News and updates

News and updates

11 May 2021

Keeping everyone safe as we move to Step 3

As we approach a critical part of the academic year with coursework deadlines and assessments, I wanted to update you following yesterday’s announcement from Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, confirming that England will move to Step 3 of the government’s roadmap out of lockdown and what it means for us at The Bedford College Group.
 
We have been delighted to see our students gradually return to learning in the classroom and this latest step will mean we can welcome back all of our students completing higher education courses. This means that all students will now be able to learn on campus again and benefit from a mixture of face-to-face learning and practical sessions supported by online learning via Microsoft Teams.
 
Keeping everyone safe through weekly home testing
As always, we continue to follow the latest government and Public Health England guidance, recommending that everyone continues to participate in the rapid lateral flow testing twice a week to help to find cases in people who may have no symptoms but are still infectious and can give the virus to others.  Kits are available from College via Centre Administrators or you can order these direct from https://www.gov.uk/order-coronavirus-rapid-lateral-flow-tests where you can take the test at home before attending College. 
 
To enable us to manage everyone’s safety on campus, we continue to carry out regular risk assessments and where there are any concerns, we do our best to raise these with staff and students. We ask everyone to follow the precautionary measures we currently have in place on all campuses including:

  • All students, staff, and visitors must continue to wear face coverings when on campus. This currently includes when students are in classrooms (your tutor will advise). This decision has been made following guidance from the Director of Public Health that schools [and colleges] should continue to use all preventative measures, including face coverings  to help reduce the transmission of COVID cases in Bedford Borough. 
  • Please wash your hands or use the hand sanitising stations when entering and exiting any building. You are welcome to bring your own hand sanitiser solutions to use throughout the day.  
  • All students, staff, and visitors must maintain the two-metre social distancing wherever possible
  • Do not meet in groups of more than six outside of any classroom environments and please maintain the two-metre distance from others
  • When using catering facilities such as Munch & Mocha and coffee shops, please follow the social distancing measures in place.

If you have COVID-19 symptoms

  • a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
  • a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
  • a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you've noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal

We would ask all students to follow our previous advice that if they are displaying symptoms of COVID-19 to self-isolate and arrange a test using the NHS website or telephone NHS 111 and inform us of any positive test results by emailing Student Services.

Public Health England has issued details on additional symptoms of COVID-19 that have been recorded as early warning indicators of a potential COVID-19 infection and include:

  • an upset stomach,
  • headache,
  • sore throat
  • unusual fatigue

In these cases we would advise you to stay away from College and book a PCR test (https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test) if any of the more recognised COVID-19 symptoms appear (see three main symptoms above). If further symptoms don’t arise and there is no concerns over having been in contact with a potential positive case then you should return to College when feeling well enough. Using the rapid lateral flow tests at home will also help to identify any potential COVID-19 infection.

Reporting positive COVID-19 test results
You must continue to notify the College if you have taken a COVID-19 test and received a positive test result taken at either a test centre or at home using the rapid antigen testing kit. We will need to know as soon as possible so we can inform others that you may have been in close contact with whilst at College.

If you are notified that you have been in close contact with someone that has received a positive test result you should carry out a rapid lateral flow test at home and book a PCR test as soon as possible.
 
Please notify us of your positive test result by emailing the relevant COVID-19 reporting teams as soon as you receive your result, the contact details are:

Please continue to complete all the work asked for by your teachers and tutors for the remainder of your course. Assignments and assessments will continue to provide the evidence we will use to give you the qualification and grade you deserve. 

Information Below Updated: 26 March 2021

We are really pleased with the way that most of our students are adhering to the safety measures we have in place at all of our campuses to make them COVID-safe. We continue to carry out regular risk assessments and where there are any concerns we do raise these with staff and students.

When you return after the Easter break we continue to ask that everyone follows the precautionary measures that have been put in place to reduce the risk of infection as much as possible:

  • All students, staff, and visitors must wear face coverings when on campus, both inside and outside of College buildings. This currently includes when students are in classrooms (your tutor will advise). Whilst teachers are presenting to a class they stay within a designated zone, when walking around classrooms and workshops they will be wearing face coverings.
  • Use the hand washing or the hand sanitising stations when entering and exiting any building. You are welcome to bring your own hand sanitiser solutions to use throughout the day.
  • All students, staff, and visitors must maintain the two-metre social distancing wherever possible
  • From 29 March, no groups of more than six are allowed to congregate outside of any classroom environments and must be following the social distancing rules
  • If you carry out work placements as part of your course, some are expected to reopen from 12 April following the roadmap out of lockdown. Where work placements are not possible, you may be able to complete virtual work placements until the sector re-opens. Please speak with your Work Placement Coordinator or Training Coordinator for more details about the support available.
  • When using catering facilities such as Munch & Mocha and coffee shops, please follow the social distancing measures in place.
  • Residential accommodation at Shuttleworth will be open. It is recommended that students within the residential accommodation follow the strict guidance of limited contact with others from other households and not to meet in groups of more than six from 29 March. Please consider visits between home and residential accommodation, inline with the approach for universities however, catering facilities will not be open over the weekends.
  • For students who travel from across England to stay in accommodation that they have arranged personally such as B&Bs (e.g. NC4M students), if the accommodation is closed during restrictions, students must speak with their Tutor to discuss adapted learning options if unable to travel to the campus and home in one day with reduced use of public transport.
  • Students who study sport and physical education as part of their course can continue and tutors will look to host outdoor sports as a priority and within large indoor spaces used where it is not, maximising distancing. Competitions and tournaments between different colleges are not currently allowed to take place, inline with the wider restrictions on grassroots sport.
  • Our public-facing facilities such as our hair and beauty salons and restaurants are not currently open to members of the general public. Alternative measures are now in place so no students are disadvantaged by this.

Information Below Updated: January 2021

Department for Education and Ofqual Consultation of exams and assessments in 2021

Government decided that schools and colleges must close to most, to limit the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic earlier in January 2021.

Through this joint consultation, Ofqual and the Department for Education (DfE) want to hear the views of students who were due to take their exams, their parents and carers, their teachers, school and college leaders and others who have an interest, including further and higher education providers, and employers. The consultation covers general and vocational qualifications, with this document focusing on the latter.

Students need grades to continue to the next stage of their education or training, or into employment. Grades must reflect what a student knows, understands and can do, and they must be widely understood and respected. In place of exams in summer 2021 we propose that a student’s grade in a subject will be based on their teacher’s assessment of the standard at which they are performing.

Please click below for the relevant consultation documents for GCSEs, AS and A Levels and also for Vocational, Technical and other general qualifications (VTQs) and send your responses to the DfE and Ofqual no later than Friday 29 January 2021. 

GCSEs, AS and A Level Consultation document

Vocational, Technical and other general qualifications (VTQs) Consultation document. 

Information Below Updated: 13 January 2021

The Bedford College Group is in the process of rolling out a mass COVID-19 testing programme for staff and students across our Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire campuses (Bedford, Old Warden, Kettering, Corby and Wellingborough). 

We are looking to develop a bank workforce who can support the delivery of tests at our campuses across a range of different roles, which will include tasks, such as:

  • ensuring the safe and effective distribution of COVID-19 tests to users
  • ensuring the testing process is completed by users correctly and efficiently
  • ensuring that administration tasks are completely to a high level of accuracy (i.e. recording of test results and booking in processes)
  • providing customer service to users, assisting the full testing process from booking on, receiving test through to storage and completion and disposal in-line with company policy and legislation
  • undertaking all mandatory training relevant to the safe performance of the role.

Prospective candidates will need to demonstrate excellent customer service, alongside the ability:

  • to work well as part of a coordinated team
  • to communicate effectively with those being tested and to colleagues
  • to work in a highly confidential manner, respecting the privacy of staff and students.

This is a flexible hourly paid position, the associated rate of pay is £12.50 per hour.  The required PPE will be provided to all candidates to ensure they can work in the safest possible environment.

Existing part-time staff who wish to apply can do so and if successful would receive the rate of £12.50 paid as overtime.  Associates who may wish to work an additional role or are perhaps are not currently working would receive an additional assignment at the rate of £12.50.

For external persons who may be interested, a CV submission will be required, current employees or associate workers can express their interest, in all instances by email to rprince@bedford.ac.uk.


Information Below Updated: December 2020

Students Living In Bedfordshire
For students living within Bedfordshire we have also shared details released by Bedford Borough Council with details about home testing for staff, children aged 11-18 and their household members (click here).  

If you are required to self-isolate
Please watch this video which shows the symptoms to look out for and what to do if you are required to self-isolate - please note that from Friday 11 December the period to self-isolate was reduced to 10 days. 
We continue to follow all precautionary measures recommended by the DfE and Public Health England.

Information Below Updated: September 2020

As you will be aware the government has launched its NHS COVID-19 Test and Trace app available to download on smartphones (for the video on how to download the app click here). We do recommend that everyone downloads this, however, this will not replace any of our internal processes of informing Line Managers or Tutors if an individual is displaying symptoms or tests positive for COVID-19. For more information on the app and to download this onto a smartphone click here.

Over the summer our teams across Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire prepared all buildings on campus to ensure everyone’s safety for the start of learning in classrooms and workshops from September.

Some of these measures include:

  • staggered start times for students across the campus to avoid large numbers at any one time on each site
  • face coverings are to be worn when on any College site – this includes outside and inside College buildings from Monday 28 September 2020.
  • new one way systems where possible around buildings with clear signage and directions to follow
  • hygiene points on all entrances and exits into building and hand washing facilities available across all campuses
  • social spaces are promoting social distancing guidelines from the government with staff monitoring regularly. This includes the coffee shop and Munch and Mocha areas which are set up with spacing and limited numbers of students allowed in at any one time
  • limited access for students who are learning onsite or with booked support sessions
  • classrooms and workshops rearranged to accommodate social distancing as per the latest government guidance.

As part of our commitment to ensuring yours and others safety across all of our campuses we would ask you to follow all of the safety guidelines and any requests from staff.

Steps students must take if they develop symptoms of COVID-19

  1. You must stay at home and start to self-isolate
  2. Inform your Course Manager / Personal Achievement Tutor (PAT) immediately (this includes in the evening and at weekends via email)
  3. Book a test(via options a or b below) if you are displaying symptoms - students must not attend College if they have symptoms and will be sent home to self-isolate if they develop symptoms whilst on our premises
    1. NHS Website
    2. Telephone NHS 119
  4. Provide details of anyone you have been in close contact with if you test positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) or if asked by NHS Test and Trace

Please be aware that you must inform the Student Services team at the College immediately of your test result via email:

What if someone from my household has been advised to self-isolate as a result of track and trace?
If someone from your household has been advised to self-isolate as a precaution after being in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, BUT the person in your household is not displaying symptoms of COVID-19, then you are able to come to College.

How do I know if a student or staff member has coronavirus symptoms and needs to be tested?
The key symptoms are:

  • A high temperature – this means feeling hot to touch on the chest or back (temperature does not need to be measured)
  • A new, continuous cough – this means coughing frequently for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if someone usually has a cough, it may be worse than usual)
  • A loss or change to sense of smell or taste – this means not being able to smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal.

Runny noses and sore throats without fever are common at this time of year and so children, young people and adults with just these symptoms do not need to be tested.

The following comparison chart may be useful to recognise the difference in symptoms.

Symptom

Coronavirus

Symptoms can range from mild to severe

Cold

Gradual onset of symptoms

Flu

Abrupt onset of symptoms

FeverCOMMONRARECOMMON
FatigueSOMETIMESSOMETIMESCOMMON
CoughCOMMONMILDCOMMON
SneezingNOCOMMONNO
Aches & painsSOMETIMESCOMMONCOMMON
Runny or stuff noseRARECOMMONSOMETIMES
Sore throatSOMETIMESCOMMONSOMETIMES
DiarrhoeaRARENOSOMETIMES FOR CHILDREN
HeadacheSOMETIMESRARECOMMON
Shortness of breathSOMETIMESNONO

Adapted from the World Health Organisation, Centres for Disease Control and Prevention

Updated: September 2020

Safe Return to College Video & Booklet

Staff are looking forward to welcoming new and returning students and apprentices over the next week or so. The first term back for learning in College since March will see huge changes for us all, however we are confident that, by working together, we will be able to provide the quality learning experience our students deserve.

Over the summer period a lot of preparation has taken place across all of The Bedford College Group's campuses to ensure everyone’s safety as much as possible but this will mean that we all have a responsibility to follow the guidance.

To highlight all the changes that have taken place watch the video below or download our booklet which includes what to expect on your first day at College or how things have changed if you're returning for the next year of your course.

Results Days 2020

Following announcements during August from Ofqual and also BTEC who made changes to the way GCSEs, A-Levels and other Level 2 and 3 qualifications were being awarded all students have been sent emails to their registered email accounts to keep them up-to-date.

Our exams team are sending text messages once the College has received students’ results to advise them to visit the ProPortal link via Moodle using the usual username and password they use to log on to Moodle/College computers using the following link: https://proportal.bedford.ac.uk/

Enrolment and Applications

Induction packs are being sent out over the next two weeks (starting from today) to applicants and returning students to provide more details about the first day at College including where to arrive, safety guidance for travelling to College and moving around campus.

First week back for students

Limited numbers of students will be on site at any one time to allow for social distancing protocols but we ask that everyone works together to ensure that all students get the most of their first few days.

Campus opening for planning and preparation for September return

All students will notice that central spaces across all campuses have been re-organised to ensure that social distancing is followed. Everyone on campus must follow the signage across each campus to direct students, staff and visitors around the buildings.

From the start of term there will be limited refreshment facilities open on campuses and contactless water machines are being installed.  All catering provisions, including vending machines will be available using contactless payment only.

New social distancing measures:

Last week the government published further updates and guidance for schools and colleges and we continue to follow the latest advice to prepare campuses for staff and students. All students and staff are expected to follow the latest guidance ato make our campuses a safe environment for all.

Some of the most recent developments include the following:

  • There will be an expectation for students, staff and visitors to wear face coverings when moving around campus. This follows the latest guidance from the government, that face coverings are being encouraged around campus buildings except within classrooms and offices. It is important to remember that within catering facilities these should be worn unless eating.
  • Classrooms and social spaces have been reorganised to adhere to the 2m social distancing rules as wherever possible and no one is to sit face to face.
  • Students should not remain on site once their lessons or support sessions have finished unless they have been requested to stay by their tutor or if it is during breaks between lessons. Please remember to follow the social distancing guidelines and if this is not possible you should wear face coverings.
  • Students must not visit other classrooms without prior permission.
  • Students must follow the directional signage in place at all sites and ensure that they adhere to the social distancing rules. Please do not congregate in corridors or reception areas and no one should be closer than a minimum of 1m+ at any time.
  • Students are expected to bring all their equipment and PPE required for their lessons as we do not recommend that equipment is shared.

The latest official guidance from the government can be found here.

Wellingborough campus opening

On Monday 14 September our new look Wellingborough campus opened to students after an £11m redevelopment project.

The project teams based in Wellingborough have continued to work on site safely and will be delivering a campus fit for 21st century learning on time and within budget.

The new look campus allows The Bedford College Group to welcome another 1,000 students from in and around the town to improve the skills levels of school leavers and adults which has been highlighted as one of the lowest skilled areas in England.