Week 1 Of Student Isolation In Review

It has been a crazy week at Pathway CTM. We had expected a surge in engagement due to the obvious situation of students not being in school or college, but we had not expected quite the response we’ve had. Our daily webinars that I wrote about last week, kicked off and were supported by 5 fantastic volunteers from our Early Years network. Students (and teachers) heard about topics such as: CV writing, LinkedIn, and how to start a business! We go again this week with 6 more amazing volunteers supporting our online workshop-webinars, before giving focus to specific company and sector examples from wc April 6th.

Increased student and teacher engagement.

We are seeing an incremental rise in our attendances to our ‘workshop-webinars’. Not quite at the level of Joe Wicks yet, but I’m sure we must be catching! Do see the attached infographic showing over 500 student engagements we’ve had from week 1 of our online workshops! In speaking with teachers though, there is a mixed response to homeschooling. With some teachers setting work, where students have to log in each day, only to evidence work at the end of the week, (done at their own pace). Other teachers have spoken of a 0% turn up to live classes using technologies many schools were not quite set up for in time, with one Head of Sixth form stating: “This came rather too soon for us all….we were still setting up remote teaching”. However, we are seeing higher response rates from school and college Twitter accounts, and teacher emails too. This should grow as things settle down after the first week of online setup.

As we understand it, grades will be given to GCSE and A-level students via their teachers, using historic data to predict grades (this process will be audited by an independent body, potentially Ofsted, this Summer). It is expected that there will be a swarm of appeals against submitted grades, as you can imagine. For the student who leaves things until the last minute to cram and nail the exams…this system does not work too well for.

Parents and a fair system.

Many parents are in the dark also, handling uncertain teenagers whose futures are not in their own hands. Some parents we have spoken to have not had any work set for their children by the school/college and the concerns in the divide between private and state schools is hard to overlook. Rumours that some schools are enabling retakes for students who didn’t perform well in their mocks. Surely, with so many inconsistent factors placed on our youth, there will be leniencies on grades expected from universities, and indeed employers? Furthermore, we know that circa 20% of students underperform vs predicted grades due to historic and natural inflation of grades for UCAS applications. Will not having final exams in place this year, increase our dropout rates at Universities, and impact employer apprentice hiring/cohort success?

Community.

From Joe Wicks’ PE classes, Carol Vorderman’s Maths lessons, to David Walliams’ reading extracts; indeed, to the number of people I am seeing now signing up to the ‘Houseparty’ App, we’ve seen a heightened (and welcomed) sense of community. Students have been asking how they can add to their CV’s and do volunteering in this difficult time; and have shown real enthusiasm for suggestions of NHS volunteering, supermarket temporary shift working and indeed being involved with local community groups. The sense of community across our young people, and indeed the country, is inspiring.

Gratitude.

From our 8 pm applause for the NHS last week to many stories about our communities helping each other, especially the elderly. Covid-19 is a time for us to realise the things we do have and are grateful for. The family we do have, our health, etc. One article I read made reference to how it is a privilege to social distance, in having the home and the space to do so vs India’s slums for instance, where there is no such luxury. Furthermore, it is worth reflecting on the images we often see every year from places in Africa via TV show ‘Children In Need’, which reminds us how lucky we are that we have access to travel, food and choice in our normal day to day lives. When we do return to normality, I will try to bring this gratitude with me.

Employers that care.

Finally, thank you to our supporting employer partners, who have done whatever they can thus far to support our young people. From getting involved in our online programme, writing blogs, or, most notably, promoting the support offered by Pathway CTM to students who have applied to their work experience or apprenticeship programmes. Simply because they care and want to do more to support them. With the lack of normal schooling and increased uncertainty, it is great that we are able to work together to provide employability skills and access to The Pathway Programme to more students in this period.

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