Nominated by Dave Courteen, Managing Director of Mosaic Group he said: “I would really like to nominate the College as a worthy champion. I am aware that they have been carrying out the following through this coronavirus crisis and thought it would be good to make you aware of all they have been doing.”

The College has been running an ongoing Thank You campaign since lockdown began, featuring current and past students who are currently work for the NHS with information about them. The individuals have been publicly featured and thanked on the College’s social media channels.

During the week-long national ‘Year of the nurse and Midwife’ the College ran a specific campaign featuring interviews with staff and students who have taken this career path and are working so hard right now and created this special video:

Many of the College staff and students have got involved in the making and supplying of PPE and other equipment – here are a few examples:

A 16-year-old college student and entrepreneur from Shrewsbury, has harnessed the power of social media to answer the call for PPE for the NHS and has started production himself

Student wearing face mask holding S shaped plastic clips

Luke Thomas, from Shrewsbury, is studying Chemistry, Maths and Physics A Levels at Shrewsbury Colleges Group.

Entrepreneurial Luke, said that as the coronavirus pandemic spread across the country, his thoughts turned from making money to helping save lives.

Using equipment from his own business at home, Luke has, to date, produced 1500 S clips for the local NHS hospitals.

“As the pandemic scaled across the nation very quickly, I wanted to give everything I had to help people, especially those on the front line who will do anything for anyone else,” said Luke.

“So, alongside my continued college studies, I have devoted my time to giving something back to those that put their lives on the line, while hopefully improving their future.”

Luke discovered the multiple uses for laser cutting equipment in his final years at Meole Brace School, where he studied D&T.

In order to purchase his own machine, he bought, repaired and sold non-running motorbikes to turn over a profit.

“This profit allowed me to save up enough money to buy a ManTech 600×900 CO₂ Laser Cutter,” said Luke.

“With this machine, I established my company ‘Atomic Verge’ a Laser Cutting & Engraving company. It supplies personalised goods to a variety of clients.”

At the outset, Luke said he had no idea what PPE was needed, so he researched the problem to find out.

“When I first get faced with a problem, I always think big and begin thinking of some kind of massive invention I can design to help.

“However, I have discovered it’s not always the big ideas that make a difference. Sometimes less is more.

“I had no idea before I started what I could do because the aim wasn’t to produce a product to pitch to an audience.

“In this instance, I had to listen carefully to those affected and research different approaches to find what would make the most difference for them.”

Luke discovered he could help by producing acrylic ‘S clips’, used in conjunction with traditional disposable face masks, with elasticated straps which usually attach the masks over the user’s ears.

Luke said: “The traditional design causes absolute agony when the masks are worn for prolonged periods of time, just as NHS workers are facing now.

“The S clip is a simple design that sits on the rear of the head. The elasticated straps which usually sit behind the ears can be pulled behind the head connecting onto the clip. The S clips do the job of holding the straps in place, instead of the user’s ears, therefore saving the wearer a great deal of pain The acrylic material is wipeable and non-porous so suitable for use in a hospital environment.”

Luke was supplied with plenty of material from Shrewsbury Colleges Group to create his clips at home. He also received a kind donation from employees of Technology Supplies, a local supplier he uses.

So far, over 1500 units have already been taken to hospitals since Luke began production a 2 weeks ago.

“I am awaiting confirmation of requirements and feedback from the hospital to see if they need any more or if they can be improved in any way. If there is demand, I will continue to make them,” said Luke.

“Through other contacts, I have since contacted the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital in Oswestry and Ludlow Hospital to see if there is a demand for them there too.”

After successfully making the clips, Luke joined forces with Charlotte Brock, Programme Leader for Art & Design at SCG, and the duo are now looking to see if they should change focus and work on the production of facemasks.

“With the power of social media today, I was able to quickly come into contact with people all over the country/world who are doing their bit to support health organisations such as the NHS,” said Luke.

“Since starting my S clip production, I saw the production of PPE visors being advertised on social media and wanted to get further involved.

“I relayed this back to Charlotte and local supply companies in order to get prototypes created. As and when I hear that these are needed by the NHS, I’ll be ready to start production.

“Although I am still unsure of my final career aspirations, at this time, I hope to become a Chemical Engineer, and this experience of helping the NHS links in very closely with engineering and has definitely made me consider other career options.

“I thrive off being able to use technology and engineering to make a difference to people. While it is very hard to balance my educational studies and run a company simultaneously, I plan to not let anything stop me from progressing both.

“It really is fantastic to see so many people pulling together to give back what we can to those that are helping us, especially in such uncertain times,” he added.

A staff member at Shrewsbury Colleges Group has turned his conservatory into a cottage industry using 3D printing equipment to create much-needed face masks for NHS workers.

Andy Lee, Curriculum Leader for Engineering at SCG crouching next to 3D printer

Andy Lee, Director of Employer Engagement and Curriculum Leader for Engineering at SCG, received a call from the company which supplied the College with its 3D printing software.

Solid Solutions based in Warwickshire has turned its operations to ‘printing’ plastic face shields and supplied the College with the design to join in with the crusade and create them.

Mr Lee quickly went to the College to pick up the 3D printing machinery and plastics needed to make the face shields and returned to his own home near Shrewsbury to start production.

The CAD (computer-aided design) 3D printer follows the software for the plastic component parts needed to create the facemasks.

Mr Lee will post the parts onto Solid Solutions and they will assemble the facemasks, attaching headbands and thoroughly sterilising them before shipping on to health workers, hospitals and local support groups.

“The initial call came from one of their customers – Prusa, which creates face shields,” said Mr Lee.

“These are unprecedented times and it’s necessary for everyone to help wherever they can.

“Here at the College we have both the technology and the materials to be able to help and are creating these items for the NHS for free.

“While College is physically closed to staff and students following Government guidelines, the equipment is not in use and is small enough for me to be able to safely use in my own home.

“It may not be able to be used by students right now, but it certainly can be used to answer the call for this essential equipment to help key workers and frontline staff in the NHS.

“I hope to be able to make 20-25 parts a day. I will continue until we run out of materials to make them. It’s incredible that so many small British manufacturers are turning their operations to whatever they can do to help those on the frontline, fighting this horrendous situation. It’s the least we can do,” he added.

The Engineering Department has seen around £1m in investment over the last few years to install the latest, cutting-edge and in some cases, world-first equipment. This was largely thanks largely to £500k in funding from the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), via its Growth deal with Government to develop one of three advanced manufacturing training hubs in the region. The College added a further £250k investment and with gifts from several companies, including Status Metrology, who put £100k towards metrology equipment and software for the College.

As one of the county’s largest community institutions, Shrewsbury Colleges Group has been doing all it can to support a huge range of people and organisations during the outbreak of COVID-19.

Student at laptop working from home

As soon as the Government made the decision to close schools and colleges, SCG quickly enacted a plan to roll-out home learning for its entire student population.

Students have been provided with work to ensure continuity in their learning and the college moved to online delivery across the wide range of 16-19, adult and Apprenticeship courses.

Teachers have looked at other ways to help the students with their studies, with the College purchasing licences for MathsWatch, for example, a resource for students and staff to use to progress online learning in Maths.

All vulnerable students and their primary caregivers were contacted so the College could ensure these students were either safe at home or were coming into the College to be looked after.

Vulnerable students are continuing to be supported in college where necessary, with staff identified as key workers helping them.

The College has continued to pay bursary fees to students as well as money in lieu of the free college school meals they normally would have received, and students have been assisted in accessing free meals offered by Tesco’s and Morrison’s, for example.

The College is also providing support for other students in the local area. A section of the SCG website has been dedicated to providing learning resources to help Year 11S prepare for the next steps in their education.

Across all of the subject areas offered at SCG offers, fun and interesting articles and activities to help the Year 11 students carry on learning during this difficult time are being posted. The resources are available here.

SCG staff have also answered calls from medical institutions in the town to provide hundreds of items of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

Dr. David Martin, Senior Partner at Severn Fields Medical Practice in Sundorne contacted the College.

Via his wife, Jane Martin, Professional Development Manager at SCG, he put the call out for much-needed PPE and a team at the College ‘raided’ the science labs to find such items.

They were able to put together a package including 85 sets of safety goggles, 2000 pairs of disposable gloves and 100 disposable aprons.

These were delivered to Severn Fields, and the College was also able to help The Riverside Medical Practice in Roushill and The Royal Shrewsbury Hospital with items.

The College has also contacted The Princess Royal Hospital in Telford to offer any assistance.

Dr. Martin said: “I would like to thank the College for the generous gift of protective equipment for frontline staff at Severn Fields Medical Practice. This has been invaluable at a time when such PPE is in short supply and has enabled medical staff to continue to provide the level of care to our patients, any of whom may be suffering without symptoms, from Coronavirus. I would also like to recognise those staff who enabled this loan: Lucy Fuller, Jamie Hopkins, Colin Arndt, Ted Coxon, and Paul Petersohn.”

Amanda Lloyd, Practice Manager at the Riverside Medical Practice, said: “On behalf of the Partners, Management and Staff we thank the College most sincerely for the donation of PPE equipment. We are indeed working in challenging times and as such are extremely thankful for the gesture.”

Hear our Commercial Manager Ted on BBC Radio Shropshire talking about the PPE the college has donated.

Principal of Shrewsbury Colleges Group, James Staniforth, said: “The College may be physically ‘closed’, for the majority of staff and students during these unprecedented times, but we are very much open in every way possible.

“We have taken the advice to close, apart from providing essential assistance to some of our vulnerable students, and our IT department has worked around the clock to establish remote working from home.

“Our students and staff are our priority and we are doing everything we can to make learning and working from home as simple and stress-free as possible. We are communicating with everyone on a daily basis as remote ways of working are established and improved.

“As well as the educational support we are providing, I have been humbled to hear of the quick thinking of teams of staff in the College to help our vital NHS institutions to continue to help people.

“As well as helping out several medical organisations with supplies, the Health & Social Care team identified more PPE from London Road after The RSH put a further call into the College.

“We were able to supply a second round of items including 10 large plastic boxes, more masks, hats and aprons and every pack of laminating pouches and blue tack the College had.”

 

The College has been providing regular updates to parents, students and the wider public via its website to ensure total clarity is given on how the college is handing the pandemic:

medical files being held by a doctor

Statement from Shrewsbury Colleges Group updated on Wednesday 13th May at 11am.

This is an updated statement issued on Wednesday 13th May at 11am.

There are the following changes from the previous statement:

  • Update on the College re-opening following the Prime Minister’s announcement on Sunday 10th May and subsequent Government since
  • Update on vocational qualification grading assessment
  • Update on Apprenticeship work

The FAQs section available here has also been updated.

Following the Prime Minister’s announcement on Sunday, further information has been published regarding the wider opening of schools and colleges from 1 June. Click here for details.

This does not mean that College will re-open for all students and staff from 1 June. 

What we are being asked to provide is some ‘in-college’ contact for some students. This will not be a return to full timetables or students back in College full-time.

We will be providing some support to supplement students’ remote/online education. Remote/online education will need to continue for all students and apprentices. We will also continue to provide the current level of in-college support for our vulnerable students.

The date of 1 June is also the earliest point at which wider openings could begin. This change in national policy remains contingent on the number of cases falling.  At SCG, we will not be moving to wider re-opening unless we can do so safely with proper preparation. We expect to see further guidance to be published by the Government this week.

This is a changing and evolving situation. We will provide further updates as we have more information. Thank you for your continued patience.

Students with exams and assessments in the summer and their parents

New information about the process going forward following the cancellation of exams has been issued by the Department of Education and the Examination Regulator (Ofqual) on Friday 3rd April.

They have also published a letter to students to explain what will happen and to try and answer any questions. Please read the letter carefully here.

Ofqual aims to ensure that the awarding of grades is fair to students and that the process supports their progression to university or into employment or an apprenticeship.

Further details on how the grading will be determined can be found within the FAQs section of the website.

Please, therefore, do not ask teachers, tutors or any other member of staff as they will not be able to give any further details.

If students are not happy with the final grade there will be an opportunity to take the exam in the autumn term as soon as it is possible to do so.

At the time of writing, we are still waiting for final confirmation from Ofqual on how the grading will be applied to the various vocational courses that we run through several award organisation. Ofqual is looking to develop a process which is applied fairly and consistently, so that standards are maintained and all those who use qualifications can continue to have confidence in their value.

As Ofqual has said it will be down to each awarding organisations to determine their approaches and as we work with many different bodies, we will await final confirmation before we take further action on awarding grades to our vocational students.

We will update students and parents as further information becomes available, including details about vocational and technical qualifications, so please keep an eye on our website.

In an announcement on Monday 23rd March 2020, UCAS has delayed the May deadline for undergraduate offers. Students affected by this change will be contacted directly by UCAS.

How will learning continue:

SCG will be providing lessons and guidance for students via online platforms to continue their studies during this period.

Further guidance on home learning for students.

We expect all students to complete their course as this work may be used as part of the assessment process for the student’s final grades. We firmly believe that education is about learning and not just teaching to pass a test and would encourage all of our students to continue their studies to the best of their ability.

Vulnerable students and their parents & carers
We have contacted students who are considered Vulnerable to discuss attending college. If you have not been contacted and consider that this may be the safest option for you, please contact us on pleasehelp@shrewsbury.ac.uk.

The official advice is that Vulnerable students are those students who have a social worker OR those students with an educational health and care plan (EHCP) OR those with safeguarding and welfare needs.

On each day that Vulnerable students attend, we will contact parent/carer to confirm attendance.  If the parent/carer does not receive confirmation but believes that their son or daughter should be attending, please contact Steve McAlinden on sm@ssfc.ac.uk

Students in the first year of study and their parents
Students in their first year of study with us will continue with their education via online platforms. Information on tasks and course content will be available online and students need to contact their course leaders and teachers for further information.

Students who are on practical courses which require a physical presence at college will be advised on their requirements by their course leaders and tutors.

Further guidance on home learning for students.

Higher Education Students
Students studying Higher Education courses with us on either a full-time or part-time basis will continue with their education on an online basis. The Higher Education facility at London Road will be closed effective from closure of college hours on Friday 20th March and until further notice.

Students should direct any questions about their course requirements to their Course Leader.

Further guidance on home learning for students.

Apprenticeships
Following the updated announcement by the Prime Minister on Sunday 10th May, some Apprentices will start to return to work in certain industry sectors. This is only advisable where it can be done safely and with proper preparation.

The employer will inform Apprentices if they are to attend work.

If the Apprentice is not returning to work, then the Apprentice should contact their Assessor for further details and plans for their ‘off the job’ element of their Apprenticeship.

Further information on Apprenticeship and the Covid-19 virus situation

Students applying to SCG for 2020/21 education year and their parents
SCG is still accepting applications from students wanting to study with us in the next academic year (2020/21). We will be working with schools and OFQUAL to determine the best way to assess the educational achievements of students now that GCSE exams will not be taking place.

Any student who was due to attend an interview in college for a place for 2020/21 will now receive an interview via telephone. We will contact you to arrange times.

Best wishes,

James Staniforth
Principal and Chief Executive

The principal appeared on BBC Radio Shropshire discussing how the college is still here for its current students and those hoping to start in September. More information and the clip can be seen here:

Shrewsbury Colleges Group Principal, James Staniforth, has appeared on BBC Radio Shropshire this morning, talking about what you can do if you are in Year 11 between school and college.

SCG Principal James Staniforth

In the interview on BBC Breakfast, Mr Staniforth said the College was” ensuring it gave a clear message to anyone who had applied or was thinking of applying to start in September,” that the College is “here for them.”

Mr Staniforth said the College spoke to schools at the start of the lockdown process and continues to and the College was handling all applications as usual, with interviews taking place over the phone or online. He said the same level of advice and guidance was being given to students about their next steps and what course would be right for them.

In terms of College places being determined by GCSE grades, Mr Staniforth assured parents and students that all students would still receive centre-assessed grades, which would be statistically analysed to obtain a sound result.

The Principal was asked about how the College would reopen by September, and while he said that was still a long way off in the current uncertain climate, he said the College had remained open for vulnerable students throughout.

Mr Staniforth said the “vast majority” of students had engaged with online learning techniques, with only around 100 out of 1600 learners, having difficulty.

“A lot of things need to happen before September to allow us to safely reopen,” he said. “Students and teachers have taken to remote teaching and learning very well. We have a step-by-step plan and essentially two plans in place for September.

“The first students we will aim to support back in College are those who have had difficulty with online learning. We have distributed over 100 student laptops to help those who didn’t have access to one. Teachers are running classes as normal, lessons are streamed and work is submitted, with students, in many cases, being able to get almost instant feedback in this way.

“As a College, we have been learning by emersion as obviously you can’t plan for something like this. We have had to work really quickly to get systems in place to help people and the staff and students have been brilliant. Technology has enabled us to support people so well.”

Listen to the full interview

The College ran a special campaign on social media to offer advice and signposting regarding mental health, in line with mental health awareness week.

Dave Courteen concluded: “Given the above I think they deserve the accolade and I hope you do too.”

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