Remote learning to stay at Forth Valley College for new term

Students at Forth Valley College will make a cautious, gradual phased return to campus.

By Allan Crow
Monday, 16th August 2021, 1:28 pm
Updated Monday, 16th August 2021, 1:29 pm
Forth Valley College Principal Dr Ken Thomson. (Pic: Michael Gillen)
Forth Valley College Principal Dr Ken Thomson. (Pic: Michael Gillen)

There will be no major change to the way it is operating until the October break - despite COVID restrictions easing across the country.

Staff and students will continue to work as much as possible online and remotely from home.

Priority on campus activities will be for students who need to catch up with course work, or study practical elements of their courses - and for those who may need to come on campus for wellbeing reasons.

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Forth Valley College Falkirk campus (Pic: Michael Gillen)

College bosses pledged a “steady and sensible” approach to return to pre-lockdown operations to ensure the health and wellbeing of students, staff and college visitors.

Regular lateral flow testing will take place, along with Test and Protect measures, social distancing, and face coverings in public areas and teaching spaces.

Dr Ken Thomson OBE, principal, said: “There is no great urgency to suddenly abandon what we have been doing over the past two sessions.

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“Of course, we eventually want to return to some sort of normality, however we want to reassure everyone that it will be in an orderly, calm and responsible transition.”

Dr Thomson said the college had demonstrated it could support students thanks to the rapid development of its online working practices over the last 18 months, and paid tribute to his “resilient, talented and professional” staff.

The situation would be kept under review, and he added: “As everyone will appreciate this continues to be a fluid situation and we do realise that this may not be the start of term that students and staff were expecting and some may be disappointed.

“However, likewise there may be those who were feeling anxious about a return. We really feel that a cautious, gradual approach will be the most beneficial approach in the long-term for everyone.”

The college is also looking ahead with a degree of confidence as it emerges from the challenges of lockdown.

Dr Thomson added: “There have been lots of positives and we have been engaging with staff and students to consider how we use these to enhance our learner experience and working practices going forward.

“The next year is going to be significant for the college and we are well on our way to achieving our vision for 2030.

“There are some really exciting proposals in the pipeline – especially beyond the October break - and I look forward to seeing them rolled out.”

The college’s safety-first approach was welcomed by union reps.

Anne-Marie Harley, branch convenor of the lecturers Union EIS/FELA Forth Valley branch, said: “At the start of this term and beyond, institutions are strongly recommended to implement a greater level of protective measures that go further than the minimum baseline, such as physical distancing and so on.

“The profile of vaccination across the population needs to be taken into account.

“We therefore believe that the approach being taken maximises suppression of the virus while allowing us to cautiously get back to a more settled term with our students.”

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