Parents' anger over Havant and South Downs College’s 'alternate week' timetable

A GROUP of parents are ‘fuming’ after being informed students attending Havant and South Downs College are to have an ‘alternate week’ timetable.

By Neil Fatkin
Tuesday, 8th September 2020, 7:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 8th September 2020, 10:12 am
Havant and South Downs College
Havant and South Downs College

The decision will see youngsters learning from home every other week.

A number of parents said they were concerned about their children’s education and the impact it could have on studying for qualifications on which university places are dependent.

Paula Williams, whose daughter is studying A-level science, chemistry and maths, said she was ‘fuming’ with the decision and had written to the college to express her concerns.

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Parents of students attending Havant and South Downs College are concerned about the decision to commence the term with an alternate week timetable where students will miss out on the face to face support of their teachers. Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire

In a letter to the college’s vice-principal, Dan Beale, Mrs Williams stated: ‘I’m writing to express my disappointment and shock that my Year 12 daughter will not be back in full-time college in September.

‘My daughter has dreams and needs to get decent grades. How do yourself teach chemistry? As a college in an area of deprivation you should be getting them back in.’

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Mrs Williams also believes the decision goes against the government’s pledge that ‘all pupils in all year groups’ would return to full-time school in September.

She added: ‘When the prime minister pledged to get every student in full-time in September I never imagined you would ignore this.’

In a letter to parents, Mr Beale said the college had taken the decision due to the lack of space required to maintain social distancing.

He stated: ‘Following our recent enrolment it has become evident that we will not be able to accommodate our entire cohort of 1,300 16-18-year-old students at the same time.

‘We are required to ensure that students’ desks are at least one metre apart along with other measures such as enhanced cleaning, hand sanitising, ventilation, students facing the front and the teacher remaining in their two metre zone.

‘Therefore, the capacity in most classrooms will be around 12 to 14.’

With the letter dated September 2020, some parents have been left annoyed with the timing.

One parent, who asked to remain anonymous, said: ‘We didn’t find out about this until the day of enrolment. If this was the college’s intention then students should have been informed two months ago. At least then they could have made a decision as to whether to go elsewhere. Other colleges and sixth forms I know of are back full-time.’

A college spokeswoman said the decision ‘had not been taken lightly’ and had been decided after a ‘rigorous health and safety risk assessment’.

The spokeswoman said: ‘Every single class has been scrutinised and the decision has been based on keeping students safe on campus during a period when the UK has seen a significant increase in Covid19 cases, particularly amongst young people.

‘Many students and parents have welcomed the arrangements for the start of the year and understand the rationale for our decision. Nonetheless, we also recognise there are understandable concerns. Consequentially, our expectation is to resume face to face teaching for all students as soon as possible.’

During periods when students are not in college, work will be set which will be monitored on Google Classroom. College leaders have said they will ‘review the situation in October and modify the plan if required’.

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