All Student Update

20 March 2020 - 4pm

Is our college open or closed?

We have been called upon to remain open to support (through face-to-face delivery), vulnerable young people and the children of key workers. All other face-to-face delivery will discontinue (with the exception of Rural Skills) and where practical and possible, students will be supported to continue learning through remote means.

Who are our vulnerable young people?

We are classifying vulnerable young people as 16 to 18-year-old students who:

  • Young carers, young parents, care experienced and/or have a social worker;
  • Those who have an Education and Health Care Plan
  • Those who are known to our Safeguarding team but do not have a social worker currently.


Who are the children of key workers?

Key workers include:

  • Health and social care - This includes frontline health and social care staff - such as doctors, nurses, midwives, paramedics, as well as support and specialist staff in the health and social care sector. In addition, those working in supply chains, including producers and distributors of medicines and personal protective equipment are included.
  • Education and childcare: This includes nursery, teaching staff and social workers, as the department said these workers are required to deliver their plans.
  • Key public services: Those required to run the justice system, religious staff, as well as those responsible for managing the deceased and journalists providing public service broadcasting are on the list.
  • Local and national government: The list “only includes administrative occupations essential to the effective delivery of the Covid-19 response or delivering essential public services”, including payment of benefits.
  • Food and other necessary goods: The list includes those involved in the production, processing, distribution, sale and delivery of food.
  • Public safety and national security: Police, support staff, Ministry of Defence civilian staff and armed forces personnel are on the list, along with fire and rescue staff, as well as those responsible for border security, prison and probation staff.
  • Transport: The list includes those who will keep “air, water, road and rail passenger and freight transport modes operating during the COVID-19 response”.
  • Utilities, communication and financial services: Staff required to keep oil, gas, electricity, water and sewerage operations running are on the list, along with those in the civil nuclear, chemical and telecommunications sectors. Those in postal services and working to provide essential financial services provision are also included.


Will any student examinations occur after Friday 20 March 2020?

No, all student examinations after this date will be cancelled until further guidance from Government, Ofqual and awarding bodies. This will ensure footfall on our campuses is minimised during this time of recommended social distancing.

We are working with end-point assessment organisations to understand the continuity plans for apprentices who are due to undergo this process in the coming months.

This will be an extremely anxious time for our students and so I ask that, through remote means, you continue to do all that you can to keep our students calm about their futures and engaged with remote learning activities.

Until further information we will do all that we can to urge Government to support students who have been affected by this upsetting situation and to ensure they are not disadvantaged into the future.

Which campuses will stay open or close?

There are a lot of questions yet to be clarified by the Department for Education, regarding how colleges will be funded when we are not able to fully deliver our financial targets.

From Monday 30 March 2020 and until further notice, Kirkley Hall Campus will become the lead site for Northumberland Colleges continued service delivery, including delivery for vulnerable young people and children of key workers.

This means that the following campuses or facilities will close for the foreseeable future from Friday 27 March at 4.30pm to all (excluding some estates and IT staff).

  • Ashington Campus
  • Berwick Campus


How will our vulnerable young people and the children of key workers get to college?

We are working with our current student transport providers to put appropriate transport provision to our lead campus in place. Our Vice Principal Student Experience and Registry, is working with our transport suppliers and will confirm arrangements for buses and taxis, once we understand the overall number of students who will continue to access our services.

What is our position on remote/online learning?

Higher Education students: We have already suspended face-to-face delivery of higher education. However, we are expecting that as with universities, we will continue to deliver remote learning in most instances. Where practical and possible, this will be supported via the appropriate virtual learning environment. Assessments will continue unless a practical face-to-face assessment is required and will not be possible. Where this is the case, we will seek to find alternative means for assessment where possible.

Adult students: All face-to-face delivery has been suspended and we are expecting that we will continue to deliver remote learning, and where practical and possible supported via the appropriate virtual learning environment. Where remote assessments are possible, we will support students to achieve this. Where there are sessions outstanding for hobby or leisure programmes, we will look to reschedule these remaining dates for a point in the future when Government advice changes. Distance learning will continue as normal.

Apprentices: All off-the-job training on college campuses will cease as of close of play Friday 20 March 2020. Our trainers/assessors or skills coaches will not be going to employer premises to support work-based learning, but instead will be using remote learning tools to continue to conduct reviews with apprentices and support off-the-job training, where practical and possible. We will continue to support new apprentices starting, where required by an employer, and so long as we can deliver a reasonable level of quality under the current circumstances.

Vocational students: 16 to 18-year-olds no longer permitted to come on site, other than the groups identified above (children of key workers and vulnerable students) face-to-face delivery to 16 to 18-year-olds will cease from 5pm, Friday 20 March 2020. We are putting virtual learning environments in place where practical and possible, so students can continue learning whilst the college is not available and normal timetabled classes cannot happen.

What happens if I am eligible for free college meals?

Until more information is published by the Department of Education on their proposed voucher system for free college meals, we will be making direct payments into student bank accounts for those who continue to engage with the college and their learning.