So, that was Week One of ‘the new normal’.
By anyone’s standards, this has been an extraordinary few days. None of us have ever experienced anything like it before and the speed at which the situation has, quite rightly, been forced upon us has been truly incredible.
Three weeks ago, the term ‘social distancing’ barely even existed. Now it is part and parcel of our daily lives – a rule that we live by and one which dictates how we work, how we live and how we communicate with friends and family.
Nobody could have foreseen the scale at which the country would retreat into lockdown. Difficult decisions have been made and all of us have had no option but to muck in, do our bit and follow the Government guidance.
Here at the college, it is a challenge we have risen to, with impressive results.
The vast majority of our students are now learning from home. Our staff are working remotely. Never has technology been so important, and so valued. It is allowing us to continue to deliver our curriculum programme, with minimum disruption to students.
We have seen engineering students given interactive whiteboard sessions and YouTube tutorials to keep going with their studies. Musical Theatre students have rehearsed their routines and shared video clips of their efforts through social media to piece together a full production. Performing Arts students took to TikTok to document their experiences of remote working. There’s countless other examples of innovation, creativity and a collective determination to keep this show on the road.
At times like this, regular, clear and concise communication is key. In the marketing team we have tried to keep everyone updated as best we can of what is a constantly evolving situation. That means emails, texts, letters, social media posts and website updates for all our different audiences – staff, students, parents, carers, employers and Governors. It’s been a busy few days and we hope we have been able to keep everyone up to date of what we are doing as a college to meet the challenges posed by coronavirus.
Of course, meetings are an important part of any organisation and remote working has brought all our usual get-togethers to an impromptu halt – in person at least. Again, technology has been our best friend at this crucial time and Microsoft Teams has enabled staff to continue with daily briefings to managers and ensure the college continues to operate as close to ‘normal’ as we can.
It’s also given us a refreshing insight into the lives of our friends and colleagues. We now know far more about the interior design choices of many members of staff and we’ve got to meet countless cats and dogs, while toddlers gate-crashing video calls has become a welcome distraction from the usual agenda of weekly team meetings!
It would have been easy to retreat and do nothing at a time of crisis but the college community has come together to make sure we meet this challenge head on. The ‘can-do’ attitude shown by staff and students has been inspiring and long may it last.
We have seen many examples of us truly being ‘the college in the community’. A donation of £500 of Waterstones vouchers will enable new books to be brought for patients at Northampton General Hospital, we have given out food parcels for members of staff who need them the most, while other bundles have been given to vulnerable neighbours and food banks.
It’s this spirit which will see us not only survive this current crisis, but also thrive as a college in the future.