- Covid-19 Update for Parents and Carers (2 November 2020)
+ Click here to read the update for parents and carers
Dear parents and carers,
I hope you are well and managed to have a break over the half term.
While I am glad that our students have had the opportunity to stop and take a breath after a very busy half term, the news over the weekend will understandably set the agenda for many of our conversations over the coming weeks.
As you will be aware, the national lockdown will start on Thursday and is expected to last a month. While for many people this will mean a return to being furloughed and home working; schools, colleges and universities are going to continue to educate people face-to-face.
This decision to keep our educational establishments open is one that I suspect will cause a great deal of debate and discussion. That is something that we let other people lead on. We are simply focused on the areas that we can control and take ownership of – namely keeping our community safe and giving our students the best possible learning experience.
That being said, we also know that many of our staff and students have their own health issues and family worries. Saturday’s news will weigh heavily on them and I wanted to write to provide some reassurance.
Given our experiences of the last lockdown, I expect there to be a raft of documents, guidance and clarifications coming from the Department for Education over the next few days. We will review all of these closely and keep you informed of what this means for us.
As critical as following guidance and health safety measures are, however, I just want to reiterate that if you or your child have any concerns or worries, then please do speak to their tutors in the first instance. The Government has made it clear that they expect us to stay open to provide face-to-face education, and we respect that. We can, however, work with you to put into place as much support as possible on an individual level as and when required.
I would also like to offer you the reassurance that over the last half-term there was no evidence to suggest that the virus had been spread within our college. This is largely down to the impressive efforts of our staff and students.
The issue we faced, and highlighted by our track and trace system, was community transmission. My hope is, therefore, that if we continue to do what we are doing, and the national lockdown works, our communities will be safer this half-term.
So please keep communicating, like always, we will work through this systematically and together. While the mechanics have changed since the last lockdown, the importance of what we do has never been more vital. I am immensely proud to be part of this community.
Dr Nikos Savvas
Principal, Sixth Form Provision
Your support could be a vital component in your child’s success at college.
Coming to West Suffolk College is not like going to school. While there is a lot of support for students, it’s a quite different environment. Students here learn to take a great deal more responsibility for their work, for their time and their progress. It is a much freer social environment too, much like university. The contrast is refreshing but also challenging.
Most students adapt well, relishing the chance to be treated like independent people. But the students who do best are those whose parents are involved, providing support at home and taking an active interest in their progress.
We recognise the important role that parents have in their child’s career development. The College has a programme of events to allow students and their parents the opportunity to explore a variety of progression options including Open Events, Progression Evenings, Apprenticeship and Job Fairs, and Open Events.
As a college we are committed to involving you as much as possible. Experience shows that when parents are involved, students have a greater chance of success.
Important ways you can help are summarised here, but more detail is available in the Parents’ Handbook
Attending events for parents and student productions
Induction – Ask any questions, see how the college supports students and meet your child’s personal tutor.
Consultation Evenings – Every course has opportunities for you to monitor progress, reviewing the academic year to date and discussing student reports.
Course Events – Many courses have shows, exhibitions and celebrations of various kinds. Each is a rewarding opportunity to enjoy the work that students produce.
Meet your child’s personal tutor
Personal tutors have a crucial role for students, providing a stable point of contact throughout their time at college. Your child’s personal tutor will also be your main point of contact when communicating with the College.
Personal tutors are responsible for tracking academic progress, and providing general support when needed. Each personal tutor will help their students understand the support available in College, including careers and welfare advice.
Learners will have tutorial appointments at regular intervals to allow structured discussion and target setting. Learners are encouraged to make additional appointments as and when they need them, to discuss issues as they arise.
How to make contact
You will have a chance to meet your child’s personal tutor at the parents' induction evening held at the start of the course. Please feel free to contact the personal tutor at any time.
Get to know who’s who at the College
It is useful to understand how different staff play a part in college life. The Parents’ Handbook explains them in more detail but these are the key ones:
Course team – Students are generally taught by several members of staff. At the start of the course each student will be given a timetable showing all of the course teaching team. You will also receive a copy of the timetable.
Course Director – responsible for the day to day management of the course. They work in conjunction with personal tutors to ensure the students achieve their full potential on whatever course they are studying.
Other ways you can help
Support at home
Taking an interest and helping with work and research is important. It is also advisable to provide an area where your child/children can work quietly.
Many learners hold part-time jobs outside college hours, but it’s important to guard against it affecting their studies, or performance is likely to suffer. We recommend that students should do no more than 10 hours per week paid or voluntary work.
You may also need to help them directly with buying the required materials or tools for their course. If financial resources are limited there are schemes that may help you.
Time management support
Supporting your child through his/her studies is a wide subject, but a key thing to remember is that the more you orient your lives around their success the better. That includes making time when it’s needed but equally not taking up time unnecessarily. However tempting, please try to avoid holidays during college terms.