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Covid-19 Updates

Update 26/02/21 – RETURN TO COLLEGE WEEK COMMENCING 8th MARCH 

It’s with great pleasure to state, everyone at Discovery College is looking forward to welcoming you back soon.

As you’re aware, Discovery students live in various parts of the Plymouth community, and work in partnership with several schools to deliver your education. The DfE recognised these complexities and have allowed schools & colleges to stagger the return of students from Monday 8th, to Friday 12th March, in order to suitably prepare our sites for your safe return. 

As a result of government guidance and the wide ranging schools we work with, I have summarised the main information you need to know to ensure we all enjoy a successful and safe re-opening below.

1) Remote learning will continue Online up until (and including) Tuesday 9th March.

2) ‘Educare’ provision will continue on site as per normal up until (and including) Tuesday 9th March and will be continued to be supported face-to-face.

3) On Wednesday 10th March, the normal college timetable will resume (face-to-face / onsite), with the respective / timetabled students able to return to college as per normal, i.e. college day start at 9am and finishes at 3pm. Your tutors will contact you prior to your return to re-affirm your days.

4) The delayed start is due to the fact we need to support our partnership schools (on Mon 8th / Tuesday 9th March) with regards to their Lateral Flow Testing (LFT), which is a requirement for mainstream schools to conduct.

a. This will allow the necessary young people to attend their schools and conduct their LFT, before being allowed to return to Discovery, as long as their test result is negative (schools will inform you / Discovery if you have a positive result).

b. Please wait for direct instructions from your local school. They will inform you of how, and when they will be conducting LFT’s, as each school will administer this independently.

c. Our school partnership students will be required to return to their home schools for the 2nd and 3rd tests, so there will be some additional disruption during the first week, but hopefully things will settle from the 15th March onwards.

d. LFT’s are not part of the Governments current roll-out of testing for Training providers / Colleges at present, so there will be no LFT testing at Discovery College.

5) Similarly to pre-lockdown, masks/visors will be an expectation for all our young people and staff to wear. Masks must be worn in lessons and throughout the day in public areas, especially when social distancing cannot be guaranteed.

6) If there is a medical reason why you cannot wear a mask/screen, please let us know (via your Tutor / Student Liaison Officer – Nicole Chapman).

7) The canteen will be serving hot food and snacks as per normal from Wednesday 9th.

8) On your return, students will be returning to their ‘Course Bubbles’, with breaks and lunches continuing to be staggered.

9) All the previous COVID secure systems and processes adopted before lockdown will continue to ensure all students, staff and our community are kept safe, i.e. Hand Sanitisers throughout the building, regular touchpoint cleaning, ventilation of doors and windows etc.

10) Finally, it gives me further pleasure to inform you that there will be ongoing redevelopment / modernisation work of the student toilets and changing rooms on your return.

a. Therefore, to ensure your safety, all students will be expected to enter and exit the site via the rear of the building (the Discovery garden entrance)

I trust this letter meets with your approval and clarifies what will be happening with regards to Discovery College’s re-opening strategy. Hopefully, these communications will give you all adequate time to make the appropriate plans. 

Once again, it gives me and the Discovery Team great pleasure to be welcoming you back shortly. In the meantime, keep safe and keep up all the hard work, you’re a credit to the college.

Tom Lavis
CEO 
Discovery College & YMCA Plymouth

Update 12/02/21

Dear students, parents & carers,

I’m sure you’ll agree, as we approach the end of term we all deserve a well-earned break, especially from the current day-to-day routines of online learning. This particular term has been even more challenging than previous lockdowns, with poor weather conditions, a third lockdown and an OFSTED inspection to name a few. Nonetheless, I’m incredibly impressed by the high-spirits and perseverance demonstrated on a daily basis by both the Discovery Team and our students…they are a credit to us all.

Hopefully, the half-term break will allow us all to recharge and refocus our attention away from education. I’m aware we’re all craving that foreign holiday, trip to the coffee shop, or gathering in person with friends…I’m no different I promise you! However, whilst we are currently not in control of these destinies, we must “Do what you have to do, until you can do what you want to do”. Therefore, let’s continue to stay strong in unison, support each other and get through this situation together.

As you may be aware, we’re awaiting a Government announcement (w/c 22/02/2021) to inform us when schools and colleges are likely to re-open. Naturally, we will inform you of Discovery’s plans as swiftly as possible following this broadcast, so please keep an eye out for updates.

Regardless, I can assure you that our Online Learning support will continue if we remain closed. If any students have any questions or concerns, please message us or contact your tutor.

Once again, can I personally thank you for all your efforts and support, we know this is an incredibly frustrating time for everyone. As always, we will continue to be here for our students, but in the meantime, we wish you a pleasant half-term break.

Tom Lavis, CEO

Update 05/01/21

Please find full details about the implications of the new national lockdown for students here.

Update 04/01/21

Following the government announcement tonight, I thought it was important to update you immediately with the implications.

Tomorrow continues as planned, with online learning as already set-up by your tutors. This will continue until February half term (unless we are informed otherwise).If any student does not have the technology at home to support home learning, please contact Kirsten Puddephatt or Nicole Chapman to borrow a Chromebook.

We are awaiting further information regarding this weeks BTEC exams, but please continue to prepare for them. More information will follow soon.

I am disappointed by this news and apologise about the inconvenience and anxiety this causes us all. Nonetheless, with the national lockdown and the vaccine programme on the horizon, I’m positive we will be back to face-to-face learning soon.

Thanks for your continued support and understanding.

Tom Lavis
CEO

Update 31/12/20

We have updated our staggered return procedure. Now all lessons including exam prep will take place online. Please click here for details.

Update – 22/01/20

There will be a staggered return to college in January after the Christmas break. For details and student timetables please click here.

Update – 19/11/20

Dear students / parents,

Please click here to view a very important update regarding our college closure for 14 days from 19/11/20.

Update – 04/11/20

Dear students / parents

As mentioned in my last update, the Government’s current position is for schools & colleges to remain open during the lockdown, stating:

‘The Government will continue to prioritise the wellbeing and long-term futures of our young people and will not be closing schools, colleges or universities. It remains very important for young people to attend, to support their wellbeing and education and help working parents and guardians. Senior clinicians still advise that this is the best place for young people to be, and so they should continue to go’

Face coverings:
Previously the Government advised us that face coverings were not necessary in educational settings. Since September our position on face masks was optional for students. However, given the current infection rates in the country and in Plymouth, we are now changing our position on face coverings.

Therefore, from Thursday (5th November) it will be compulsory for all students to wear a face covering in indoor communal areas (Staff are already doing this). This means that students must wear face coverings:

· On entry to the building

· In corridors and whilst walking between lessons

· In toilet / changing areas

· In any indoor spaces at break and lunch (except when sat down eating/drinking)

In classrooms:

Additionally, we will STRONGLY ADVISE that both staff and students wear face coverings in classrooms, to protect each other, however we cannot make this compulsory. In the interest of clarity, we will allow plain, disposable or reusable face coverings (reusable face coverings will need to be washed daily) that are secured to the head with ties or ear loops, but NOT scarves, bandanas, handkerchiefs or other coverings.

Discovery College is an adult environment, therefore It’s the student’s responsibility to follow these guidelines. Students who do not wear face coverings and/or who do not observe this guidance will be considered as failing to comply with our health, safety, and hygiene arrangements.

Students who are exempt from wearing face coverings due to medical conditions will not be expected to wear them, but they must provide their reasons for their exemption to their tutor, or provide their exemption card.

I would like to thank you all again for your continued support and I thank you in advance for your support ahead of what will undoubtedly be a challenging term. Whilst I appreciate this is an inconvenience, it’s the best way to ensure the wellbeing of our entire Discovery Family.

Tom Lavis, CEO

Update – 02/11/20

Following the government announcement at the weekend, we continue to live through uncertain times and our thoughts go out to those negatively impacted by the imminent lockdown.

As you might be aware, schools and colleges are currently exempt from the 4-week lockdown, which starts on Thursday 5th November. Therefore, it’s ‘business as usual’ for our Discovery College students and staff.

As it has been throughout the pandemic, keeping everyone safe remains our number one priority, so we will continue to enforce our Covid-secure measures for the benefit of everybody. Naturally, we will review our policies and procedures regularly to ensure we remain Covid-secure, whilst also meeting the ever-changing national guidelines.

In the meantime, we will continue to offer our young people the best educational experiences and support them through these difficult times.

The staff team would like to extend their warmest wishes and support to everyone in the Discovery family.

Regards
Tom Lavis
CEO

Update – 02/09/20

Dear parents and students, we are looking forward to welcoming new and returning students to Discovery College on Monday 7th September.

As you will be aware, once we return there will be a range of measures in place to ensure the college is secure and safe for all students. The Government has recently issued advice to schools and colleges surrounding the wearing of face masks. The Department for Education states that: “Nationwide, while the Government is not recommending that face coverings are necessary, schools and colleges will have the discretion to require face coverings in communal areas if they believe it is right in their particular circumstances”.

Currently, the local area Covid rate continues to be very low and as a college we have taken a number of measures and precautions to minimise risk when our students and staff return (i.e. one-way systems, sanitising stations, social distancing measures etc).

Therefore, presently we will not be making the wearing of face masks mandatory in any area of the College. However, we fully understand that some students will feel more comfortable wearing a face mask in corridors and / or in the classroom and we are very happy for them to do so. Please note that all coverings should be plain in appearance.

We will review this decision continually in light of any updated Government advice and changes in the local situation.We have put key information about our new measures on our website that can be accessed below:
https://discoverycollege.co.uk/new-measures/

Once again, we look forward to welcoming you to Discovery College (Year 1s – Monday 7th Sept / Year 2s Tuesday 8th Sept). If you have any concerns or questions, please contact us on 01752 761012 or email enquiries@discoverycollege.org.uk.Tom LavisCEO, YMCA Plymouth / Discovery College

Update – 19/08/2020

Dear Students,

Unfortunately, we have received communications from our governing body, Pearson, that all Level 2 BTEC results have been held back until further notice, therefore we are unable to issue your results tomorrow as planned.

In addition, all Level 3 BTEC results issued last week are being regraded in line with recent Government announcements.

We are deeply sorry for any confusion and disappointment. Sadly, this situation is beyond our control and affecting all young people across the country.

If you have undertaken Maths & English, your GCSE and Functional Skills qualification results will be delivered as planned, to your college email address tomorrow morning.

We understand that you may be apprehensive about your results and this news, however we want to reassure you that we are on hand to help with any concerns or questions you may have.

Due to social distancing measures, unfortunately you will not be able to visit us in person. However, our phone lines will be open from 9.30am.

Call us on 01752 761007 or 07495406730
Or email enquiries@discoverycollege.org.uk

Update – 24/05/2020

Dear students, parents and carers

During this difficult time, I understand the level of uncertainty and concern regarding our students being able to return to their classrooms. Therefore, I feel it is important to keep you fully informed about Discovery College’s potential plan for our existing students, particularly Year 12’s progressing into Year 13.

I use the word ‘potential’ plan, because as we’ve all learned over the last few weeks, government advice and guidance can change quickly. During this time, safeguarding the health and safety of our students, while ensuring they still have access to our support and education, has been the focus of all our efforts. Therefore, maintaining this balance has been at the forefront of our plans moving forward.

Throughout this period, we have also been working closely with Plymouth City Council and our partnership schools. After careful consideration and consultation, I can lay out a summary of our intended direction over the next few months:

  1. I’m sure you’ll agree, the Discovery College team and our students have proved once again want a credit they are to the college and yourselves. They have worked tirelessly throughout the lockdown, including the Easter holidays. Therefore, as of Tuesday 26th May, staff and students will take a 4-day break (half-term) to re-charge their batteries. However, staff will be on hand to support students if needed, but there will be no structured lessons, or work set. I’d also like to thank all our parents / carers for supporting students at home throughout this time, I’m sure this may have proved challenging at times – well done.
  • In discussion with our partnership schools and Plymouth City Council, it has been agreed that Discovery College will continue to function virtually until September 2020 – the start of the new academic year.
  • Following guidance from our Governing Bodies (OFQUAL, Pearson, NCFE), all our students will be individually assessed for Unit / Final grades by June 15th, in a similar fashion to GCSE and A-Levels. Therefore:
  1. Tutors will complete any assessment gaps in your learning since March 2020.
    1. They will decide your unit / final grades based on their prior knowledge, evidence and existing assessments methods.
    1. External assessments (examinations) will be decided by the governing bodies, therefore Discovery College will have no input on this data.
    1. Final grades will be released on:
      1. Level 2’s – 20th August
      1. Level 3’s – 13th August
  • Naturally, an appeal procedure will be in place (after these dates) and the college staff will support you through this process if necessary.
    • Unfortunately, our college staff will not know your final grade before these dates.
  • The smooth transition of our current Year 12’s into Year 13 is very important to us. Therefore, after the half-term break, Year 12’s will continue to receive regular activities linked to Year 13 examinations. This will be structured in accordance with current timetables utilising Google Classroom & Google Hangouts in the same vein as the last 8-9 weeks.
  • Transition of Level 2’s onto a Level 3 programme is also very important to us. Therefore, after the half-term break, these students will receive weekly contact and activities linked to their Level 3 progression. This will be structured in accordance to current timetables
  • All other students will be supported by our ‘Independent Advice and Guidance Lead’ (Kirsten Puddephatt), who will regularly support our students who are progressing onto University, Apprenticeships and careers. Kirsten can be contacted via email on kirsten.p@discoverycollege.org.uk
  • Our ‘Student Liaison Officer’ (Nicole Chapman) will continue to be a point of contact if any of our students have any concerns, needs or mental health support. She can be contacted on nicole.c@discoverycollege.org.uk

I hope the above information helps our college community better understand our potential re-opening strategy. We will, of course, still be providing support for all students regardless of subject / year group, as and when appropriate.

Should parents wish to forward us information about a change to their present circumstances or want to express their thoughts about our potential plans, please email me on tom.l@discoverycollege.org.uk and I will personally endeavour to answer your queries within 24-48 hours.

As always, the safety of our Discovery College family is paramount in every decision, which is why we have made these choices, therefore I hope you can support us in this matter. All the staff send their warmest wishes and look forward to welcoming you back to the college soon.

Regards

Tom Lavis

Director of Educaton – Discovery College

Email:tom.l@discoverycollege.org.uk


Update – 10/05/20

To all our Students, Parents and staff

I’m sure like me, many of you will have watched the Prime Minister’s address to the nation this evening.

You will have heard the Prime Minister indicating that the government believes it may be in a position to implement a phased re-opening of educational establishments from 1 June, albeit starting with pupils in reception, Foundation, year one and year six (Primary), therefore we’re still awaiting clarity on Post-16 education.

I strongly suspect that tonight’s announcement will therefore leave you with further questions.

Let’s be very clear, all of us want to get our students back into college as soon as it is safe to do so. Our staff have devoted their careers to the care and education of young people – they do not want to see classrooms empty for a day longer than they need to be. However, as any educational leader will tell you, the first priority has to be the safety of everyone in the college community.

As we’ve only just seen the announcement ourselves, I cannot answer all your questions at this moment. I am waiting to receive more information from the government about what this means for our college.

In the short-term, nothing has changed and I will continue to provide further information in the coming days and weeks once I am able to do so.

As ever, thanks for you patience, support and understanding, you’ve all been a credit to the Discovery Family.

Tom Lavis

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Update – 24/04/2020

Dear Students, Parents & Staff

Well done for getting through another week of ‘lockdown’. The feedback I’m receiving from parents, staff and yourselves is great. It’s equally pleasing to hear that the Google Hangouts are making a big difference, with more engagement and fun opportunities being shared – keep it up, this will make a huge difference to your mental health & well being.

On that note, we are aware that this may be a difficult time for some families, and alongside our own teachers and staff there are other agencies who are offering additional support to families. If you’re experiencing anxiety, worry or stress and need to talk to someone who can offer support and advice, then this service is open to Children, Young People, Parents, Carers and Professionals: The Urgent Mental Health Support Telephone line is open now 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on 01752 435122 for advice and support.

We are living through extraordinary times. I am sure in the distant future we will look back at this chapter and be amazed to think we were part of it.

I would again like to say a BIG thank you to the Discovery staff team, all of whom have continued to work tirelessly around the clock to ensure you have access to some great virtual learning activities, we are so fortunate to have them in our Discovery Family – THANK YOU.

Can I remind you all to please follow the NHS guidance if you think you are displaying symptoms of the virus – https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

I do hope that today’s update finds you all well and keeping safe. Staff at Discovery and the YMCA would like to send you our warmest wishes and we all look forward to the day when the College is open for ‘business as usual’. In short, we miss you all!

Thanks again, keep in touch and have a lovely weekend

Tom Lavis, Director of Education

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Update – 13/04/20

Tom Lavis, Director of Education

Good evening everyone, firstly I hope you’ve all had a good Easter break and had a chance to re-charge the batteries whilst enjoying some quality time with your close ones.

Firstly, PLEASE ENTER OUR COMPETITION #LearningInLockdown for your chance to win a £20 Amazon voucher…see details posted below, the staff have done a great job, YOU CAN’T LET THEM WIN!! Just post a picture of yourself learning at home with a few comments regarding the benefits of using Google Classroom, Google Hangouts and our Chromebooks (those students that have borrowed them). Don’t forget the hashtag!

On to more serious matters, as per Government instruction, Discovery College will continue to be closed until further notice. As a College, we are required to follow this national policy, which affects all schools and colleges, to safeguard the welfare of our students and staff alike.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the Discovery staff and our partners, who have continued to provide fantastic support to our young people and their families over Easter.
Whilst we await further instruction from OFQUAL (and the respective Governing Bodies of your qualifications) your staff team have continued to prepare distance learning materials to ensure continuity of learning, so it’s business as normal from home please.

Therefore, a reminder of the current measures in place during this period are as follows:

1. Staff working remotely to continually support students – Including via ‘Google Hangouts’ to offer live virtual lectures with tutors.
2. All students have access to Google Classroom (online learning platform, specific to their course)
3. Digital submission of assignment work with online feedback available
4. Communication and bulletins from student’s tutors as per learners usual timetable (Via Student Facebook Group, Google Classroom and student email)
5. Students who do NOT have access to any home computers will be able to sign out a college Google Chromebook (laptops) to freely loan throughout the closure.

You’ve been using the Google Classroom platform for 3-weeks now, so you should be familiar with it, however, further guidance for parents and students regarding using these tools from home is on our website, or ask you tutor for help.

As a result, there is no reason why your learning will be overly affected at this time. Please continue to follow our Facebook page or visit our website for further updates.
Thank you for your support in this matter, if you have any further queries please email: enquiries@discoverycollege.org.uk

On behalf of the whole team at Discovery College, I would like thank you all for your patience and support at this time.

Tom Lavis, Director of Education

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Update – 19/03/20

Dear parents & students,

As per the recent Government statement, Discovery College will be closed until further notice from 3pm on Friday 20th March 2020. As a College, we are required to follow this national policy, which affects all schools and colleges, to safeguard the welfare of our students.

Certain students will be able to continue accessing our college facilities (CR5 – IT Suite) and direct staff support at college. Students with this access are:

1. Students in the care of key workers (such as NHS, police and delivery drivers)
2. Students with an Educational Health Care Plan (EHCP)
3. Students with an assigned social worker

If a student falls into any of these categories, please contact us and we will discuss with you how we can cater accordingly.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the Discovery staff and our partners who have continued to provide fantastic support to our young people and their families during these difficult times.

We have been proactive in preparing distance learning opportunities for our students to ensure continuity of learning. Therefore, the current measures in place during this period are as follows:

1. Staff working remotely to continually support students – Including via ‘Google Hangouts’ to offer live virtual lectures with tutors.

2. All students have access to Google Classroom (online learning platform, specific to their course)

3. Digital submission of assignment work with online feedback available

4. Communication and bulletins from student’s tutors as per learners usual timetable (Via Student Facebook Group, Google Classroom and student email)

5. Students who do NOT have access to any home computers will be able to sign out a college Google Chromebook (laptops) to freely loan throughout the closure.

Our Google Classroom platform is already used within College and will be familiar to students, however, further guidance for parents and students regarding using these tools from home will be distributed shortly.

As a result, there is no reason why your child’s learning will be overly affected at this time. Please continue to follow our Facebook page or visit our website for further updates.

Thank you for your support in this matter, if you have any further queries please email: enquiries@discoverycollege.org.uk

On behalf of the whole team at Discovery College, I would like to wish all our students and families a safe and healthy Easter period and thank you all for your patience and support at this time.

Tom Lavis, Director of Education