Online learning

College tutors have praised adult students, many of whom are keyworkers, for completing their qualifications despite the coronavirus lockdown. Tutors Joan Konig-Neville and Sameena Malik who teach the part-time Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools course have been impressed with the dedication and determination of their students who have continued with their studies while also juggling work, home-schooling, and keyworker responsibilities.

The students, who usually attend a Thursday evening class at North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College’s Nuneaton Campus, had to adapt quickly to remote learning with the help of their tutors who have set them work and been in continuous contact during the lockdown period to provide support and clarification.

Students include Claire Doyle from Stockingford who works at Glendale Infant School in Nuneaton as a lunchtime supervisor and has now taken on extra duties as a cleaner. Claire said, “Since lockdown started, my working hours have changed and I have been on a five-week rota, while also home-schooling my ten-year-old child and grabbing any time I could find to complete my assignments. I have really enjoyed the course and feel lost without it now.

“My tutors have been excellent and so supportive, especially as I struggle with anxiety and was concerned at the start of the course that I might not be able to cope. They reassured me and I have managed it all well. I hope to get a job as a teaching assistant at Glendale when an opportunity arises.”

Monika Witman from Coventry is a retail manager at Tesco and has been sharing the care of her five-year-old daughter with her keyworker husband who works in logistics. Monika said, “The lockdown has been a nightmare for our family because we are both keyworkers. I have a young child to look after and I am expecting a baby too. I start my shift at midnight and my husband works in the afternoon.

“To complete my course, I have also been volunteering at Grangehurst Primary School in Coventry and adapting to the new ways of working so it has been an incredibly busy time. I have loved the course and have learned so much. As I grew up in Poland, it has been really useful for me to understand the background of how schooling works in the UK and I have found it very interesting. I would love to make a career change and this course should help me to take my first steps in the education sector.”

Sam Critchlow from Bedworth supports a student with special educational needs at Saint Giles Junior School on two mornings a week, alongside work as an assessor of equine studies. Sam has been home-schooling her six year old daughter throughout the lockdown and said, “I am not very good with IT and so it has been a challenging period for me but my tutor stayed in touch and kept us all on track.”

Alicia Blackhouse from Nuneaton is currently on furlough from her weekend service station. Before the lockdown, Alicia volunteered at a primary school supporting a Year 2 teacher every Monday and Tuesday. Alicia said, “I have progressed on to the Level 3 course and hope it will help me to follow a career that I enjoy. My tutor, Sameena, is a lovely, kind-hearted person who always has my best interests at heart. During lockdown Sam has been amazing and has done everything she possibly can to support us. She even created voice recordings of her lessons that we can access online along with any learning materials that we need for our coursework. Sam also checks in on how we are doing every week through Microsoft teams which has been nice as we get to see everyone from the class.”

The students’ teachers have been impressed with the way the whole group has adapted to learning remotely. Joan Konig-Neville said, “I am so proud of all my students. They have all been faced with unprecedented challenges in their home and working lives and it would have been easy to put their studies on the back burner. They have kept in touch and used their regular Thursday evening slot as a time to touch base and check that they are on track. I wish them all the best in their new careers.”

North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College (NWSLC) is extending attendance at its Nuneaton, Wigston and Harrowbrook Campuses to small groups this week in line with government advice on managing the coronavirus pandemic. The college is operating a phased approach to students’ return starting with increased provision for vulnerable students, as well as final year students including those who can only take technical assessments on college premises.

NWSLC will also welcome back students on vocational study programmes in small groups that will be managed in accordance with social distancing measures. Students will be contacted individually to let them know if and when they should attend.

Marion Plant, OBE FCGI, Principal and Chief Executive of NWSLC said, “It is fantastic to hear that our mature students have maintained such dedication to completing their studies despite the coronavirus lockdown. They have shown true determination and will have put themselves in the best position to progress with their careers in the future. It is heartening to hear how hard their tutors have worked to maintain contact and keep them on track in such difficult circumstances. We are extremely proud of the resilience shown by our staff and students through this challenging period.”

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