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This information is provided to explain the impact on current Level 3 students of the lockdown period in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is intended to complement individual student UCAS references as per the guidance issued by UCAS.

Background information on the context of West Suffolk College

West Suffolk College (WSC) is located in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, which has a population of over 42,000. There are seven other towns within a twenty mile radius of Bury St Edmunds (the College’s main catchment area) with populations of between 8,000 and 30,000, including Thetford and Diss. Teaching, Learning and Assessment predominantly takes place at the main Bury St Edmunds campus, supplemented by outstanding, well-resourced Construction and Building Services facilities at the nearby Built Environment Campus and four College centres in nearby; Haverhill, Sudbury, IP-City in Ipswich and, as the College is also a significant provider of teaching and learning in South Norfolk, there is a fourth College centre in Thetford.    

The catchment area is expansive with at least half of the population living in villages with poor public transport links. The 16-18 student cohort represents the largest group of students attending the College, with the vast majority studying full-time Study Programmes. The College delivers provision in all sector skill areas; this breadth is important for a College serving such a dispersed rural community.

WSC maintains a broad range of programmes, from pre-entry to graduate to ensure that its community and stakeholders enjoy good access to appropriate education and training that meets their needs

The College had a total of 7,658 funded students in 2019/20, 3,108 on full time programmes and 4,550 on part time programmes. Students studying Education Programmes for Young People represented the majority (43.3%) of students studying at the College, followed by Adult Provision which represented 29.2% of the total student cohort.   Apprentices represented 27.5% of the College’s cohort with 71% of the apprenticeship cohort on the new Standard compared with 29% on the Framework.

Impact of Covid-19

In response to COVID-19 the college quickly and effectively planned and implemented a curriculum strategy to ensure student continued to develop their knowledge, skills and behaviours and progress on to the next stage of their education, training or employment. Staff continued to find innovative way to keep students engaged and learning remotely, through a variety of different platforms and communication methods. The curriculum modified their approach to delivery to ensure that no students were disadvantaged during the lockdown.

The robust wraparound support fully supported students with the emotional, physical and mental wellbeing experienced during lockdown.

On return to the college in the Autumn term all students started with a blended learning model to accommodate social distancing. There has been a small amount of disruption due to COVID positive individuals and the need for some students and staff to self-isolate. 

Higher Education group information sessions have been provided via a variety formats such as Teams and Google classrooms.  One to one support has been provided by either telephone or Teams and an online booking system has been implemented to ensure access to a dedicated progression to HE advisor is available at all times.

Any impact on the information used to determine predicted grades; for example, the cancellation of internal assessments, as well as individual specific Covid circumstances, will be included in their UCAS reference.