First year students on all two-year 16 to 19 vocational study programmes, such as BTECs, should start returning to college from 1 June alongside GCSE and A-level learners, the government has confirmed.
Last night, the Department for Education released guidance on its phased approach for the wider opening of schools and colleges in the face of Covid-19.
It said that for learners in year 10 and 12 due to take “key exams” next year, “we are asking schools and colleges to supplement remote education with some face to face support for these year groups from 1 June”.
There was no mention of whether this applied to students studying for vocational qualifications, which left some in the sector wondering whether this only covered GCSEs and A-levels.
FE Week has now had it confirmed by the Department for Education that the guidance does apply to a wider pool of year 12 students.
They said that further Education settings should offer “some” face to face delivery for 16 to 19 learners in the first year of two year programmes, and this covers “all 16 to 19 vocational study programmes, along with the first year of A-level programmes”.
The DfE added that colleges will be given the “flexibility to offer a blend of face to face and online delivery – recognising that in many areas online delivery is very successful, while some learners have a greater need of face to face contact”.
Further government guidance on the “application” of the phased reopening of FE providers is expected to be published later this week.
Colleges have been asked to continue the full time provision they are offering to vulnerable young people and children of critical workers, who have been the only “priority groups” able to attend since 18 March.
The guidance for beginning the phased reopening from 1 June states that learners are not expected to return on a full-time basis at this stage, and schools and colleges should “look to minimise the number of pupils in each day”.
They have also been asked to “ensure” that the use of public transport for travel to and from school and college is “minimised, especially at peak times”.
The DfE has set out a range of “protective measures” to ensure education settings remain safe places, including reducing class sizes, staggered break times, as well as increasing the frequency of cleaning and reducing the use of shared items.
The DfE’s guidance can be found here: