College update - 21.01.21

21 January 2021

Dear student

I hope that you and your family are all safe and well and that you are doing as well as possible as we go into week 3 of lockdown. There is a bit of information to pass on today about the coming weeks, both in and out of college, much of which your teachers will be talking to you about but we are keen for you all to hear the same messages from college so here they are.

 

GCSE results

Firstly, a huge well done to all our GCSE Maths and English students; many of you improved upon your grade from last summer with a large proportion of you now achieving your grade 4 or above. This is a real achievement and you should be very proud – we are! Well done to all students and many thanks to the staff who have supported you in this achievement.

 

December mock results

Well done to all of you who sat mock A Level examinations in December. This was an important experience for you as these were the first assessments you have taken under examination conditions since your GCSEs eighteen months ago. These are part of the learning experience and the main thing, whatever your grades (some are excellent but we know that some students will be aiming to improve in the coming months), is that you learn from the feedback. It is not an easy process, but we are aiming to get your papers back to you in the coming weeks so that you can look over them and identify your strengths and areas for improvement. For your reassurance, all of our departments have fully standardised and moderated marking procedures and they base their marks on exam board criteria. Standardisation is the process whereby where teams begin the marking process by ensuring all teachers are marking to the same standard. Shortly after the exam, teachers will share a sample of scripts and work through these together, or cross check each others’ individual marking standards to ensure they are all in-line. Moderation happens towards the end of the process – teaching teams will look at a range of scrips from across the mark/grade range (so, from A* scripts to those graded E/U) to check that marking has continued to be accurate and robust. Given this, we do not re-mark mock scripts on request, although we will correct any mathematical errors made in counting up marks allocated (i.e. if the marks given have been added up incorrectly).

 

The next Formal Assessment Point is Week beginning 1st February

This is the planned January FAP, but with slightly adjusted dates so that A1, A2 and GCSE can be assessed in the same week. We have had to change the timetable for the week because, being away from college, it is difficult to build in the hour’s assessment as well as any extra time some students are allowed. Normally, our support departments would be able to help with this, but that is just not possible at the moment. So, the week will work as follows:

  • Full time L2 and 3 vocational students will follow their normal timetable for all/most lessons. The only lessons that may not be delivered are where one of your teachers has been asked to supervise another group’s assessment, but these will be rare. Where your lesson is not running, you will be told about this in advance and work will be set. You may have assessments in some of the lessons during this week  - your teachers will inform you of this.
  • A Level and mixed study students (both A1 and A2) will NOT follow their normal timetable. The week will be blocked into morning and afternoon sessions and you will attend each subject for just one block in that week in which you will sit your assessment. Both A Levels and vocational courses that contain an examined element (e.g. Criminology, some BTECs) will give you a timed piece of work for around one hour. You will complete the work in the lesson with your camera on so that your teacher can oversee the work. When the allocated time is up, you will take a photograph of the work and upload it to Canvas immediately at the end of the session. This will record the time your work was uploaded which is important for us to assure ourselves, and you, that all students have completed the work under the same timed conditions. Aside from the assessment time, you will not attend lessons but your senior tutor may wish to arrange a 1-1 in your non-assessment time.

 

The week has been arranged as follows:

 

 

Mon

1st Feb

Tues

2nd Feb

Wed

3rd Feb

Thurs

4th Feb

Fri

5th Feb

AM session:

Start time 9am

Option block A

Option block C

No assessments

No assessments

No assessments

PM session: starts at 1.40pm

Option block D

No assessments

Option block B

(For A1 students, this would not normally be a teaching day, so your teacher will send you a Teams invite to this session).

Option block E

No assessments

 

  • So, a students who studies Sociology in option A, Law in option C and Criminology in option B will have their assessments on Monday morning (Sociology), Tuesday morning (Law) and Wednesday afternoon (Criminology).
  • There will be a minority of A-Level/mixed programme courses where your teachers will teach you in the slot they have been allocated, rather than carry out assessments. These will be subjects that do not assess by examination (e.g. Art subjects, many of our A2 BTEC subjects). Your teachers will let you know if this is the case.
  • GCSE students will sit their GCSE assessments within the blocks we are setting up (see above) but, but GCSE students who follow full vocational courses (either at L1 or L2) should then attend all their vocational classes when not in a GCSE assessment.

This may all look quite complex, but your teachers will let you know exactly when your assessments will take place.

 

Students with IT access issues

We are aware that some students are experiencing some internet issues from home. This could be due to poor connectivity or demands on the home network if family are also accessing WI-FI. The College now has a limited supply of pre-loaded Sim cards that have approx. 30G of data loaded onto them. If students would like to indicate to their personal tutor if they are struggling with connection over the internet at home, then we can arrange to allocate these cards to you for use in your laptop. Again, please speak to your senior tutor in the first instance and the college will fully explain how to use these and organise this for you. 

 

Ofqual consultation

Last Friday afternoon, Ofqual released the consultation documents for both GCSE, AS and A level qualifications, and Vocational, Technical Qualifications (VTQs). Of course, we are scrutinising this closely as a college and will submit a full college response and many of your teachers will be giving their own feeback. Ofqual would also like to hear from students who are affected by these proposals – which is all of you!  It is important that your voices are heard, so I would encourage you to get involved if you feel able to. The consultation documents can be found at: 

We know that this is a very confusing and stressful time, and particularly so as it is not yet clear how you will be assessed in the summer. Although this consultation will give you an insight into the current thoughts of Ofqual/government, a final decision is still some weeks away. In the meantime, teachers will continue to teach and assess you as they would in any other year; our teaching departments are experienced in delivering the specifications and will prepare you for any eventuality and our assessments are well-planned and robust.

 

Important – teachers cannot discuss your likely final grades!

Please do not compromise yourself or your teachers by asking questions about final predicted grades or by asking them to predict you a certain grade. Ofqual gave clear guidance on this last year and are likely to do so this year too; it is not permitted. Your grades in assessments/mocks will inform you of your current performance and teachers can certainly discuss with you how to work on any areas requiring improvement, but please keep your conversations to this rather than asking about final predictions/achievement levels. Many thanks.

 

Online lessons

These seem to be going really well. Attendance levels are high and your teachers are reporting good engagement levels. It is lovely to read your messages of thanks in the chat function; clearly you appreciate your teachers and we would like to thank you for your mature and positive approach to online lessons.

Just a reminder that, to get the best out of these lessons, it is ideal if you remove all distractions (TV  and phone off etc), and position yourself in a good environment to learn/write notes etc. Please also remember that you have signed up to an IT Acceptable Use Policy which outlines expectations of conduct online. Thankfully, we have experienced very few issues with our students in this way, but we are aware that other institutions have had a more problematic experience. Any contravention of our policy would result in serious disciplinary action and a change in the type of online learning we are able to offer. No-body wants this, so we will re-issue these guidelines in the next few days as a refresher. However, many thanks on your continued support for your teachers in this respect.

Just a reminder too that, although the majority of our normal timetable is being delivered, this does not mean that teachers will be directing your learning for the whole of each session. Good teaching and learning involves some independent work on tasks, so some of your lessons may well involve some teacher presence, but also some parts of the lesson that the teacher is off screen while you are completing tasks.

Outside of lessons, teachers will endeavour to respond to you if you need anything, but please remember that they are busy with full teaching loads. If they have a large volume of emails to respond to at the end of the day, this is very difficult to keep on top of. Please try to save any queries you can for class.

 

And finally…

If any of you are feeling the need to let off some steam, the Association of Colleges (AoC) has launched a fitness challenge. The lunar challenge, challenging staff and students in colleges to cover the distance between the Earth and the Moon (238,855 miles!) has just been launched. You can participate by running or cycling and recording your progress on Strava. The links to ASFC’s pages can be found below: 

 

https://www.strava.com/clubs/asfcrunning 

https://www.strava.com/clubs/asfccycling