MEASURES put in place to ensure education continued during the pandemic have earned Birkenhead Sixth Form College a national award.
It was presented with the 'Covid: Above and Beyond' by The Sixth Form Colleges Association accolade in an online awards ceremony.
The honour recognises efforts to minimise disruption to students’ education while continuing to keep both staff and students safe over the last year-and-a-half, with national lockdowns and personal safety measures impacting the running of school and colleges across the country.
Reverting to full timetables of virtual lessons for students was the first implementation for the Birkenhead Sixth Form College, as both the safety and education for the 1450 students who study A Levels and BTECs at the college were paramount.
A full programme of virtual enrichment activities, as well as using state-of-the-art software to keep students in regular contact with their pastoral tutors, was quickly established to ensure that the general wellbeing of students was maintained along with their academic work.
Mass on-site testing was also introduced before students returned after the summer holidays, and staff and student home testing has been rigorously adhered to across the board.
Principal Mike Kilbride, said: "It would be amiss of us to say that the last 18 months has been straight forward, but as an organisation that regularly rises to any challenge with ingenuity and innovation, implementing our new approach during this period has been easier than it will have been for a lot of other schools and colleges.
"The students have been exemplary, as have the staff, and to continue to provide young people with such valuable education and experiences with the limitations in place has been incredibly important and is a testament to the wonderful teachers and support staff the college is so proud to have."
Recognising that the current cohort of Year 11s stepping up to sixth form have missed out on a considerable amount of face-to-face teaching, the college has redesigned its entire timetable to allow every student more time with the teachers in every subject, every week.
Mike Kilbride continued: "To simply ignore that young people have missed out on physical teaching time and expect them to be at the same educational level as their predecessors who have actually taken GCSE exams would be a dereliction of duty.
"This timetable change ensures that the students will gain the appropriate foundations in their subjects to manage the jump to A Level and Level 3 study, with the time spent with their teachers being amongst the most at sixth form level in the country, and certainly the most in this area.
"Whatever situation arises and whatever challenges we may face, we will never allow our students to miss out on an education and a range of life experiences that will set them up for a successful future.
"The last 18 months have proved that once again."