Principal’s Blog 06/04/2020

06/04/2020

Let me start by saying I hope everyone is staying home as much as they possibly can, sticking to the social distancing rules when they do have to go out and therefore keeping as safe as possible. The number one priority for us all right now has to be the ongoing effort to defeat this virus and do we all can to try to control its spread and impact.

Remote Teaching and Learning 

We are working very hard to continue to support your learning at home. As a minimum staff are setting work, giving feedback and are making themselves available to give assistance. In almost all instances our fabulous staff have been going far further than this by running their normal timetables remotely and using a range of resources, applications and technology to keep students engaged and making progress.

We do now need to appreciate that this is very likely to be a prolonged period of remote learning. Up until now, we have been trying to keep everything as ‘normal’ as we can, albeit remotely. This is very intense and very hard work. We need to be kind to ourselves, realise we can’t do what we normally do as times are not normal, and find a way of working that is different and can be sustained. This will be different for different people depending on their circumstances. We will continue to review our approaches to teaching and learning in a virtual world and will undertake a student survey on this after Easter.

As the guidance for the assessment of A levels and GCSEs is now out (see below) and will soon be out for vocational programmes too, we will not be continuing remote teaching for second-year students more than about a week beyond the Easter holidays. We will get final details out to second years in this blog on Monday April 20th.

Exams/Assessment

Ofqual released on Friday 3rd April how grades will be calculated for GCSE, AS and A Level qualifications.  Please see the link below to the letter to students on this which contains more detail and a number of FAQs.

The college will be asked to send exam boards two pieces of information for each of your subjects based on your work and achievements:

  • The grade your teacher feels you were most likely to achieve if your courses were completed in the usual way and exams taken
  • Within each subject, the rank order of students by grade and within each grade boundary

Your teachers will consider a range of things such as classwork, flipped learning work, results in assignments and any mock exam results.  They will also be able to base this on any non-exam assessment of coursework that you might have done as well as your general progress.

The college will be submitting these grades to exam boards no earlier than 29th May.  In terms of the grades being issued, the college is not permitted to share that information with you.  These will be released by the exam boards and it is expected that this will be late July/early August.

Details on the calculation of grades for vocational programmes will be out very soon and we will bring that to you as soon as it is released. Every indication is that it will be done in a very similar fashion to the calculation of A level and GCSE results.

Read official Ofqual letter

Remote Support

Our student support teams have also been offering their services remotely to students via google classroom, email and telephone. This is clearly very important, as is regular contact by these teams with our most vulnerable students. All the email contact details for these various teams are at the bottom of this blog.

Students in receipt of free college meals are now able to get this money paid directly into a bank account and we have been contacting these students/their parents about this.

It is very important at this time to look after your physical and mental health. There are lots of online activities that you can take part in to support your physical health and likewise in relation to your mental health.  A useful website for mental health and wellbeing is www.themix.org.uk/  It is important to take a proper break from studies over the Easter holidays.

Careers/UCAS Support for Students

This continues remotely for our final year students through our Careers Team, whose email contact is below. This support will be important for you once all the details on how grades will be awarded for all second-year students is released, as well as when you are awarded your grade.

All first-year students are now working on progression to HE/Apprenticeships/Employment via the weekly PDP sessions. PDP tutors have set up Google Hangout groups and/or are sharing materials online to support students.

After Easter, there will be support for first years in completing personal statements which will be used for UCAS, apprenticeship and employment applications.

Event for Leavers 

We are planning on holding a leavers’ event for our second-year students that will take place later in the year. We want to take the opportunity to provide you with an event where you can share memories with your peers and teachers of your time at Portsmouth College. This is likely to be in the form of a larger scale awards evening for the class of 2018/20.

I want to finish by passing on my sincere best wishes to all who are part of the Portsmouth College community. Please take care of yourselves and each other.

Year 11 Applicants

We have posted details on our website for all our Year 11 applicants, which can be found here. Please rest assured that we already consider you to be part of the Portsmouth College family and will be doing all we can to make your transition to Portsmouth College as smooth as possible in these unique circumstances.

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