Like the whole country, NCG has experienced one of the most challenging and strange times in our history.
Firstly, on behalf of the NCG executive and all our governors, please let me express my sincere and heartfelt thanks to all of our colleagues for the dedication and resilience they have shown during this time. I am also grateful to our students, parents and partners for the patience and positivity they have shown.
Today, in line with guidance from the Department for Education, most NCG colleges will re-open for students in the 16-18 cohort. As directed, we are prioritising students in the year 12 cohort but allowing the flexibility to bring back other groups of students. All NCG colleges will continue to support those learners whom we cannot yet welcome back on campus and we are working on the further development of online resources and an absolute focus on ensuring that all our staff and our students are working and studying in a safe environment.
Colleagues have been working through our plans to re-open for a minority of learners, but it is not straightforward and, as well as doing our own planning and checking, we are working with the Unions to ensure that we have covered off the questions and concerns that are being raised by them on behalf of staff.
As well as planning for the immediate future, we are also starting to put our efforts into thinking about the new academic year and, in particular, how we can be sure that our Colleges are equipped to meet the needs of our learners, employers and communities when the next academic year starts in September.
The likely global economic disruption that is predicted means that people of all ages will need an even more purposeful college education. In particular we may find find young people being crowded out of jobs by more experienced adults and graduates. We will also likely see older workers suddenly having to re-train for a new career. There will also be a large cohort of young people who will need support to catch-up on their learning after several months of lockdown.
As ever, these challenges have already presented NCG with opportunities. The speed and efficiency with which we have been able to switch almost all of our teaching to online systems will provide valuable lessons the future, even when we return to the classroom.
We are uniquely placed to be able to learn the lessons from this period, whilst also continuing to work with the rest of the sector to lobby for the support FE requires to ensure an effective recovery in every part of the country, ensuring that nobody is left behind.
We will continue to meet these challenges because we are rooted in the communities we serve, because we are a vital partner for employers and civic organisations, because our students will always come first, and because we are all part of one NCG.
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