The Impact of Coronavirus on Students at Altrincham College Sixth Form
Information for University & College Admissions teams
Following updated guidance from UCAS (www.ucas.com/advisers/references), we have explained the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on Year 13 students at Altrincham College in the statement below.
Altrincham College Sixth Form closed on Wednesday 18th March 2020, slightly earlier than the national closure of schools on 20th March, due to staff shortage. As a result, our students missed a total of 13 weeks of face to face teaching time.
Remote learning was initially conducted via ClassCharts and students were encouraged to submit work to teachers via email. This continued until 1st June, from when MS Teams was adopted by the school to provide a four week period of ‘live’ sessions with teaching staff. Although not interactive, the 25 minute sessions allowed students to see their teachers again. Students had one live session per subject, per week. This was complimented with assignments and class work set for the remaining time.
Students were invited to return to school w/c 15th June 2020 and were offered one hour and 45 minutes of teaching time per subject, per week. Attendance was low as many families continued to self-isolate during this time.
We appreciate that most schools in the UK were in a similar situation, however as many of our students come from areas of social deprivation, we feel the school’s closure impacted a particularly high number of our students, who had limited access to suitable technology at home. Furthermore, many of our students have reported that they found it difficult to concentrate and focus on their home-schooling for a variety of reasons.
At the start of the autumn term, it was clear that many students weren’t as well prepared for making UCAS applications compared to previous cohorts. Our programme of higher education activities is conducted in the summer term of Year 12. This year, we replicated these activities via virtual sessions and by email. However, it was noticed that online attendance to virtual workshops was particularly low and not all students responded to their school email.
Missing out on the opportunity to visit university campuses has further disadvantaged our students, who have reported that they are finding the decision making process particularly difficult, with many suffering from ‘virtual fatigue’ and would relish the opportunity to speak to academics and current students in person. We are currently facilitating live chat via Microsoft Teams in conjunction with GM Higher and our alumni in order to address this.
Since returning to school in September, students have been able to gain support and advice with their UCAS applications from our teaching staff, form tutors and career advisers in the usual way.
Mock examinations that usually take place at the end of Year 12 were cancelled this year. Instead, students have completed tests in-class and conducted assessments to allow teachers to submit an accurate predicted grade.
The Sixth Form has been open since the start of the autumn term, with the exception of a week's closure in November. The coronavirus pandemic has impacted a large number of students who have been required to self-isolate. When this happens, work is set remotely for students to complete at home.
We feel very proud of the resilience shown by our students during these difficult times and we wish them every success with their UCAS applications.