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Ofsted reviews quality of online experience for students and apprentices at Eastleigh College

In response to the rapid expansion of online education and the proliferation of virtual classrooms, Ofsted (the Office for Standards in Education Children's Services and Skills) is undertaking a national review to evaluate learners’ experience of the online learning available to them. The national review is supported by the Department of Education (DfE) and the cooperation of the Association of Colleges (AoC), the Association of Employer and Learner Providers (AELP) and Holex.

Eastleigh College is one of the 12 FE colleges nationally invited to participate, and the only college from the Solent region. The Ofsted led review is looking at the quality of learners’ experiences of online education in further education and skills settings during the COVID-19-affected summer term. Individual colleges will not receive a report or a grade but the overall findings will be used to develop a national report to inform their future strategies.

The Ofsted feedback was extremely positive

Over a two day period, an Ofsted inspector reviewed the remote learning provided by Eastleigh College in a range of subjects during the Covid-19 pandemic and resulting lockdown. The inspector met with a sample of Eastleigh College managers, teaching staff and learners, whilst also sampling online teaching resources, assessments and tracking documentation. The College’s Supported Learning curriculum was included in the review.

The feedback received by Eastleigh College was extremely positive about the quality of online learning and support in place, with learners reporting that their learning and progress has not been adversely impacted by the lockdown across a range of levels.

The ‘whole-college’ approach achieves blended learning strength

In addition to visiting online lessons the Ofsted review sampled the College’s well established blended learning approach to education where learners have a facilitator or mentor on hand, someone to help with the technology and focus their attention on online educational materials. This combines opportunities for interaction online with traditional place-based classroom methods.

Ashley Vaughan, Curriculum Manager, Electrical, said: “The Ofsted review is a welcome opportunity to showcase the innovative, dedicated and professional hard work that all of our Electrical teaching, support staff and learners have put in over this period of great uncertainty. All our learners have stepped-up in this very challenging time by taking the opportunity to display to future employers that even in the hardest of circumstances they were dedicated and focused on their own development and success.”

Joanne Landon, Curriculum Manager for Professional Studies, Sport, Uniformed Public Services and Built Environment, said: “This has been a steep learning curve in a very uncertain and challenging time. Both staff and learners at Eastleigh College have fully embraced this and worked hard to ensure continued learner success.”

Paul Stannard. Vice Principal - Quality said: “This is a brilliant outcome and a real testament to the hard work that everyone has put in over the last 11 weeks to ensure that no learner is disadvantaged and all have the best opportunity to achieve this academic year and beyond”.

Supported Learning is innovative and creative in the virtual world

The College’s Supported Learning curriculum was included in the Ofsted review. During the Covid-19 pandemic and resulting lockdown the Supported Learning team has sought to ensure all learners with special educational needs and disabilities are well supported and safeguarded, and continue to receive the highest quality of education. The innovative approach taken by the team includes:

  • Maintaining the structure of the regular timetable is being maintained to reduce anxiety and uncertainty.
  • Support staff and tutors are making regular welfare calls to all learners to ensure very close liaison with the safeguarding team is maintained.
  • Learning Support Assistants continue to offer learning support during online video calls, in chat rooms and over the telephone. This provides learners with the same access to a friendly familiar face who seamlessly guides learners to the correct virtual classes.
  • Tutors are delivering online fitness classes, setting home-baking and household tasks and holding telephone interviews.
  • Learners receive resources sent to their homes including seeds for planting tasks.
  • Learners without IT are making use of the FREEPOST delivered resources that the team has made available.
  • The Supported Internship Team continues to deliver virtual job clubs to develop employability skills and prepare learners for the next step whilst keeping communications open with employers.
  • One learner has even managed to gain a paid job through the lockdown period with help from the Supported Internship course.
  • Staff have invited external providers including ‘Can Do project’, run by Leonard Cheshire, to support skills development.

Sharon Baxter, Curriculum Manager, Supported Learning, said: “The whole college approach to excellence and opportunity in education involves tutors, job coaches and learning support staff who all have had a shared focus to ensure that all learners continue to receive a quality education, are well supported and safeguarded. There have been some very innovative and creative ideas to enable this to continue outside of the classroom and in the virtual world.”

[PHOTO BELOW: Ash Vaughan leads a virtual classroom with Oliver Jordan and Sam Cullen who are studying an Electrotechnical apprenticeship through block release. Image © Eastleigh College]