Coronavirus Update for staff, students, parents and stakeholders
from Dudley College of Technology

The following advice was last updated Friday 27th March 2020, 11.00am

Read the latest update from Neil Thomas Dudley College of Technology Chief Executive and Principal here.

This includes the latest information on:

  • Government guidance on how qualifications will be awarded and grades determined this academic year

  • Financial support for students who access “free college meals”

  • How you can support community/volunteering efforts, responding to the local need

  • Remote working for students

 You might also like to read this user friendly guide Parents’ Guide coping with school closures


Frequently Asked Questions

Section 1: Examinations

Following the cancellation of examinations how will my grade be assessed?

It is not yet fully clear as to how assessments will be made as to an individual learner’s grades. We know that the grading process will take into account a range of evidence including, for example, non-exam assessment and mock results, and the approach will be standardised between schools and colleges. Ofqual is working urgently with the exam boards to set out proposals for how this process will work and will be talking to teachers’ representatives before finalising an approach, to ensure that the approach taken is as fair as possible.

We will inform all of our learners of further details as soon as they become available.

To read the government’s approach to determining examination outcomes, visit www.gov.uk.


Section 2: Key Messages

How can I stay safe?   

We are encouraging staff, students and visitors to the college to take necessary precautions and follow the NHS advice to contain the spread of the virus: 

  • Wash hands regularly with soap and water
  • Cover mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing
  • Refrain from touching face without washing hands
  • Do not share items that come into contact with the mouth e.g. bottles/cups

What should I do if I feel unwell? 

You should stay at home for 14 days if you have coronavirus symptoms. These are:

  • a high temperature – you feel hot to touch on your chest or back
  • a new, continuous cough – this means you've started coughing repeatedly

You do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital unless these symptoms become severe or unless you have existing underlying health conditions.

You do not need to contact 111 to tell them you're staying at home. If you are a student or the parent of a student who is self-isolating in this way, please notify a course tutor of this absence by following the usual procedure.


Section 3: Understanding Coronavirus 

What is Coronavirus (COVID-19)? 

COVID-19 is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways. It's caused by a virus called coronavirus.

How do I avoid catching or spreading coronavirus? 

Because it's a new illness, we do not know exactly how coronavirus spreads from person to person.

Similar viruses are spread in cough droplets.

It's very unlikely it can be spread through things like packages or food and we know that following these simple steps will slow down the spread of the virus

Do:

  • wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds
  • always wash your hands when you get home or into work
  • use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
  • put used tissues in the bin straight away and wash your hands afterwards
  • try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell.

Don't:

  • do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean

What are the symptoms of coronavirus? 

The symptoms of this new coronavirus (COVID-19) include cough, fever, shortness of breath, or flu-like symptoms.

What are the risks of serious illness?

For most people the infection presents a low to moderate risk as the infection is mild for most people. However, it can present a greater risk to older people or people with pre-existing medical conditions (such as diabetes, asthma or heart problems) which makes them more vulnerable to more severe illness.   

What should I do if I think I have been infected and I feel unwell?

You should stay at home for 14 days if you have coronavirus symptoms. These are: 

  • a high temperature – you feel hot to touch on your chest or back
  • a new, continuous cough – this means you've started coughing repeatedly

You do not need to go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital unless these symptoms become severe or unless you have existing underlying health conditions.  

You do not need to contact 111 to tell them you're staying at home. If you are a student or the parent of a student who is self-isolating in this way, please notify a course tutor of this absence by following the usual absence procedure.

When should I call 111? 

Use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service if:

  • you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home
  • your condition gets worse
  • your symptoms do not get better after 7 days

Section 4: General Information for staff, students, parents and stakeholders

What is the college currently doing in relation to the coronavirus? 

The College is acting on advice from government sources including Public Health England, the NHS, and the Department for Education to protect the health and well-being of all staff, students, visitors and stakeholders to Dudley College of Technology.

We  remain open on Thursday 19th March and Friday 20th March and we urge all students to attend their lessons as normal, so they can prepare for the coming weeks. This will include giving all students further details on how their learning will be continued online during the college closure.

Following the most recent government announcement that educational establishments will close, we will be closed from 4.00pm on Friday 20th March, to the majority of students, until further notice.  

What should I do if I think I have been infected and I feel unwell?

You should stay at home for 14 days if you have coronavirus symptoms. These are: 

  • a high temperature – you feel hot to touch on your chest or back
  • a new, continuous cough – this means you've started coughing repeatedly

You do not need to go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital unless these symptoms become severe or unless you have existing underlying health conditions.

You do not need to contact 111 to tell them you're staying at home. If you are a student or the parent of a student who is self-isolating in this way, please notify a course tutor of this absence by following the usual absence procedure.

What about my college work while I'm self-isolating?

If you chose to self-isolate in this way you can access a range of online learning via, Smart Assessor and Blackboard.

Students can stay in touch by accessing their email and other college services using online channels. To remind yourself how to do this read the following instructions: Access Guide to Systems for Students Outside of college.

What should I do about my exams?

All scheduled exams, including mock examinations, will run as normal this week (Monday 16th – Friday 20th March). If you are well you should make every effort to attend.

If you are self-isolating or you are unwell for any reason, and not able to attend any examinations, you should notify your tutor.

We are currently awaiting official announcements with regard to public examinations such as A levels and GCSEs and we will keep you updated.

What should learners do when the college closes?

Learners should stay in contact with their tutor through agreed means. Everyone should as a minimum read their emails on a daily basis.

To remind yourself how to access your email account, read the Access Guide to Systems for Students Outside of college

Tutors will be in daily communication providing learning tasks, feedback and support. You should also regularly visit Smart Assessor / Blackboard and MyDay.

Where can I get more information from about coronavirus?

You can get all government information relating to the virus at: www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/coronavirus-covid-19-uk-government-response

NHS information is available here: www.nhs.uk

Information from the Department for Education is available here: www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-for-education

Who can I talk to about the impact of the virus on my education?

If you are a student who is worried about the impact of the situation on your ability to complete your course of study you should talk to your course tutor.

The Department for Education coronavirus helpline is available to answer questions regarding education. The helpline is open Monday – Friday between 8am-6pm.  The helpline number is: 0800 046 8687.


Section 5: Information for employers and employers with apprentices

What support is there for my business and my apprentices?

Apprentices and their employers are able to access the government’s package of measures to support businesses to withstand the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak.

I have decided to enforce a work from home policy and my apprentice’s classroom provision has been temporarily withdrawn. What are my options?

Ask your apprentice to contact their Tutor or Assessor. In most cases the College is providing a digital or distance learning alternative to classroom delivery or ‘in company’ visits from Dudley College member of staff.

Assessors are continuing to conduct online or telephone assessments throughout this period.

What do I do if my apprentice is not well enough to work?

Employers should follow the government’s guidance for employers and businesses on coronavirus (COVID-19). Where an apprentice is not able to study either because of sickness or because they or their family are self-isolating they should inform their tutor.

I am continuing my business as we are a key service - can  I still recruit an apprentice?

If you are interested in recruiting an apprentice/s please contact nick.thompson@dudleycol.ac.uk or 01384 363 228 for advice on.

The College is closed, so how can my apprentice be enrolled?

Our buildings are closed but your Employer Engagement Manager is equipped to conduct the enrolment remotely. This can be done even if you and your apprentice are working from home.

I was interested in the WMCA Levy Transfer scheme has it now ended?

No – it has been extended. The WMCA Apprenticeship Levy Transfer Fund allows the WMCA to partner large organisations with local small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs). This means that large employers donate a portion of their unspent Apprenticeship Levy Funds to the smaller companies, enabling 100% of their Apprenticeship training and assessment costs to be covered. Dudley College of Technology is actively working with the WMCA and local employers to access these funds. This approach keeps levy money within the West Midlands region, boosting skills, job opportunities and productivity by supporting more young people and adults of all ages into work.

The WMCA has announced this week that it will now extend the scheme to allow ALL APPRENTICESHIP STANDARDS at ALL LEVELS to be supported for Levy Transfer through this initiative.

If you would like to access this funding to sustain work or to take on an apprentice please email or telephone Iain Cole on 01384 363 016 or iain.cole@dudleycol.ac.uk


Section 6: Information for apprentices

If I need to self-isolate, what will happen to my apprenticeship?

Apprenticeships have been designed to be responsive to changes in apprentices’ circumstances, for example during a period of illness. If you need to self-isolate, please talk to your employer and let your Tutor know they will advise you about the best way to continue with your apprenticeship, or report a break in learning.

Options include:

  • an increase in e-learning

  • a short pause of less than 4 weeks in your apprenticeship while you are in self- isolation. This will not affect the planned end-date of your apprenticeship

  • a formal break in learning of 4 weeks or more. This will be reported to the ESFA the funding body for Apprenticeships. This will result in the planned end-date for your apprenticeship being re-planned, upon returning to learning, to take into consideration the duration in line with the length of your break

  • re-scheduling planned assessment activity for a later date.

The appropriate steps will be agreed based on the college’s and you and your employer’s situation.

I need to take care of myself/a family member. Can I continue my apprenticeship learning at home?

Yes, this may be possible, depending on your apprenticeship and whether e-learning is available Please check our website or contact us to discuss your options.

My employer is enforcing a work from home policy and my classroom provision has been withdrawn. What are my options?

If you are unable to attend scheduled learning events, there are several options available to you:

  • in most instances the college can provide digital or distance learning materials for you

  • you can take a short pause if it is likely your apprenticeship can resume in less than 4 weeks, and you will still be able to complete your apprenticeship by the planned end-date

  • you can take a formal break in learning of 4 weeks or more, which the college should report to the ESFA (the funding body for apprenticeships). This will result in the planned end-date of your apprenticeship being re-planned upon returning to learning, to take into consideration the duration of your break.

Please talk to your employer and to your Tutor to agree the appropriate steps for your circumstances.

My employer is asking me to take a period of unpaid leave, what happens to my apprenticeship during that time?

Where you are no longer able to work, but have not been made redundant, you can take a break from your apprenticeship and resume when you return to work. Please get in touch with your Tutor who will inform us of a break in learning.

Once you are back at work, you can resume your apprenticeship, which we can help with too. You should refer any queries around terms and conditions, including wages, to your employer in the first instance.

The ACAS website may also be a good source of information.

What happens to me as an apprentice during a period of unpaid leave in terms of monies. Do I have access to Universal Credit?

Universal Credit may be available for both workers and the unemployed alike, as long as they meet the other conditions of entitlement (including that the applicant and their partner have savings of under £16,000 between them). Apprentices may be entitled to access Universal Credit during a period of unpaid leave. They may also have access to Universal Credit even if they were working and being paid. Being laid off or on a lesser number of hours could increase the rate of Universal Credit entitlement. Apprentices on unpaid leave may also be eligible for other benefits.

Through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, all UK employers will be able to access support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary for those employees that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis. HMRC will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month.

How do I record progress towards my apprenticeship while I am subject to different working conditions like working from home?

You will already be recording your off-the-job training activity using an approach agreed with your Tutor. Please continue to use this in the coming weeks. If your work circumstances change because of COVID-19, so that the minimum 20% off the job cannot be met, you will need to liaise with your employer and your Tutor to agree a break in learning.

My employer is laying me off/making me redundant. What happens to my apprenticeship?

Please speak to your Tutor, if you are made redundant as your apprenticeship training may be able to continue. Dudley College may still be able to offer training, based on your circumstances, in the short term. We may even be able to support you in finding a new employer.

If I can’t work/attend training, will I still be paid?

An apprenticeship is a job with training, so even when you are not able to do your training, you are still employed. You will be paid in line with the details in your employment contract.

Where you are unable to work, we suggest speaking to your employer about their polices on pay. The government is providing a range of support to employers to help them retain and pay the wages of employees (including apprentices) during the coming months.

I am on a fixed-term contract, which would ordinarily have given enough time to complete the training and the end-point assessment (EPA). If the training is delayed, and I have not completed my EPA before I leave employment, can I do the end-point assessment afterwards?

You should be employed when you are taking your end-point assessment so, where a break in learning has been necessary, and the planned end-date for your apprenticeship has had to move back, please speak to your employer and to your Tutor. The college will work with you to reschedule your training, which may also include reviewing your apprenticeship agreement and commitment statement. We will keep this under review as the situation evolves.

What will happen if I am not well enough to take my end-point assessment?

If you are unwell, or in a period of self-isolation, and unable to attend your end-point assessment, please contact your Tutor as soon as you are able, to allow them maximum time to re-schedule your assessment.

Tests must only be carried out within a supervised and controlled environment. End Point Assessment Organisations (EPAOs) must ensure all testing meets security requirements, and that the details of invigilators are recorded and available for confirmation by the External Quality Assurance Provider (awarding body) (EQAPs.)

If the current situation continues for a long period of time, would government/awarding bodies consider awarding the apprenticeship without the end-point assessment?

This would not be considered to be appropriate at the current time. The intention is to safeguard the quality of apprenticeships, and at this time the EPA is an important part of that.

End-point assessment organisations are encouraged to advise the ESFA if they are cancelling or postponing EPAs in order for the ESFA to monitor the impact. The ESFA will be contacting the End Point Assessment Organisations (EPAOs) directly and updating the guidance with further information mechanisms shortly.

Can the timeframe for completion be extended if the completion of EQA activity cannot take place?

External Quality Assurance (EQA) activity should be delivered remotely and continue within current guidelines. External Quality Assurance Provider (awarding body) (EQAPs.) should reschedule audits where this is appropriate.