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Advice & Help Centre

We understand that with the amount of coverage in the media about Coronavirus, you may have some concerns. This page is kept regularly updated and designed to help you with clear information in relation to the College.

General updates

  • for Students, Parents and Carers (Friday 28 May 2021)

    Dear parents/carers,

    I hope you are well.

    Firstly, I just want to say what a fantastic half term it has been. While a great deal has been achieved by so many people, the real highlight is that we have had an extended period of relatively uninterrupted face-to-face education. It has been truly heartening to see our staff and students flourishing as they have been able to work in person again.

    This partnership has really come to the fore as the final preparations for the submission of the Teacher Assessed Grades have been completed. It has been a monumental effort by all those concerned, and I am sure that I speak for us all when I say a huge congratulations to our students, and also pass on our collective appreciation to the staff concerned.

    Reaching this milestone has given us further opportunity to look at our plans for the coming half term. June the 21st is a date marked in all our calendars as the date when, hopefully, all legal limits on social interaction will be removed.

    That being said, we have seen the reports from Bolton to Bedford that show our path to the easing of all restrictions is fragile. We should embrace being able to be with one another again, but we also need to be sensible in our approach. As a group of Colleges with thousands of students and staff, all of whom have hundreds of interactions a day, we have a significant responsibility to ensure that we continue to be pragmatic in our own approach.

    As a result, we will keep the same rules around facemasks that have been in place for the second half of this term. We will continue to require all staff and students to wear a facemask when entering, leaving or moving around the College buildings, as well as in our communal areas. Facemasks should still be worn in classrooms where social distancing cannot be maintained and/or there are people who are vulnerable.

    This is, after all, still the legal requirement that any non-exempt member of our community will have to follow if they, for example, use public transport or visit a shop – which is why we believe it is prudent that we continue to follow this course of action.

    Our hope is that on the 21st of June we will be able to join with the rest of the country in further relaxing the rules we have to follow and ask for your continued assistance in helping us get to that point.

    Warm regards,

    Colin Shaw
    Principal - Sixth Form Provision

  • for Students, Parents and Carers (14 May 2021)

    Dear Parents, Carers and Students,

    On Monday 17th May, the country will start the next phase of the government’s roadmap out of lockdown. This is of course another welcome step towards normality. 

    We must be cautious, which is why from Monday it will still be mandatory to wear a facemask when entering, leaving or moving around the College buildings as well as in our communal areas. Facemasks should still be worn in classrooms for activities that involve close proximity such as hair and beauty and hospitality. This is consistent with approaches being taken in a working environment). Facemasks should also be worn in classrooms where staff have identified a need in order to protect vulnerable individuals.

    A number of schools in Suffolk have had to send groups of students home over the last few weeks because of positive Covid tests. As we are at such a crucial point of the academic year with the Teacher Assessed Grades being finalised over the next two weeks, we cannot take our eye off the ball.

    We will continue to encourage the use of outside space during breaks, will maintain social distancing (Hands, Face, Space) and use twice weekly voluntary Lateral Flow Tests. It is still a requirement that those with symptoms immediately isolate and seek a full PCR covid test.

    We will be reviewing our guidelines again straight after half term and will send further updates.

    I want to take the opportunity to thank you all for your continued support and understanding. There is light at the end of the tunnel, but it’s also so important that we continue to follow the rules, proceed with caution and look after our community.  

    Please let us know if you have any questions.

     

    Kind Regards 

    Colin Shaw

  • for Parents and Carers (15 March 2021)

    Dear Parents and Carers,

    I hope you are well.

    At the start of the week I sat down and pondered what a successful first week back would look like. It was my hope that I would be able to write grandiose statements about how we had overcome challenges, laughed at being back together, embraced being part of a community and smoothly moved back to face-to-face learning.

    The truth is, all of that is true. The biggest compliment I can pay, however, is much more simple – everything has started to feel incredibly normal. Understandably, there has (and will continue to be) been some apprehension - that is only natural after our individual and collective experiences. People have, however, supported one another, been considerate and thought about their role in a wider community.

    What makes this more impressive is that this has been achieved against a backdrop of over 7,000 Lateral Flow Tests being undertaken, facemasks being worn, and a “cyber incident” at one of our colleges. Our staff and students have addressed what was needed to be addressed, and focused on what matters – wellbeing, learning and laughter.

    Getting back to a level of normality has taken a huge effort on all our parts.

    So, now is not the time to bombard you with more information. The next round of burning questions is about the exams – and we are doing all that we can to get clarity, plan for all scenarios and be ready to ensure that no student is disadvantaged. As much as I am able, I will give you an update on this next week.

    Finally, I write this at the end of International Women’s Week and on Mothering Sunday. The wider issues surrounding the personal tragedy for the Everard family are also, rightly, being discussed at all levels.

    We will reflect on everything over the coming weeks, and ask ourselves if we can do more to address some of the complex issues that are being raised. It is important that any response is carefully considered.

    I simply wanted to say a specific thank you to all the women who are part of our college communities. At every single level of the organisation you have shaped and defined who we are and what we do.

    Warm regards,

    Nikos

  • for Parents and Carers (8 March 2021)

    Dear Parents/Carers,

    I hope you are well and enjoying what is feeling like the start of Spring.

    Today is a milestone as our students are now back in college. It is a fantastic moment, and it is a real step forward.

    That being said, we know that there is apprehension as well as celebration about people coming back together. I fully understand and appreciate that. Whatever your feelings are, we will work with you and support you.

    You may find it reassuring to know that the last few weeks have been incredibly busy. Teams across our three colleges have been working tirelessly to put into place systems for testing, as well as re-evaluating every space and process to ensure that we are doing all that we can to keep our community safe.

    In addition, teaching staff have really been going above and beyond to ensure the online provision is engaging, informative and effective. I would like to say a huge thank you for all that our teaching and non-teaching staff have done during lockdown three. I am genuinely in awe in what they have achieved since the start of January.

    The key phrase that we will now hear from the Government is about catch up, as the focus rightly moves to how we ensure that no student is disadvantaged academically by the pandemic. I do, however, think we need to look more broadly than that.

    Our students need to catch up with each other. They need to catch up on the enrichment activities. They need to catch up on leadership opportunities. They need to catch up with connections with employers. To be frank, the list goes on. To help our students to progress to the next stages of their education and careers, we need to ensure that they have equality of opportunity – we shouldn’t just bombard them with more lessons. It is not about quantity, it is about quality.

    Furthermore, there is no one size fits all approach. We know that we need to target support in different ways for different people.

    So, while I appreciate that there are hundreds of headlines with people expressing significant views and opinions on what schools and colleges should be doing right now – we are the ones who understand our students’ educational needs best. We will be leaving no stone unturned in getting the very best for them, while ensuring we are keeping us all safe and healthy.

    How grades will be awarded is also, understandably, a key topic of conversation as the students come back together.

    The key thing I want to reiterate at the moment is that there is a huge amount of speculation, but there is much less detail about what colleges need to do to help each student get the grades that they rightly deserve.

    We are waiting for all the information from the Department for Education, which we largely hear at the same time as you, and the devil will be in the detail when it comes to how we will evidence the grades. We will respond to that detail accordingly when it is available to us. As the way forward from there becomes clearer, then we will keep you updated every step of the way.

    I don’t want to be too repetitive, but I go back to a line that we have used many times throughout this pandemic - we can only control what we can control. Our immediate aims are to ensure that our students return safely over the course of this week, and that they have the best education experience in the safest possible way.

    Finally, thank you. Your continued support is not just appreciated, it is vital. We are a real partnership.

    Kind regards,

    Nikos
    Chief Executive Officer, Suffolk Academies Trust and West Suffolk College

  • for Students (3 March 2021)

    Dear student,

    We are very much looking forward to welcoming you back on site from Monday 8th March. It will be great to see you again in person. Students returning to schools and colleges like ours are amongst the first steps that society is taking as we return back to “normality”. We all know and appreciate how important it is to do things like start seeing friends again, to participate in lessons in person rather than on screen, and to reopen our doors once more to practical subjects.

    However, these first steps need to be taken with caution. We all have a responsibility to make sure that we look after each other, as by doing that then the lockdown can continue to be unlocked. That is why we are putting so much time and effort in getting your return right.

    Lots of information will be communicated with you over the coming weeks on how we can support you between now and the end of the academic year. In short, there is lots to look forward to and for us to do. We appreciate that you will also have questions about things like how your grades will be awarded. We are awaiting guidance as it comes out from the Department for Education, but for now the immediate aim is, however, to focus on your safe return to the building from next week.

    We have spent the last few months planning for this, and we are positive that we have created an environment that can protect us all from significant risk. We do, however, need your help. We need you to continue to follow the rules and guidance to help us protect the most vulnerable amongst us and to stop people from becoming unwell.

    Lateral Flow Testing (LFT)

    • There is a Lateral Flow Testing service available for you at our University Studies building based on Western Way. The Lateral Flow Test is voluntary, however we would like to encourage as many students as possible to take the test as another way to ensure the safety of our community. The service is available in our building but is run centrally by Suffolk County Council. To book a test, please do so using this link: https://www.suffolk.gov.uk/coronavirus-covid-19/covid-19-asymptomatic-testing/
    • Test results are managed through a central test and trace system. We must ask that if students do receive a positive result that you have a returning home plan in place to avoid heading back into the college buildings or having contact with others within the wider community.
    • If able to do so, it would help immensely if students could book a LTF at a local testing centre prior to returning to site next week. There are 28 centres in Suffolk and information on these can be found here: COVID-19 testing in Suffolk if you don't have symptoms | Suffolk County Council. Please note, no student will be refused entry to site next week if a test has not been taken; we are just trying to encourage testing as much as possible as one of the Covid-19 mitigations now in place.
    • We will be making arrangements to supply home test kits for students, more information will follow on this, however, students are required to have undertaken at least 3 supervised tests prior to requesting the home kits. These on-site tests can be undertaken at the most convenient centre for you and not necessarily the one at University Studies.

    Please note:

    • A negative LFT result does not necessarily mean that you do not have Covid-19 so it is vital that we continue to adhere to all of the precautionary measures in place.
    • You can only take a LFT if you do not have any symptoms – if you do have symptoms, please book a PCR test at a local testing centre and isolate as per the Government guidance.
    • If you have recently (within 90 days) tested positive for Covid-19, you are likely to have developed some immunity. You are therefore exempt from testing by both PCR and LFT within 90 days of a positive test, unles you develop new symptoms.
    • The NHS recommends that people should continue to take a LFT even if they have had a vaccine. It is also worth remembering that it takes a few weeks for the vaccine to provide immunity.

    The college safety measures

    • It is now more important than ever that all students and staff adhere to the social distancing guidelines and the hands, face, space approach. We must continue with the basics to ensure the safety of our students, colleagues and wider community and we urge all students to continue with this approach when outside of the college as well.
    • Students will now be expected to wear a face covering at all times whilst on site unless exempt from this. These can be removed when eating or drinking in the designated areas.

    Please do remember that at any point on your return should you display any Covid-19 symptoms, please do not come into college until you have a confirmed negative PCR test that has been taken a local testing centre.

    If you have any questions or queries around what returning to college looks like for your specific area, please contact your Tutor or PST in the first instance. For any queries around Covid-19 or the Lateral Flow Testing, please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

    One of the things that we should be most proud of is how we have worked together over the last 12 months. We may have had to be separated more than ever physically, but that has not stopped a real sense of community flourishing.

    We need to continue to build on this over the remaining part of the academic year. How you have supported each other so far has been incredible, we do not want to fall at the last hurdle.

    We very much look forward to seeing you all from Monday next week and we would like to thank you for the support and understanding at this time.

    Best wishes,

    Nikos Savvas and Colin Shaw

  • for Parents and Carers (3 March 2021)

    Dear Parent/Carer,

    We are very much looking forward to welcoming our students on site from Monday 8th March.

    I want to assure you that we appreciate how an important a step this is, and we are doing all that we can to keep your child safe and well. Students returning to schools and colleges like ours are amongst the first steps that society is taking as we return back to “normality”, and we want to make sure that we get this right for so many reasons.

    However, these first steps need to be taken with caution. We all have a responsibility to make sure that we look after each other, as by doing that then the lockdown can continue to be unlocked.

    Lots of information will be communicated with you over the coming weeks on how we can support your child between now and the end of the academic year. We appreciate that you may also have questions about how your child’s final grades will be awarded. There is lots to look forward to and for us to do, but we must go one step at a time and digest the guidance as it is issued from the Department for Education.

    The immediate aim is to focus on our students’ safe return to the building from next week. We have spent the last few months planning for this, and we are positive that we have created an environment that can protect us all from significant risk. We do, however, need your help. We need our students to continue to follow the rules and guidance, both at home and in college, to help us protect the most vulnerable amongst us and to stop people from becoming unwell.

    Lateral Flow Testing (LFT)

    • There is a Lateral Flow Testing service available for our students at our University Studies building based on Western Way. The Lateral Flow Test is voluntary, however we would like to encourage as many students as possible to take the test as another way to ensure the safety of our community. The service is available in our building but is run centrally by Suffolk County Council. For students to book a test, they can do so using this link: https://www.suffolk.gov.uk/coronavirus-covid-19/covid-19-asymptomatic-testing/
    • Test results are managed through a central test and trace system. We must ask that if students do receive a positive result that they have a returning home plan in place to avoid heading back into the college buildings or having contact with others within the wider community. Please do support them with this.
    • If able to do so, it would help immensely if students could book a LTF at a local testing centre prior to returning to site next week. There are 28 centres in Suffolk and information on these can be found here: COVID-19 testing in Suffolk if you don't have symptoms | Suffolk County Council. Please note, no student will be refused entry to site next week if a test has not been taken; we are just trying to encourage testing as much as possible as one of the Covid-19 mitigations now in place.
    • We will be making arrangements to supply home test kits for students, more information will follow on this, however, students are required to have undertaken at least 3 supervised tests prior to requesting the home kits. These on-site tests can be undertaken at the most convenient centre for them and not necessarily the one at University Studies.

    Please note:

    • A negative LFT result does not necessarily mean that a student does not have Covid-19 so it is vital that we continue to adhere to all of the precautionary measures in place.
    • You can only take a LFT if you do not have any symptoms – if a student does have symptoms, please book a PCR test at a local testing centre and isolate as per the Government guidance.
    • If a student has recently (within 90 days) tested positive for Covid-19, they are likely to have developed some immunity. They are therefore exempt from testing by both PCR and LFT within 90 days of a positive test, unles they develop new symptoms.
    • The NHS recommends that people should continue to take a LFT even if they have had a vaccine. It is also worth remembering that it takes a few weeks for the vaccine to provide immunity.

    The college safety measures

    • It is now more important than ever that all students and staff adhere to the social distancing guidelines and the hands, face, space approach. We must continue with the basics to ensure the safety of our students, colleagues and wider community and we urge all students to continue with this approach when outside of the college as well. We would appreciate your support in raising the awareness of how important this is.
    • Students will now be expected to wear a face covering at all times whilst on site unless exempt from this. These can be removed when eating or drinking in the designated areas.

    Please do remember that at any point on our students return should they display any Covid-19 symptoms, we ask that they please do not come into college until they have a confirmed negative PCR test that has been taken a local testing centre.

    Please note – a version of this email has been sent directly to the students. If students have any questions or queries around what returning to college looks like for their specific area we have asked them to contact their Tutor or PST in the first instance. For any queries around Covid-19 or the Lateral Flow Testing, please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

    One of the things that we should be most proud of is how we have all worked together over the last 12 months. We may have had to be separated more than ever physically, but that has not stopped a real sense of community flourishing.

    We need to continue to build on this over the remaining part of the academic year. How our students, staff and parents have supported each other so far has been incredible, we do not want to fall at the last hurdle.

    Best wishes,

    Nikos Savvas and Colin Shaw

  • for Students (Friday 26 February 2021)

    Dear student,


    I find myself writing to you, after once again watching an announcement from the Prime Minister earlier in the week, and then holding tight as a series of policy announcements flow out of Government Departments in the following days.

    There has been a huge amount of information and debate. While the guidance is vital and the discussion important, I am also aware that it can also be quite overwhelming. It is a challenge to keep on top of, and it understandably can lead to confusion and worry.

    Over the coming days, we will be writing to you with the details of what all of these announcements mean in practical terms. We are delighted that we can welcome our students back on site, but it is also clear that there will need to be changes in how we ensure that each and every one of you are safe.


    The key headlines are:


    We will be reopening soon – the end is in sight!

    Schools and colleges are to return in the week commencing March 8th. This is fantastic. As much as colleges are about education, they are also about community – and no amount of Teams meetings can replace the collegiate energy that is generated when we are all together.

    We are being given some flexibility as to what our reopening looks like, and we welcome the fact that we have the freedom to make sensible decisions. It means that we can carefully consider how to roll out testing and support you during those first days. This does mean, however, that every school and college may be doing things slightly differently – so please do watch out for information about our specific plans.

    The main thing is that we are firmly on the path to reopening the College buildings and taking our first steps back to normality.


    Testing will be a part of all our lives

    We will be undertaking a series of Lateral Flow Tests with you when you return. However, the focus will soon move to families conducting their own tests.

    I don’t know the exact details about this, they will come, but this is going to take our partnership to a new level. We will be relying on you and your families to do something that has never been asked of you to help us to keep everyone safe. We will be providing as much support as possible, so please do not feel alone. Your support and involvement are so important.


    Facemasks will become part of college life

    In line with guidance, in the majority of lessons facemasks will be required for everyone who is not exempt. This will be strange, and it will take some getting used to again. I am, however, seeing it as part of the balance we are going to have to strike to ensure that all our community feels safe when we return.


    Measures will still be in place

    While huge strides have been made at a national level via the vaccination programme, we must still be cautious. We will still have to ask people to self-isolate if they have been near a student who has tested positive, and it is important that social distancing is still followed at home and in college.

    Given that we will be reopening buildings shortly, any decisions you make now could have an impact on our wider community from the 8th March. I know there is light at the end of the Covid tunnel, but please do continue to protect yourselves to help protect others.


    Exams – some clarification

    After all the debate about exams/no exams, we are now moving to a system of Centre Assessed Grades. Firstly, I want to be clear about one thing – the key word in this term is Centre. Teachers will play a vital role in helping you to get in the strongest position to get the grades you rightly deserve, but the final grades will go through some robust assessment and review.

    To help each college decide how to grade students, we will be potentially using a mix of assessment methods on topics that have been covered, coursework and work undertaken in lessons. All decisions about grades will need to be evidenced. It is also important that we use the assessment information to establish gaps in learning as we continue to ensure no student is left behind as a result of the past year.

    So, please do continue to engage with your lessons. We want every one of you to get the very best grade that you rightfully deserve – but there are no “free passes”.


    In summary, the news is good. In fact, we are truly delighted. It has cheered me up after a year where, to be frank, it has felt like it has lasted much longer than the average 365 days.

    I don’t, however, want us to fall at the last hurdle when we have achieved so much as a community in the last 12 months. At this moment in time, we still have the same responsibility to protect one each other as we did at the height of the pandemic. We will take that responsibility seriously, and we ask for your support in this too.


    Thank you once again for everything.


    Warm regards,

    Nikos Savvas
    Chief Executive Officer, Suffolk Academies Trust and West Suffolk College

  • for Students, Parents and Carers (15 February 2021)

    Dear parents/carers and students,

    Last week, I had a period of reflection and looked back at the e-mails I sent out at the end of term in December. If I am honest, they made me smile and frown in equal amounts. We started the New Year with hopes that this half term would see some level of normality return as we rolled out our Lateral Flow Testing Centres and the vaccination programme continued at pace – but that clearly changed within the first four days of January.

    So, without any apology, I wanted to start with a message of thanks. Every single person has had a role to play in our response to the pandemic. The notes of thanks we have received from students and parents have a huge impact on our staff. Our teaching and support staff have collaborated and supported each other in ways that is driving innovation, and, crucially, our students continue to show what an impressive group of young people they are. In the face of so much challenge, they are grasping every opportunity that comes their way.

    That is, in short, what I think makes Lockdown 3 different from the prequels. What has really struck me over the last six weeks is that how well we respond to this lockdown is no longer about the “big things”. The home learning systems are in place, testing is part of our daily life, and we have become used to the demands that are being placed on us. In a period where we are all tired of the situation, and the dark nights seem to have lasted longer than ever, it is those smaller actions and interactions that are the things that are having the biggest impact. That, for me, is what has defined Lockdown 3.

    So, I am going to leave all big announcements about the next half term until we see what the Government announces over the coming days. Whatever they say, we will deal with in due course. We have collectively done everything asked of us, and more, over the last 12 months – and we will continue to do so for however long is needed.

    I am simply going to wish all our students a very restful and relaxing half term break. Every single one of you deserves a break. So, where possible, shut the laptops, get some time away from screens and appreciate those around you and some of the little things in life. The rest will sort itself!

    Dr Nikos Savvas

  • for Parents and Carers (1 February 2021)

    Dear parents/carers,

    I hope you are well.

    As you may have heard, the Government announced last week that schools and colleges will remain “closed” until at least the 8th of March. While none of us can predict the future, as a group of colleges we are starting to put in place plans that cover all eventualities until the Easter holidays.

    I personally find the term closed unhelpful. Our doors are still open to students who have parents who are critical workers or have additional needs. Lessons are not just continuing, but I have been extremely impressed by the quality of teaching that staff are providing. We continue to strengthen the pastoral support for all our students. Things are different, but we are anything but closed.

    That doesn’t mean that, as understandable and correct as the decision is, it is any less disappointing. As an educationalist, the thought that our colleges will not be full for the foreseeable future really saddens me. As a parent, if I am honest, it fills me with dread! I know that some of our students are also feeling flat now that a return to some form of normality is just that slightly further out of reach.

    So, please do keep in touch. We speak regularly to our students, but you are the people who see the things that we can’t see over online platforms or pick up in telephone calls. If there is anything we can do to help or to support you or them, then please just say. We are genuinely here to help.

    We will keep you updated with news, and what it means for our students, on a regular basis. As it stands:

    • We know that all Vocational and Technical exams have been cancelled for February and March and that there a consultation regarding what the traditional exam period will look like is being undertaken by the Department for Education. It will be several weeks before any further guidance is issued, so please continue to work on the assumption that anything may happen.
    • There are no plans for vaccinations for young people under the age of 18 at this stage, so I think that colleges being a testing centre will continue for the foreseeable future.
    • Finally, there has also been a recent Government white paper on how Further Education institutions will support lifelong learning and growth in the future. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it as a spot of light reading, but it is fantastic to show that the sector is starting to look beyond the pandemic. We will have a role to play in helping the region’s workforce to adapt to the new normal and future innovations, and I know that is a prospect our staff are hugely excited about.

    So, we are here. Talk to us. Keep in touch. There will be good days and bad days, we all know and accept that. Look after your mental and physical health and happiness first and foremost, the rest will follow.

    Warm regards,

    Nikos Savvas

    Colin Shaw

  • for Students (1 February 2021)

    Dear students,

    I hope you are well.

    As you may have heard, the Government announced last week that schools and colleges will remain “closed” until at least the 8th of March. While none of us can predict the future, as a group of colleges we are starting to put in place plans that cover all eventualities until the Easter holidays.

    I personally find the term closed unhelpful. Our doors are still open to those of you who have parents who are critical workers or have additional needs. Lessons are not just continuing, but I have been extremely impressed by the quality of teaching that staff are providing. We continue to strengthen the pastoral support for all of our students. Things are different, but we are anything but closed.

    That doesn’t mean that, as understandable and correct as the decision is, it is any less disappointing. As an educationalist, the thought that our colleges will not be full for the foreseeable future really saddens me. As a parent, if I am honest, it fills me with dread! I know that some of you are also feeling flat now that a return to some form of normality is just that slightly further out of reach.

    So, please do keep in touch. We speak regularly to you, but you are the people who see the things that we can’t see over online platforms or pick up in telephone calls. If there is anything we can do to help or to support you, then please just say. We are genuinely here to help.

    We will keep you updated with news, and what it means for you on a regular basis. As it stands:

    • We know that all Vocational and Technical exams have been cancelled for February and March and that there a consultation regarding what the traditional exam period will look like is being undertaken by the Department for Education. It will be several weeks before any further guidance is issued, so please continue to work on the assumption that anything may happen.
    • There are no plans for vaccinations for young people under the age of 18 at this stage, so I think that colleges being a testing centre will continue for the foreseeable future.
    • Finally, there has also been a recent Government white paper on how Further Education institutions will support lifelong learning and growth in the future. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it as a spot of light reading, but it is fantastic to show that the sector is starting to look beyond the pandemic. We will have a role to play in helping the region’s workforce to adapt to the new normal and future innovations, and I know that is a prospect our staff are hugely excited about.

    So, we are here. Talk to us. Keep in touch. There will be good days and bad days, we all know and accept that. Look after your mental and physical health and happiness first and foremost, the rest will follow.

    Warm regards,

    Nikos Savvas

    Colin Shaw

  • for Students, Parents and Carers (25 January 2021)
  • for Students (7 January 2021)

    Dear students,

    Following the Government’s announcement of a full national lockdown for England from 4 January 2021, I would like to provide you with as much clarity as we possibly can at this stage on what this means for you.

    During the period of national lockdown, we are asked to remain open to vulnerable students and the students of critical workers only; although this is more relevant to younger educational settings, such as primaries and Secondary schools, where young people cannot work at home without supervision.

    Vulnerable students include those who:

    • are assessed as being in need under section 17 of the Children Act 1989, including children and young people who have a child in need plan, a child protection plan or who are a looked-after child
    • have an education, health and care (EHC) plan
    • have been identified as otherwise vulnerable by educational providers or local authorities (including children’s social care services), and who could therefore benefit from continued full-time attendance, this might include:
      • children and young people on the edge of receiving support from children’s social care services or in the process of being referred to children’s services
      • adopted children or children on a special guardianship order
      • those at risk of becoming NEET (‘not in employment, education or training’)
      • those living in temporary accommodation
      • those who are young carers
      • those who may have difficulty engaging with remote education at home (for example due to a lack of devices or quiet space to study)
      • care leavers
      • others at the provider and local authority’s discretion including pupils and students who need to attend to receive support or manage risks to their mental health

    We believe that we have the knowledge of any students fitting these criteria and as such, we will be in contact with them directly. However, whilst we strongly encourage all students to study at home where you can, if you feel that your circumstances would place you in one of these categories then please contact your PST immediately.

    All other students will learn remotely until February half term. Tutors will be in direct communication with all students with immediate effect, as we transition instantaneously into online delivery. The good news is that you have all excelled in how you have embraced a digital provision previously and our staff teams have been exceptional in providing this support.

    On Tuesday 5 January at 6.00pm, the Government gave schools and colleges the option as to whether or not to run the vocational exams planned this week if they determine it is safe to do so. We have made the decision to give every student the opportunity to take the exam if they so wish but for any students who have concerns or are unable to travel to the college, there is no obligation to attend. Students have been contacted directly on this but the full statement on this can also be found here.

    For those of you who would have been taking summer exams, many of you will inevitably have many mixed emotions about the news that they will not be going ahead as planned this year. We are still working through much of this information but we are here to offer as much support as possible for you. We do believe that our students will still get the grades that reflect their talents and abilities.

    On the matter of testing, the college, like all education establishments that support young people over the age of 11, will be providing a lateral flow testing facility from Monday 11 January. This will mean we will be in a position to provide rapid tests for staff and students who are on site from next week and this will help us further support our community in containing the virus and limiting the impact on learning. For any students on site next week that wish to be tested, full guidance and support will be readily available for them.

    Finally, I just wanted to say that collectively we overcame every challenge that 2020 threw at us – and I have no doubt that we will continue to do the same while the vaccine rolls out. In the meantime, please rest assured that we will continue working together, as one, to help and support each other and the community we serve.

    Thank you for the ongoing support and understanding.

    Warm regards,

    Dr Nikos Savvas

    Chief Executive

    West Suffolk College

    Colin Shaw

    Principal, Sixth Form Provision

    West Suffolk College

  • for Parents and Carers (7 January 2021)

    Parents / Carers,

    Following the Government’s announcement of a full national lockdown for England from 4 January 2021, I would like to provide you with as much clarity as we possibly can at this stage on what this means for our students.

    During the period of national lockdown, we are asked to remain open to vulnerable students and the children of critical workers only; although this is more relevant to younger educational settings, such as primaries and Secondary schools, where young people cannot work at home without supervision.

    Vulnerable students include those who:

    • are assessed as being in need under section 17 of the Children Act 1989, including children and young people who have a child in need plan, a child protection plan or who are a looked-after child
    • have an education, health and care (EHC) plan
    • have been identified as otherwise vulnerable by educational providers or local authorities (including children’s social care services), and who could therefore benefit from continued full-time attendance, this might include:
      • children and young people on the edge of receiving support from children’s social care services or in the process of being referred to children’s services
      • adopted children or children on a special guardianship order
      • those at risk of becoming NEET (‘not in employment, education or training’)
      • those living in temporary accommodation
      • those who are young carers
      • those who may have difficulty engaging with remote education at home (for example due to a lack of devices or quiet space to study)
      • care leavers
      • others at the provider and local authority’s discretion including pupils and students who need to attend to receive support or manage risks to their mental health

    We believe that we have the knowledge of any students fitting these criteria and as such, we will be in contact with them directly. However, whilst we strongly encourage students to study at home where they can, if you feel that your circumstances would place you in one of these categories then please ask your child/dependent to contact their PST immediately.

    All other students will learn remotely until February half term. Tutors will be in direct communication with all students with immediate effect, as we transition instantaneously into online delivery. The good news is our students have excelled in how they have embraced a digital provision previously and our staff teams have been exceptional in providing this support.

    On Tuesday 5 January at 6.00pm, the Government gave schools and colleges the option as to whether or not to run the vocational exams planned this week if they determine it is safe to do so. We have made the decision to give every student the opportunity to take the exam if they so wish but for any students who have concerns or are unable to travel to the college, there is no obligation to attend. Students have been contacted directly but the full statement on this can be found here.

    On the summer exams, students will inevitably have many mixed emotions about the news that exams will not be going ahead as planned this year. We are still working through much of this information but we are here to offer as much support as possible for our students. We do believe that our students will still get the grades that reflect their talents and abilities.

    On the matter of testing, the college, like all education establishments that support young people over the age of 11, will provide a lateral flow testing facility from Monday 11 January. This will mean we will be in a position to provide rapid tests for staff and students who are on site from next week and this will help us further support our community in containing the virus and limiting the impact on learning. For any students on site that wish to be tested, full guidance and support will be readily available for them.

    Finally, I just wanted to say that collectively we overcame every challenge that 2020 threw at us – and I have no doubt that we will continue to do the same while the vaccine rolls out. In the meantime, please rest assured that we will continue working together, as one, to help and support each other and the community we serve.

    Thank you for the ongoing support and understanding.

    Warm regards,

    Dr Nikos Savvas

    Chief Executive

    West Suffolk College

    Colin Shaw

    Principal, Sixth Form Provision

    West Suffolk College

Lateral flow test updates

  • for Students (7 April 2021)

    Dear Students,

     

     

    I hope you have had a restful Easter break and we look forward to welcoming back to college.

     

    During the break and on your return, we ask you to remain vigilant with Hand-Face-Space and thank you for the commitment you have shown to your studies.

     

    As a continuation of our Lateral Flow Test kits for home use, we will be replenishing Home Test kits on your return to college in the following way.

     

    • Test Kits will be issued during your normal attendance at college from Monday 12th April

    • You will be issued with your Home Test kit as part of your course director/tutorial time

    • Your course director, tutor and PST will be on hand to support you

    • Please have a pen available for your personal use only

     

    If you have not already done so, you will need to have activated your registration with the SchoolScreener site open in Chrome or on a smartphone on the following link:

     

    https://app.schoolscreener.com/Portal/#/Covidmanager/p/CovidSelf/130818

     

    Please continue to carry out a test every Sunday and Wednesday with the final test of your Easter break being completed on Sunday 11th April, prior to your return to college.

     

    You must always report your results (Positive, Negative, Void) carried out at home to the NHS Test and Trace link in your instructions and to SchoolScreener each time you complete a test. If you take a PCR or Lateral Flow test at any other location, please still report any outcome via your SchoolScreener login.

     

    For anyone without Home Test Kits you can get a PCR or LFD test completed in community settings, but you must report a positive result to the Covid-19 Reporting mailbox This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. so that we can offer support as required and take appropriate action.

     

    As always, if you test positive or have any Covid-19 symptoms then you should self-isolate in accordance with government guidance.

     

    Thank you again for your continued support.

     

    Colin Shaw

    Principal, Sixth Form Provision

    West Suffolk College

  • for Students (26 March 2021)

    Dear Student,

     

    We understand that some of you are having difficulties with the schoolscreener software when recording your lateral flow test results.  

     

    It appears that the issue is due to a naming discrepancy.  As an example, if your College records have you registered as Robert but in the registration software, you enter Rob, you will not be able to enter a result for your test.

     

    If you encounter an issue, please e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and we will check your record and let you know how your details have been recorded on the College system.  Once we have this information, we will let you know so that you can re-register with a different e-mail address at https://app.schoolscreener.com/Portal/#/Covidmanager/p/CovidSelf/130818

     

    If you do not have another email address available, we can request a record update, but this will take a while to process.

     

    Once registered you should then be able to upload test results.

     

    As a reminder, if you test positive you need to:

     

    1: Report this on the NHS site as per the test kit instructions

    2: Upload on the school screener

    3: Send a message to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

     

    Thanks for your patience and please continue with the tests on Wednesdays and Sundays even if you can only report to the NHS and the e-mail address.

     

    Please keep an eye on your emails over the break. More home test kits will be distributed when you return to college.

     

    I hope you all take a well-deserved break over the Easter holiday and I look forward to welcoming you all back to college next term

     

    Kind regards,

     

    Colin Shaw

    Principal Sixth Form Provision

  • for Students (19 March 2021)

    Dear Students,

     

    Thank you for your continued support and for responding in the brilliant way you always do.

     

    The following information outlines how you will receive your Home Test kits (a bundle of 6 Lateral Flow Test Kits for you to perform at home). These will be issued during your normal attendance at college from Monday 22nd March. You will be issued with your home test kit as part of your course director/tutorial time, during which you will be asked to confirm you have completed the confirmation form which can be found here:

     

    https://forms.office.com/Pages/ResponsePage.aspx?id=-r7XeKBlLkOmcY3_3FANdISrRlXLzWNHtlnvPK3N7VhUOUlNWlEyWk0zMzc4Q0pIMkxSMExUVjBMVS4u

     

    In addition, prior to receiving your Home Test kits, you will asked to confirm you have activated your registration with the SchoolScreener site open in Chrome or on a smartphone on the following link:

     

    https://app.schoolscreener.com/Portal/#/Covidmanager/p/CovidSelf/130818

     

    Your course director, tutor and PST will be on hand to support you and please have a pen for your personal use only.

     

    After you have collected your Home Test Kit please carry out a test every Sunday and Wednesday ensuring that you have enough to complete a test on Sunday 11th April, prior to your return to college after the Easter break.

     

    You must always report your results (Positive, Negative, Void) carried out at home to the NHS Test and Trace link in your instructions and to SchoolScreener each time. If you take a PCR or Lateral Flow test at any other location, please still report any outcome via your SchoolScreener login.

     

    For anyone without Home Kits you can get a PCR or LFD test completed in community settings, but you must report a positive result to the Covid-19 Reporting mailbox This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. so that we can offer support as required and take appropriate action.

     

    As always, if you test positive or have any Covid-19 symptoms then you should self-isolate in accordance with government guidance.

     

    Colin Shaw

    Principal, Sixth Form Provision

    West Suffolk College

  • for Students (18 March 2021)

    Dear Student,

    I hope you are well.

    The use of Lateral Flow Tests (LFT’s) has been a valuable part of our approach to Covid-19 Secure measures. Our students and staff have brilliantly adapted to the regular testing regime. This offer will remain in place from us and locally until further notice and all other covid secure measures will also remain such as HANDS-FACE-SPACE.

    We continue to follow the government advice and will start issuing home test kits from Monday 22nd March. Following this initial roll out, for which you will receive clear guidance by the end of the week, we plan to move to a collection service for home testing.

    If you are choosing to use home test kits you do not need to give medical consent (written or otherwise). However, you will be able to read our privacy notice on the college website, the link will be shared with you shortly.

    To ensure we can support you during this process an additional system to track your home testing and results is available. Once you have completed the first form please use the link below to our system to track your testing regime. This will need to be completed prior to receiving your test kits.

    It is vital that you complete this system as well as the NHS system with results.

    https://app.schoolscreener.com/Portal/#/Covidmanager/p/CovidSelf/130818

    It is important to assert that these tests are exclusively for your use but if you or your family require further tests you can collect one from a local centre or order online at the link below.

    Schools, nurseries and colleges testing: order coronavirus (COVID-19) rapid lateral flow home test kits - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

    Each test pack will contain 7 tests, we are requesting you complete a test on Sunday and Wednesday ensuring you save one test to use on Sunday 11th April prior to your return to college.

    If you have a positive result, we ask that you inform the college straight away and that the requisite 10-day isolation begins. For all home lateral flow test positive results a following up PCR test is required at your local test centre.

    Many thanks for your continued support.

    Colin Shaw

    Principal, Sixth Form Provision

    West Suffolk College

  • for Students (4 February 2021)

    Dear Student,

    I hope you are well. I would like to take this opportunity to provide an update on our lateral flow testing service here at the college.

    I am pleased to say that after working successfully in conjunction with Suffolk County Council and Public Health England, we are now in a position to be able to offer a lateral flow testing service to all staff, students and the general public. This facility will be based in the third hangar of the University Studies building on Western Way and is now open for bookings. There is signage in place to direct people to the correct entrance. If you wish to be tested, please follow this link to create a profile and book a slot.

    Our temporary lateral flow testing service based in The Gateway building is now closed and we must thank our brilliant team of volunteers for working so hard to deliver this service, along with students who utilised this and demonstrated an exemplary attitude in the process. Moving forwards, all students wishing to be tested will need to go to the new facility at the University Studies building. This is with the exception of any Minden House based students and staff members only who can be tested on site at Minden House in their usual environment.

    For security reasons, the main University Studies student entrance is now locked to avoid members of the public entering the building this way.

    We are extremely pleased to be in a position to offer this service and we look forward to this going some way in protecting our students, staff and wider community.

    Best wishes,

    Richard Stevenson
    Group Operations Director

  • for Students (11 January 2021)

    Dear student,

    I hope you are keeping well.

    Now that we have had some time to put in plans for our lateral flow testing facility, I would like to take the opportunity to give you some detail on the latest developments around this and what this means for you.

    The college, like all education establishments that support young people over the age of 11, will be operating a lateral flow testing facility to help us further support you as our students, our colleagues and our community in containing the virus.

    Our lateral flow testing will be up and running from Monday 11 January for those students and staff present on site. Whilst we know the majority of you are currently studying from home, we will still have some students and staff on site w/c 11 January 2021 who will be able to be tested. This will be held in the main reception of The Gateway building.

    For students on site to sit exams over the coming weeks, you will be offered the opportunity to take a Lateral Flow Test depending on capacity at the time you arrive at college. If testing is not readily available at point of arrival, this will not prevent you from entering the site and taking your exams. This week (w/c 11 January 2021), we will be prioritising any identified vulnerable students and staff.

    Whilst participating in testing is voluntary, we are strongly encouraging our students and staff to take part so we can better ensure not only the safety of our students and colleagues, but also our families at home. To this end, we would like to advise all students to register for a test using this link. where you will be asked to create an NHS log in. Even if you are remote learning currently and not back on site, we would like to ask you to register for a test so that if the lateral testing facility is still operating when you are back in college, you can readily access this.

    Once registered, we would also like to ask you to complete a consent form either electronically available here. Or you can print, complete and hand in to the testing team when you are next on campus. The consent form is downloadable by clicking here. If you have challenges with this, there will be consent forms available on site for you to complete but we do encourage you to complete a form beforehand.

    An accompanying letter to give you some further information on the lateral testing which we would recommend you read before consenting is downloadable by clicking here.

    We appreciate this is a lot of information for you to process but it is vital that we must now remain as vigilant as ever to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of our students, colleagues and wider community. If you do have any immediate concerns please contact your PST directly or you can email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. where a team will be happy to assist.

    Thank you in advance for your patience and understanding at this time, we continue to be proud and humbled by the way in which you as our students show continued dedication, resilience and optimism in these circumstances.

    Best wishes,

    Colin Shaw

    Principal, Sixth Form Provision

    West Suffolk College

     

  • for Parents and Carers (11 January 2021)

    Dear Parent / Carer,

    I hope you are keeping well.

    Now that we have had some time to put in plans for our lateral flow testing facility, I would like to take the opportunity to give you some detail on the latest developments around this and what this means for our students. Students have been sent this communication directly.

    The college, like all education establishments that support young people over the age of 11, will be operating a lateral flow testing facility to help us further support our students, our colleagues and our community in containing the virus.

    Our lateral flow testing will be up and running from Monday 11 January for those students and staff present on site. Whilst we know the majority of students will be currently studying from home, we will still have some students and staff on site w/c 11 January 2021 who will be able to be tested. This will be held in the main reception of The Gateway building.

    For students on site to sit exams over the coming weeks, they will be offered the opportunity to take a Lateral Flow Test depending on capacity at the time they arrive at college. If testing is not readily available at point of arrival, this will not prevent them from entering the site and taking their exams. Over the coming weeks, we will be prioritising any identified vulnerable students and staff.

    Whilst participating in testing is voluntary, we are strongly encouraging our students and staff to take part so we can better ensure not only the safety of our students and colleagues, but also our families at home. To this end, we would like to advise all students to register for a test using this link, where they will be asked to create an NHS log in. Even if they are remote learning currently and not back on site, we would like to ask students to register for a test so that if the lateral testing facility is still operating when they are back in college they can readily access this.

    Once registered, we are also asking students to complete a consent form either electronically available here. Or they can print, complete and hand in to the testing team when they are next on campus. The consent form can be downloaded by clicking here. If students have challenges with this, there will be consent forms available on site for them to complete but we do encourage them to complete a form beforehand.

    An accompanying letter, which is downloadable by clicking here, will give you some further information on the lateral testing which we have recommended that students also read before consenting.

    We appreciate this is a lot of information for you to process but it is vital that we must now remain as vigilant as ever to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of our students, colleagues and wider community. If you or your child/dependent does have any immediate concerns please ask them to contact their PST directly or you can email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. where a team will be happy to assist.

    Thank you in advance for your patience and understanding, we continue to be proud and humbled by the way our students show continued dedication, resilience and optimism at this time.

    Best wishes,

    Colin Shaw

    Principal, Sixth Form Provision

    West Suffolk College

     

Covid-19 Privacy Statement

BTEC vocational examinations

Remote Education Offer

This information has been provided to support understanding of what students, parents and carers should expect during periods of college closure or student isolation relating to coronavirus (COVID-19). West Suffolk College has taken a number of measures to mitigate the risk of coronavirus transmission and will remain open for students as far as reasonably possible and while it is safe to do so.  In the event of a local or national lockdown, the College will continue to remain open for vulnerable students, but this will remain under review. Please click the link below for full details about our Remote Education Offer.

Useful links