As a college, developing a strategy for dealing with the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak involves a number of different ‘phases’. First of all, we had to plan for what might happen in various different scenarios, then we had to devise a way of handling what was actually happening. That action plan then needed implementing and now, we find ourselves planning for how we come out of it at the other end.
It’s all involved an awful lot of work from an awful lot of people and it’s only been made possible thank to good communication and a willingness to collaborate and work together.
Collaboration is something we are seeing more and more of across industries and across professions as we progress through this pandemic, and it is absolutely something that should be welcomed.
Barriers are being broken down and long-held ways of working are slowly being eroded as we embrace a siege mentality and a 21st century view of what can be done when we work collectively as one, rather than against one another.
This new-found culture of collaboration has been in abundance this week, as colleges across the country, including ourselves, have turned our attention to that staple of the education calendar, the open event.
For decades these events have played a crucial role in our recruitment strategy, providing the chance for prospective students to come onto campus, meet the teachers, hear from current students and find out more about the courses they may be interested in.
But, with social distancing guidelines likely to remain in place for some time yet and the prospect of any form of mass gathering a distant daydream – we are having to rethink how this summer’s open events are going to look and feel.
Clearly, modern technology means that a virtual open event is now a possibility and we are busily drawing up plans to switch to an online version that encapsulates as many aspects as possible of the ‘normal’ tours and talks.
Other colleges have already trialled this and earlier this week we were able to sit in on a webinar where we heard from City College Plymouth about their experiences of staging such an event.
Their openness and transparency is hugely appreciated and it’s given us plenty of food for thought. We are now experimenting with different platforms to create what we hope will be the best possible user experience on the day, combining what worked well down in Devon with some innovative ideas of our own.
Other local colleges are doing likewise and we have been in discussions to ensure there’s no overlapping of dates and to create a calendar of events that works for everyone – both colleges and students alike.
These are unusual times indeed and we are all having to do things differently. But that in itself is creating an opportunity to discover that new ways of working can actually improve upon existing models and make us all stronger in the long run.
Talking of long runs, well, long walks – we must end with a special mention for Captain Tom Moore whose incredible determination and lust for life has seen him celebrate his 100th birthday by raising more than £32million for NHS charities. His herculean effort has united a nation and ensures he leaves an extraordinary legacy which will benefit healthcare professionals for years to come.
His promotion from Captain to an honorary Colonel is fully-deserved and he is living proof that not all heroes wear capes. This one wears medals, lots of ‘em. Happy birthday Tom, from all of us at Northampton College.