We continue to live through difficult times but I sincerely wish you all the very best for this year ahead.
On our first day back after the festive break, the Prime Minister announced a new national lockdown for England until at least mid-February to combat the fast-spreading new variant of the coronavirus. This announcement resulted in Richmond upon Thames College closing for face to face learning except for the children of key workers and vulnerable students. Our teachers were in touch with all our students to make clear arrangements around how lessons would be delivered virtually. The College is ensuring that all students are taught “live” via Microsoft Teams with attendance recorded in the same way as would normally be the case for an on-site lesson. In addition to these communications, information about remote learning, wellbeing and the support that is available has been sent to students and their parents.
The statement from the Prime Minister announcing that GCSE and A Level examinations were cancelled and a further statement from the Secretary of State for Education that Centre Assessed Grades would determine students’ qualification results has been an additional challenge for students and staff. We have communicated to all students the importance of making the most of their learning during lockdown and what is required for students to showcase their abilities in order to both meet and exceed their predicted grades. We continue to monitor and be part of all the consultation processes that Ofqual and the Department of Education are running.
Lateral Flow Testing
On 4 and 5 January, the College received a delivery of lateral flow device test kits and equipment. We have now set up a testing area onsite to help identify asymptomatic cases which otherwise would not be detected. Staff, contractors and students have been tested in line with guidance: two tests, three to five days apart. 135 tests were carried out in the first two weeks of January and thankfully nobody tested positive.
Richmond upon Thames College received an Interim Visit from Ofsted in November. The focus of the visit was to identify how the College is meeting the needs of students and apprentices during these periods of restriction. We are extremely pleased with the report as it highlighted how we quickly adapted our curriculum to online delivery, how we have supported students with laptops and how we have ensured that both students and staff are safe and supported. A copy of the report is available to read on our website.
Our partnership with Harrow and Uxbridge College Group is developing well as we look to merge and become one new college group at the end of this academic year. This decision was unanimously made by both corporations before the festive period and reflects a positive and deliberate strategy to deliver a strengthened and sustainable offer to our local communities.
This merger will allow the colleges to further develop existing links and bring together two strong organisations to form a partnership of equals. It will allow both colleges to preserve their distinctiveness while building on the individual strengths of each college.
The benefits of this collaboration I believe are clear. The merged colleges will form ‘an arc’ around West, South and Central London that meets local community education and training needs. Together our Colleges will be stronger and better able to develop the potential of our students both during their time with us and into their futures. We recognise that to ensure a successful partnership of equals, communication and stakeholder engagement is critical and we will be launching a Public Consultation in March. Both RuTC and HCUC will be widely encouraging responses and I have already begun informal briefings about the merger with local stakeholders, including our excellent and supportive local MP Munira Wilson. I look forward to continuing these as the year progresses.
The College continues business as usual albeit virtually and we continue to hold Open Events during the spring term, the dates for these are:
- Wednesday 3 March 2021, 5pm-7pm
- Saturday 20 March 2021, 11am-1pm
- Tuesday 20 April 2021, 5pm-7pm
Our STEM Centre plans have been submitted to Richmond Council and we await approval for work to start on-site before the Easter break ready for our students to use the facility from September 2022.
Before the festive break the College launched a 360 degree virtual tour on our website of the new Richmond Building and surrounding areas. You can guide yourself around the building popping into various rooms and areas and seeing all our student service areas, classrooms, kitchens, boardroom, art rooms and other specialist areas – it’s well worth a tour of this amazing building.
Richmond upon Thames College (RuTC) is proud of its 15 students who graduated in January 2021 from the Circl Leadership Programme in partnership with Tails, gaining a Professional Leadership Qualification worth £1,500.
When students returned to college in September 2020, 15 RuTC students from different course areas started their virtual Leadership Programme, organised by Circl and founded in 2018. Circl’s missions is “to build a world where anyone, regardless of their background, can learn to lead. The way to get there is through real world coaching experience alongside the next generation of diverse leaders.”
The programme not only help students to develop leadership skill, but also supports managers to become better mentors. For this programme, 15 RuTC students were paired with 15 managers from the Richmond company Tails, which sells customised dog food. Students and mentors had weekly sessions and one to one calls. Students benefitted from mentoring with support on their challenges and goal setting along with productivity and creativity, whilst mentors from the company gained coaching and leadership skills.
One student commented, "I have been able to develop professionally and personally as a result of the Circl Leadership Programme. Professionally, I do not have much experience and I found this to be very difficult while entering the world of work. The Programme taught me how to build good working relationships and how to act in a professional setting. It has also improved my communication skills and made me feel more confident when speaking to new people."
Other students commented that as a result of the programme, they felt more confident in taking mentoring roles, such as teaching a friend how to drive, and that the programme helped them to push through difficult times in their life. Others found part time jobs through the skills they gained.
A representative from Tails said, "Meeting with a future leader was like a breath of fresh air, it was great to meet someone from outside of my usual bubble. I loved meeting young people with such bold ambitions, with their working life ahead of them."
The University of Roehampton and Richmond upon Thames College (RuTC) have announced an exciting new partnership which will develop new routes to higher education for students in the College, with an initial focus on the performing arts. The partnership will see other activities, including curriculum development and student placement opportunities, develop between the two institutions.
The partnership will have a particular focus on establishing formal progression pathways for students studying a range of arts subjects at RuTC to higher education through top-up degrees. These include:
- Performing Arts
- Digital Media
- Media and Communications
Students at RuTC will benefit from Roehampton’s Schools and Colleges Engagement programme to support their education and career development. This will include subject talks with Roehampton academics, workshops and personal statement support.
There are also plans to provide continuing professional development to staff at RuTC through the University’s School of Education. The partnership will also open opportunities to: explore the shared use of facilities at the College and University and facilitate skills development to support local employers.
Professor Anna Gough-Yates, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Roehampton, said: "This new partnership further cements our commitment to providing opportunities to people from all backgrounds. The partnership with Richmond upon Thames College will provide new opportunities for people to access further and higher education, and will support employers across south-west London, including in the arts and cultural sector."
Annabelle Mooney, Head of the School of Arts at Roehampton, said: "This new partnership provides an ideal for us to harness our respective strengths in the arts. It is particularly exciting to start work immediately on developing new routes for students to develop successful careers in the performing and creative arts."
Dr Jason Jones, Deputy Principal/CEO (Curriculum & Quality) at Richmond upon Thames College, said: "We are delighted to be working with the University of Roehampton in this way and we are excited about the wide range of opportunities that this partnership will offer. With our brand new campus and significant increase in student numbers at Richmond upon Thames College over the last two years, this partnership further strengthens the development, progression and employability opportunities for our students."
Marc Dodi, Head of the School of Creative Industries at Richmond upon Thames College, said: "After a year like no other for the Arts, staff are ecstatic to be partnering with the Roehampton to ensure education and training for the Arts continues to grow during this turbulent period. I am looking forward to developing fresh, new and exciting opportunities with the University of Roehampton to enable future careers for our students in a vibrant industry sector."
Richmond upon Thames College is extremely pleased with the positive comments from their Ofsted Interim visit report (November 2020) on their Covid-19 adaptations, which you can read by clicking here.
The report highlights how quickly the College adapted its curriculum delivery to online, whilst ensuring the safety of students and staff and making sure they have been well supported during this difficult time.
Below are a few of the highlights from the report:
"Managers have issued around 250 laptops to support those students who would otherwise be unable to study online."
"Staff from local partner organisations, including employers, the university and the local chamber of commerce speak positively about how helpful staff at the college have been during the restrictions. For example, staff at the college supported a group of engineering apprentices who were made redundant due to COVID-19. They helped them find alternative employment, or secure a place at university, so they could continue with their careers."
"Many teachers have changed how they assess learners and the frequency of that assessment, so they can gain a clear understanding of any gaps in learners’ knowledge or development, taking action where necessary."
"Teachers and students recognise some of the benefits of the current mix of online and face-to-face teaching. For example, due to smaller class sizes, teachers state that behaviour has improved, and that students make quicker progress as they receive more support. Students feel that teachers support them particularly well, both in lessons and online."
"Staff make frequent contact with students to check on their emotional well-being. Managers provide additional counselling and support services for those students who experience increased levels of anxiety."
"Learners feel safe around the campus, and when working online. They know who to contact if they have any concerns about their welfare or safety."