS CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) or counselling services.

 

The App can be downloaded for free on all Android and Apple IOS smartphones and tablets through the App stores. Unfortunately Think Ninja is not available on laptops or PC’s as yet.  Once downloaded you will be asked to enter your postcode, and Think Ninja has already been populated with all Southampton postcodes.

 

For guidance and helpful materials on communicating with young people, for parents, health professionals and educators, and more information about how the Think Ninja app can support, visit https://www.healios.org.uk/think-ninja-assets.


 

Recent communications to students and parents

Student email – sent 15.06.20
Letter to parents – email sent 03.06.20
Final Year students – email sent 19.05.20 
1st year students – email sent 19.05.20
Letter to parents – email sent 19.05.20 
Letter to parents – email sent 27.4.20
Student and Parent email- sent 08.04.20
Letter to parents – email sent 30.3.20
Student email – email sent 26.03.20
Letter to parents – email sent 20.03.20