Flexibility and safety to ensure student learning and staff well-being.
Whilst the news of the Oxford Astra Zeneca vaccine availability is welcome the short to medium term prospects are still ones in which many people will contract the virus and die unless strict safety plans are implemented.
It is shocking that the death rate has reached over 75,000 and contagion rates continue to surpass those reached in March/April last year. 0ne in thirty people in London have contracted the virus. Thousands have died unnecessarily due to the government’s refusal to listen to the advice of scientists and education unions but instead put the needs of profit before people’s lives.
The government’s latest last-minute announcement to implement a third national lockdown and to include schools and colleges has once again led to confusion and despair amongst all those who work in the sector.
If they had followed the science and union advice, we would be in a much better position to control the spread of the virus and therefore ensure that there would be a lot less disruption to face-to-face teaching.
We would all prefer to be back in the classroom, but it’s not about what we prefer it is about what is safe.
We hope everyone within the leadership team recognises that we can’t rely on government to make the right choices when it comes to staff, students’ and our community’s safety.
We have to take control and act now to protect lives.
As workers in the education sector our priority is to make available the best possible education for our students in these challenging times. We cannot simply attempt to adopt a ‘business as usual’ approach to teaching and learning and the running of the college in general. This would create significant barriers to learning for many students.
We must be able to work flexibly to achieve this aim. Remote working increases workload. We welcome the CEO’s announcement that we are now returning to the ‘willing and able’ approach adopted in the March lockdown and trust that all managers adhere to this approach.
The cancelling of all exams was the right decision. But again, the government, by leaving this decision so late in the academic year, has made it more difficult for staff to put in place the appropriate procedures and teaching resources.
The government’s new slogan of, ‘Trust the teachers not an algorithm’ is correct. But there must be a transparent assessment method that ALL students feel confident will not discriminate against them.
This must also apply at group level too. Last year the centre assessed grade model the group adopted changed up to 30% of teacher’s grades. The majority of which were downgrades. Very few teachers were even consulted about these grade changes.
This can never happen again. We want a transparent and fair assessment system that trusts the teacher and not the algorithm.
There should be no rush back to face-to-face teaching. We must see a continuous decline in infection rates over a significant period before we return to onsite teaching.
If we feel that government or management are making decisions that puts in jeopardy the safety of our students, staff and community we will not hesitate to use our collective strength to ensure their safety is protected.