Scarborough TEC adapts to a new way of working
Educational approaches to a new way of working: Principal of Scarborough TEC, Ann Hardy talks about how they have adapted to a new way of working.
2019/20 was another successful year for Scarborough TEC, that included the opening of our new Automotive, Construction and Engineering Centre, part-funded with a £3.345m Skills Capital grant from the Government’s Local Growth Fund; secured through the York & North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership.
When the Government announced the UK would be entering a lockdown in March, with educational establishments only permitted to remain open to children of keyworkers and vulnerable students; we were initially concerned for the futures of our young people and the obstacles we faced in teaching remotely have. I am thrilled in the way in which Scarborough TEC staff and students have risen to the many challenges of embracing a new approach to learning and working from home.
We have quickly learnt to diversify our engagement strategies with a whole team approach to reassuring our students, supporting their needs and a thorough preparedness for the ever-shifting landscape of what the future might hold as we communicate plans for re-opening to students who need practical support in the completion of their qualifications.
Although our staff continually work on the improvement of their digital skills, tackling a whole new approach to working and learning was undoubtedly challenging for everyone in the first few weeks. With only a few days to best prepare our students and staff for this new way of working, we provided as many solutions to working remotely as possible; we trained staff and students how to access software from home, we configured portable equipment to be loaned to anyone in need and we offered a helpline, staffed by a team of experts who were able to resolve any issues quickly as they presented themselves.
Within two weeks of the lockdown we arranged further IT equipment to be loaned to anyone struggling with their home set-up and conducted a survey for all students to ascertain additional support we needed to put in place; focusing on four main topics Safeguarding, IT requirements and support, general wellbeing and engagement with learning, The feedback was incredibly positive, with the majority of students feeling we have put as much support in place as possible and any issues being quickly addressed.
As staff began to teach online we implemented further staff development focused on digital skills during the Easter Holiday. Teams were invited to take part in a number of sessions throughout the day, each designed to teach digital skills, advance knowledge of current and new platforms and promote positive engagement with the technology we have in place for Academic and Support Staff.
The upskilling of the digital capabilities of our staff is an ongoing strategy and has been a key focus for the introduction of a new Learning Technologist post who has recently joined our team. This specialist role gives us access to the latest knowledge and advice from a member of our in-house team who will share the latest learning technologies and advise our staff on innovative practices within the educational sector while supporting their teaching and improving their skills-base.
A key strategy for the Spring & Summer terms, alongside ensuring the achievements of our students, is the engagement of new students for the next academic year. We have had to radically rethink our approaches as the traditional events and activities, which are always popular, are not operationally possible with the current social distancing guidelines.
We held our first Virtual Open Event at the beginning of May; combining our website with social media platforms and video conferencing to provide an engaging overview of life at Scarborough TEC that was accessible to anyone with a smart device. The event drew a wide audience, who might otherwise not engage with our provision, leading to a number applications across a cross-section of programmes.
Our Marketing & Student Recruitment teams now have a number of events planned over the coming months to introduce new students to college life while making sure our current students are prepared to return and engage with learning during the next academic year.
Although it’s been a difficult few months for everyone, across every industry; by daring to take new approaches and being prepared to evaluate the success of the steps we take I am positive of the future prospects for our young people.