The outreach work we do at Go Higher West Yorkshire has never been so important as during the past few months. Covid-19 has affected many groups of people, one of these being disadvantaged students. These young people would have missed out on much needed support and encouragement from teachers and practitioners like myself due to school and college closures unless they had adapted their learning and teaching onto online platforms.
There has been much discussion on the variety of learning styles we can adapt, such as blended and hybrid models. Kirklees College is proud to be a Microsoft college and over the summer we have learnt to appreciate the importance of technology and how we use various platforms to support our learners creatively, evolving to adapt to the current climate and staying positive.
One initiative we ran at the college was offering Level 3 students with the potential to progress onto higher education (HE) some additional careers advice and guidance with a specific aim of informing them of routes into it. We wanted them to explore avenues into HE whether that be university, HNC/HNDs or higher and degree apprenticeships. We achieved this remotely over the phone and via email. Working with C&K careers advisors we were able reach out to 85 students, of which 52 were considering university and apprenticeships and the remainder planning to continue in either further education, part time or full-time employment.
It’s been a busy few weeks preparing for the new academic year. The prep has been especially different this year with online inductions, enrolment and teaching. But we’ve taken this in our stride and are buzzing to start! The college has been working hard to ensure that all our centres are safe for the return for staff and students. As part of their induction programme, students will be required to complete the Covid-19 awareness training to ensure they understand how to keep themselves and others safe around college sites.
Earlier this month, we hosted our virtual HE Staff Conference. This was a chance to gather thoughts and delve into discussions relating to some really topical issues. We had a range of acclaimed presenters from Leeds Beckett University, The Leeds Enterprise Partnership, Teesside University, Yorkshire Accord, York St John’s University and Johnsons & Johnsons. Some of them looked at how outreach has changed over lockdown, designing online delivery and the importance of diversity and BAME representation in education. We also took our attendees on a live virtual tour of our new HE building Pioneer House which is due to open soon. The work in progress to innovate yet restore such a timeless building is truly inspiring.
Looking forward into the new academic year, I’m excited to work on a number of projects for underrepresented students such as Care Leavers, Young Carers, Estranged students and BAME students within the college, local schools and the community. My aim working with these young people is to give them the insights and knowledge they need to make really ambitious decisions about their futures.
Henna Ellahi, GHWY Outreach Officer, Kirklees College