Since my last newsletter in October, Richmond upon Thames College (RuTC) continues to successfully adapt to new delivery methods to ensure high quality teaching and learning whether in person or virtually. We continue to ensure that all students and staff are kept safe whilst at College and have continued to follow Government guidelines, including from Public Health England, during these challenging times.
Structure and Prospects Appraisal
In my last newsletter I mentioned that I would offer a further update on the Government led Structure and Prospects Appraisal (SPA), which has now been concluded. On 17 November we announced that – further to a recommendation from the FE Commissioner – that we would begin exploring the option of merger with Harrow College and Uxbridge College (HCUC).
Subject to careful monitoring of the day to day impact on our College of managing Covid alongside progressing the work of merger it is anticipated that the proposed merger will be completed by August 2021 once a comprehensive independent due diligence process has been carried out. I believe that this proposed merger is a watershed moment in RuTC’s 80 year history. It will bring together three excellent colleges with complementary strengths to continue providing outstanding education and training to students across a large part of West London whilst ensuring financial stability for the long term.
The SPA process has highlighted a number of positive opportunities achievable from merger, which will provide a stronger and more sustainable curriculum offer, with benefits to learners, staff and businesses across the West London community through greater operational scale, sharing of expertise and resources.
Adapted Teaching and Learning Delivery
RuTC staff are continuously working on adapting delivery models – we are using a range of different teaching and learning strategies depending on the programmes being delivered.
The protocols and safety measures we implemented at the beginning of the term are still in place and the robust process for identifying, escalating and managing Covid-19 cases is also proving effective.
Performing Arts Shows
I am also excited to share the amazing efforts and developments that RuTC’s Performing Arts students and staff have made. In November, Acting Level 2 and 3 students hosted two adaptations of the fairy tale ‘Hansel and Gretel’ through an immersive tour. The performance involved taking two people “socially distanced” around parks, woods and streets near the College and telling the story. This type of performance displays the innovation of staff and students to ensure that – as they say – the show must go on.
Music students have also hosted their first ever online concert live on Facebook on Wednesday 25 November at 6pm and raised over £400 for Dementia UK. Each year, our talented Music students put on a Music Winter Concert and this year was no exception with the audience having the opportunity to see the event from the comfort of their own home.
Dance students are also reinventing their way of performing and are currently creating three short films instead of their usual in-person performance and these will be on our website once editing has taken place.
The View Restaurant
RuTC’s training restaurant and bar, The View, is fully fitted and students have started to use it for their classes to gain professional experience working in a restaurant. Currently, The View is not open to the public due to Government guidelines, but students and staff are eager to open the restaurant and serve customers. Until you can visit it in person, you can have a look at the amazing facilities:
As part of the installation of the restaurant a wall was identified to be used to display students’ artwork. In October our Level 2 UAL Students were given the brief to design and paint a piece of art for a composite mural using a range of printmaking and art forms. This work is now completed and we will be completing the installation ready to welcome customers and students back to our restaurant.
STEM Centre update
Construction of our new STEM Centre is scheduled to commence as planned in early 2021. A main contractor has been appointed and planning on rooms and equipment is underway. The Centre is planned to be completed in the summer of 2022.
Events at RuTC
Colleges Week 2020
From 19 to 23 October, RuTC staff and students celebrated the brilliant things that colleges do every day during this year’s Colleges Week, an annual campaign by the Association of Colleges (AoC). This year’s theme was all about how colleges build communities, boost businesses and support people. Bringing the whole further education community together, the Week celebrated the impact of colleges on people, employers and the economy. RuTC is a member of the AoC which wants to see Colleges and funding for College prioritised nationally and locally in order to aid the recovery from the pandemic that will be vital to the future success of the country. Throughout the week, we hosted two Virtual Open Events, shared details about our new robotics course and STEM Centre, and every day on social media, we shared some of the many amazing activities undertaken by our college staff and students.
In addition, we gave details about our newly launched pre-employment course arranged through Job Centre Plus to give people the opportunity to gain employment in the Civil Service. The free programme is a two week intensive nationally accredited course, started every fortnight. Currently, we are on our third cohort, a total of 50 students have completed it and the programme has resulted in 40% of students moving towards gaining employment with a number of companies.
Feedback from students who completed the course was unanimously positive, with one participant saying that “the whole team have been so helpful and patient. The second week was really helpful specifically for Civil Service jobs and the minefield of applying, which gives me more confidence.” Others commented that it is a “very interesting course – it has given me more perspective and I also learned about myself” and that they “had never thought of considering the Civil Service but this course has given me some clear direction on a change of career using my transferable skills.”
Virtual Open Events
Over the autumn term, we hosted three Virtual Open Events for prospective students, for which we received positive feedback from visitors, one of whom said, “A very professional event which made the courses easier to understand and also get more of an idea about the college.” We will be hosting four more Virtual Open Events from March 2021 and are looking forward to meeting more prospective students.
Lastly, we are looking forward again to our yearly Christmas Card Animation, created by our Creative Media students, which we will share online later in December.
Until then, on behalf of our wonderful College, I wish you all the very best over the coming weeks and hope you and your family stay safe, happy and well over the festive season.