As you know, we are closed to students from Friday 3rd July. Normally we would have had an end of year celebration and been able to say our goodbyes properly to you. As staff we have found it very difficult not to be able to have any closure with you.
We appreciate that this has been a strange time and as a college we are so proud of the strength you have shown and how you have managed since the end of March. During the summer is when most of us will be taking a break, therefore after Friday we will not be available on Teams to answer your messages.
If you have a real concern that you do not feel safe, call 101.
Our college safeguarding phones will be accessed during the summer, 9am - 4.30pm if you need to speak to someone.
Abingdon: 01235 216228
Witney: 01993 208500
Or email email@example.com if you don’t want to call.
We know that you may still want someone to talk to and have added some support line that are well used and recommended by other students and attached is a little card that identifies a number of techniques and national support lines.
It’s normal to feel a bit worried, scared or helpless about the current situation. Remember it is OK to share your concerns with others you trust and doing so may help them too.
If you cannot speak to someone you know or doing so has not helped, there are helplines you can try instead.
Childline: Phone 0800 1111 for Childline for children (24-hour helpline)
24/7 Mental Health Helpline for Buckinghamshire & Oxfordshire | Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust:
Adults: 0800 783 0119 or 01865 904 997 | Children and young people: 0800 783 0121 or 01865 904 998
Oxford Safe Haven: For if you experience a mental health crisis at the weekend. They offer crisis support Friday-Monday, 6pm - 10pm and can be reached on 01865 903037.
Samaritans: Confidential support for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair.
Phone: 116 123 (free 24-hour helpline) or www.samaritans.org.uk
The Mix: The crisis messenger text service provides free 24/7 crisis support across the UK. If you’re aged 25 or under, and are experiencing any painful emotion or are in crisis, you can text THEMIX to 85258 or find out more at www.themix.org.uk or phone 0808 808 4994.
We do not currently have our usual level of telephone support, so please do enrol online wherever possible. Should you have any problem with this, please email us and we will be in touch - firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you want to speak to us, our enquiries line is open each Tuesday and Thursday, 10:00-15:00 (from 4th June) - 01235 216 400.
The most recent advice from the government to stay at home if at all possible means that we have now closed all of our college buildings to staff and students.
Parent/guardian/carer? See our Coronavirus: Information for Parents page.
The vast majority of our staff are already working from home and the college continues to operate as normally as possible through remote and virtual means. Where possible, students are being taught online and business support functions are fully operational.
We are asking students to follow the latest public health advice for self-isolation.
It is very important that you continue to report your absence to college in the normal way, so that we can monitor the situation and ensure the wellbeing of all students.
Work placements and work experience will not take place until further notice. The College will make contact with relevant employers to inform them.
We are already very well set up to continue teaching remotely and we will use Teams, the Hub and Yammer to ensure that, where at all possible, teaching can still go ahead, and that tutors and students can still communicate.
We will try to follow normal college teaching timetables as far as possible and we ask that students are prepared to support each other remotely and share materials where possible. For example if one student is struggling to access a document, others will help out and share it via another method. During Teams video sessions our staff will use their cameras, however we ask that students do not turn their cameras on during these sessions to ensure privacy is respected and safety maintained.
We understand that some students may not have access to technology to enable access to teaching sessions and we are working to ensure that we can provide our most vulnerable students with a suitable solution.
We understand that there may be challenges with some of these processes, and even the most up to date technology can sometimes let us down, however our aim in everything we do is to minimise the disruption to all students’ learning at this challenging time.
We were asked by the government to support our most vulnerable students (including those of key workers) to attend college. We have consulted on an individual basis with these students and their parents/ carers and we have all now agreed that it is in the best interests of these students to stay at home. We will be providing a variety of support for these students by email, online and by phone instead.
We will review the need for this support with those involved from Wednesday 15th April 2020. Depending on government advice at that time, we will considering opening to vulnerable students from Monday 20th April. Any students or parents/ carers that need support whilst the buildings are closed can email email@example.com, or call 01235 555585 and leave a voicemail message.
Apprentices should follow the guidance of their employer in relation to their attendance at work. We will carry out assessments and progress reviews on the phone, or using technology such as Skype. Your Training Co-ordinator will be in touch with you to discuss this.
For adult courses, we are teaching as many courses as we can online. Courses that had already started when the college buildings were closed have been suspended and catch up sessions will be arranged when the college re opens. Courses that were due to start in April are either being delivered online, or have unfortunately been cancelled, with learners being refunded by end of April. The college will be in touch with people who had enrolled on these courses as soon as possible.
Following the latest government advice about international travel, any trips planned in the next 30 days will not be taking place. Please bear with us during this time as we work with our travel providers to work through the details of this – we recognise that many parents and students will be anxious about this, but we need time to work with our tour operators and resolve the details. We will, of course, continue to monitor the government and FCO advice around travel.
We have also reviewed our plans for UK based trips, and for at least the next 30 days these will not take place. We will review this situation regularly as things develop.
The Government has advised that external exams will not take place in the Summer and is working with qualification awarding organisations on what this means in practice. We will provide updates on guidance for specific qualifications are soon as we know.
The college's Admissions team will be in direct contact with all students due to have an interview at the college in the near future with more information.
For students we will use Teams, Yammer and the Hub for communications. For parents, information will be available on the website and via the college social media channels.
We know that this is an anxious time for many, and we want to make sure that everyone can access the support and welfare that they need. Our Student Support and Safeguarding services will remain open and accessible remotely via online mechanisms and by telephone during normal college opening hours.
Bursary payments will continue as normal, and we will take steps to ensure that students in receipt of Free College Meals will continue to have access to a free meal, however this is likely to be via payments instead of our usual voucher system.
In the current circumstances, we want to highlight a route that your children can access during this current situation whilst they are not attending school.
Childline are there to listen and support you with anything you’d like to talk about.
Witney-based filmmaker and Gateway student at the College, Mollie Leivars, has made a short film from home about the effect that COVID-19 can have on the mental health of young people, whilst showing that we are not alone in our feelings about the situation and we all stand together in this fight against the virus.