Since my last newsletter in June, we continue to live in challenging times. In August, the College introduced online and in person enrolment for prospective students and 2,500 students are now immersed in College life. Our brand new campus is vibrant and it has been wonderful welcoming students back to classrooms. Now more than ever it is important that we reassure our students and staff that it is safe to come onto the College site.
We have ensured the safety of staff and students in two key ways:
1. We have implemented a set of protocols and safety measures at all our sites to ensure staff and students are safe when on campus. These measures include:
- A ‘keep left’ system to keep people apart
- Temperature checks for everyone entering one of the college buildings
- Setting up an isolation room for anyone displaying Covid symptoms while on site
- Regular cleaning throughout the day, particularly focussing on high traffic areas, door handles and stairwells
- Strict social distancing precautions, including reduced class sizes and mandatory face coverings in all communal areas
- PPE and screens provided in some circumstances
- Our Library, ‘Classics’ canteen and ‘The View’ Restaurant having additional protocols to ensure the safety of those using these facilities.
2. We have implemented a robust process for identifying, escalating and managing Covid-19 cases. There is always an onsite point of contact for anyone displaying symptoms or for positive tests to be reported to. In liaison with our health and safety team we escalate the information, when necessary, to the Department for Education and Public Health England so that the latest information and national intelligence can guide us through the required next steps. Our local health team is on hand to support us too.
Should circumstances develop locally, with further safety measures required, we will inform all students and staff as soon as possible. Should there be a need to escalate to a formal closure of the campus we will ensure we safely switch to online delivery - if required - without impacting negatively on the student experience.
College Campus - What is new
"The View" Restaurant
During the summer another new facility was completed: our training restaurant - “The View”. This new facility will be operated by students and we are eager to open the restaurant to customers. The restaurant is located on the 4th Floor of the Richmond building and has stunning views across London and the Twickenham rugby stadium.
Atrium Coffee Shop
Our Coffee shop on the ground floor is serving a range of coffees and snacks for all who come into the building and is a good meeting point for learners, visitors and staff.
Over the summer the college has also been demolishing some of our buildings to make way for the construction of our Phase 2 “state of the art” STEM building - due to commence building in March 2021,to be completed ready for students by the Autumn term 2022.
We are holding 3 Open Events during the autumn term. Due to the increase in coronavirus cases and London being on the Government’s ‘watch list’ we have taken the decision to run these events as ‘Virtual’ Open Events.
Students will be able to register for an event and then have access to our Virtual Open Event platform and the various online materials that we have produced, including: a video presentation by Jason Jones, Deputy Principal for Curriculum and a general overview of the College, its courses, facilities and student services. There will also be specific curriculum presentations focussing on each curriculum area. Students will be able to join live Q&A sessions throughout the event with curriculum staff.
The College’s application system for 2021 entry is now live and we will be directing all students who have registered for an Open Event to our application form.
Our STEM Centre plans will be submitted to Richmond Council this month. The building will deliver workshops for Engineering, Electrical installation, Fabrication and Welding, Plumbing and Carpentry and Joinery. There will be a range of labs for Science, Forensics, Digital Engineering and Prototyping with classroom and seminar rooms for our digital learners. Phase 2 is a brand new, cutting edge space for Science, Engineering and Technology and I look forward to keeping you updated on progress being made.
We continue to work with the Further Education Commissioner (FEC) on improving the College’s financial position and ensuring that we continue to deliver high quality teaching and learning that meets the needs of our employers and stakeholders. The Structure and Prospects Appraisal (SPA) process is due to conclude in November 2020 with a recommendation from the FEC to the College Board relating to how the College should structure its future delivery of education and training, including the option of merging with another London College. I will be offering a further update following the conclusion of the SPA.
On Friday 9 October, Richmond upon Thames College’s (RuTC) staff and students wore yellow to raise awareness for mental health and to show young people that they are not alone with their mental health.
RuTC hosted activities throughout the entire day, ranging from a yellow themed bake sale organised by Supported Learning students, who also painted positive yellow flower pictures, to uplifting live music in the atrium, played by students on our grand piano. We also shared a playlist with staff and students, created to support mental health, and the college’s Learning Centre had a variety of books to offer, focusing on mental health.
Through these activities, RuTC raised £176.44 for Young Minds, a children and young people’s mental health charity. Young Minds ensure that all young people get the best possible mental health support to overcome any challenge.
Marc Dodi, Head of Creative Industries at RuTC, said, “Over the year, we’ve all been going through a difficult time, so by wearing yellow, we showed our solidarity with young people to let know they’re not alone. Looking after our wellbeing has never been more important and the more people who show they care, the more comfortable young people will feel about talking to someone if they’re struggling. Seeing so many staff and students wearing yellow, raising money for Young Minds, hosting a bake sale and playing live music on our grand piano in the atrium have made the day really a success.”
Richmond upon Thames College (RuTC) will be celebrating Colleges Week 2020 from 19 to 23 October.
The annual Colleges Week, organised by the Association of Colleges (AoC), is a chance to celebrate and shout about all of the brilliant things that colleges do, day in and day out to build communities, boost businesses and support individuals.
Throughout the week, RuTC will be hosting two Virtual Open Events on 17 and 21 October for prospective students and will be showcasing some of the amazing work the Colleges’ staff and students carry out. RuTC will share details about its new robotics course, starting in September 2021, and benefits that the future STEM Centre will bring. The College will also showcase its industry standard specialist facilities and how they support individual sectors and give an insight into its newly launched pre-employment course arranged through the Job Centre Plus to give people the opportunity to gain employment in the Civil Service. Every day on social media, RuTC will highlight the importance of colleges in the economy, individual sectors, innovation and supporting young people in their personal lives as well as in their education.
Elaine McMahon, Principal at RuTC, said, “Our aim is to ensure that all our students, regardless of age, background and circumstances are properly equipped with the skills they need to achieve their ambitions in work and in life. This is more important than ever as colleges are there for people to improve their employment opportunities by gaining new skills and qualifications or retraining for a new job in a fast-changing job market.
“The spending review must acknowledge the massive contribution further education makes to society and our economy. It must be the starting point in providing the right levels of investment so that colleges can play their full part in a successful economy as the country recovers from the pandemic and post-Brexit.”
This year’s Colleges Week theme is about colleges building communities, boosting businesses and supporting people. Bringing the whole further education community together, the Week celebrates 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 them prioritised nationally and locally to aid the recovery from the pandemic that will be vital to the future success of the country.
David Hughes, Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges, said, “This year has been unprecedented in every way, but colleges have risen to all the challenges thrown at them. Colleges Week is a celebration of all the amazing things colleges do day in day out for students, employers and communities. It’s also about recognising just how important colleges are as we rebuild for a better future through retraining, skills and education.
“Despite educating 2.2 million people every year, including more than 600,000 16 to 18-year-olds, colleges have been neglected in recent years. The Prime Minister’s announcement earlier this month to expand the training system with colleges at the heart of the skills agenda is welcome. All colleges need now is the investment from government to be able to support even more people and employers. That will improve the life chances of millions of people but it needs college funding to be at the forefront of the upcoming spending review.”
Colleges like Richmond upon Thames College play a key part in doing this. The theme of Colleges Week is building communities, boosting businesses, and supporting people to get the training they need for the jobs of the future, serving local business and community needs.