Coronavirus Updates and Returning to Learning
We are committed to delivering high quality learning to the whole community in a safe environment. We created this page to share up-to-date information regarding our courses and our centres. As we are publicly funded and a local authority service unit, we have to take direction from the Department for Education and BCP Council to inform our decision making about course delivery models, learning centre opening and safety.
If you have any questions about starting learning or returning to learning and how Coronavirus has impacted our services, exams and other curriculum areas please visit our FAQ page here.
New Update - 27 08 2020
Course delivery model decisions:
Our teams are reviewing all courses and making decisions about the best way to deliver these in the safest way. Classrooms have been set up to maintain 1 metre + social distancing and this has restricted the number of learners we can accommodate in classrooms. Decisions about course delivery models will fall into one of the following categories:
- Return to weekly classroom learning where this is best for the learner or subject
- Continue with online learning where this is suitable for the subject delivery and level of learning
- Offer a mixture of 50% classroom learning and 50% online learning where this is suitable for the subject and level of learning. Classes delivered in this way will start with an online session and the group will then be split into 2 ‘bubbles’ – you will attend classroom sessions with the other learners in your bubble.
- Online delivery for the first half term with further decision making in October
Our regular Distance Learning programme is running online as normal.
Job club support is available online including 1:1 online appointments with a job club coach. We will be introducing some face to face 1:1 job club sessions during September. These must be booked in advanced and we are no longer able to offer ‘drop in’ job clubs.
Online 1:1 course and careers information, advice and guidance appointments can be booked here.
We will have some Digital Learning Support Assistants in place for learners who may find it difficult to access any online learning aspects of their course.
You will receive an email within the 3 days before your course start date to advise if your learning is moving online, partly online or will be fully classroom based. We will stagger the start and end times of some courses at our busier learning centres. You will also be advised in your welcome email of your new start time if different to that on your course confirmation. This will be within a 20 minute period of the original start and end time and you will still get the full learning hours.
If your course will be delivered as a blended mix of online and classroom learning, your first session will be online and you will be advised during this first online session of which class ‘bubble’ you are being allocated to and which weeks you will attend the classroom.
If you have changed your email address since enrolling on a course with us, please let us know your new contact details.
Returning to classroom guidance:
We have produced some ‘returning to classrooms’ guidance, please see update below dated 14 08 2020, for learners and ask you to read this now and to check again for any changes just before your course starts.
There is an induction safety video that we would like you to watch before you return to our centres here.
There will be some short videos available to guide you round our main learning centres and show you the safety features we have introduced. We encourage you to view these before you arrive at our learning centres.
You will need to wear a face covering in all communal areas of our learning centres, including corridors, reception areas and toilets.
Teaching and learning support staff will be wearing visors when teaching in classrooms.
If you are exempt from wearing a face covering, please let a member of staff know. You may feel more comfortable showing something that says you do not have to wear a face covering. This could be in the form of an exemption card, badge or even a home-made sign. More useful information can be found here.
For full details of the returning to classrooms guidance for learners, please take 10 minutes to read this information and watch the safety video.
There is a Covid-19 risk assessment for each learning centre and your tutor will advise you of the key features of these risk assessments so that you understand the control measures in place.
Reception opening times: Last updated 27/8/20
Our Oakdale Centre Reception is open Mondays, Wednesdays & Fridays from 9.30am to 4.30pm. There will be a queuing system in place to restrict numbers within the reception area.
Our Bournemouth Indoor Bowling Centre reception is open Tuesdays & Thursdays from 9:30 – 4:30pm.
The reception areas at Blandford Learning Centre, Dorchester Library & Learning Centre and Weymouth Library & Learning Centre remain closed until further notice.
Our phone lines are open from 9 – 5 Monday – Thursday and 9 – 4:30 on Friday on 01202 262300.
You can email us on email@example.com or you can use the live chat facility on this website during the times our phone lines are open.
Please note: Unless you are attending a course, exam or appointment the rest of our learning centres, including the toilets, are closed for public access. All payments will need to be undertaken by card, we cannot accept cash payments. We will keep our website updated as and when we open more centres, so please check our Returning to Learning page and contact us page.
From 7th September we expect to have our reception areas open as advertised in our brochure but please check this page for further updates.
To reduce pressure on our reception areas and to maintain social distancing, please do consider using either our website for enrolling or call our Customer Support Team on 01202 262300. We kindly ask that you avoid coming to our reception areas with children, friends or other family members unless they are your carer.
We are excited to be welcoming you back for the new academic year and we thank you in advance for your support and patience during the initial weeks of returning to learning in a safe and different way.
‘Returning to Classrooms’ update 14/8/2020
Here at Skills & Learning we have been working hard to make our centres Covid-secure so we can welcome you back to the classroom safely.
We have introduced…
- Regular cleaning routines at the learning centres we use
- Cleaning equipment so you can clean your space before and after your session
- Hand sanitising stations and Perspex screens where appropriate
- Stewards in our busiest centres to help you follow the guidelines
- Signage to support social distancing and queuing to help maintain a 2-metre distance
- Learning packs that include a pen and paper for those who cannot bring their own
- Track and Trace alerting where possible – we will share track and trace information as appropriate
- Staggered start and break times to ensure social distancing can always be maintained – if you require additional breaks you will need agreement from a staff member
- Class social bubbles. This means you need to remain in your own classroom or bubble unless using the toilets. Do not visit other classes or congregate with friends in other areas.
We have removed…
- Shared equipment such as pens, please bring your own pens and paper where possible
- Paper leaflets and brochures, please ask reception for a copy of our brochure
- Access to social areas. It is likely that refreshments, including vending machines, will be unavailable for the time being so please bring your own
What do we expect from you?
- Although we have made our buildings as Covid-secure as possible we need you to always follow our guidelines to keep yourself, other learners and our staff safe. Please…
- Wash your hands, or use the hand sanitiser provided, on arrival at any of our centres and as often as possible
- Do not attend our learning centres if you feel unwell with any COVID-19 symptoms – these include a new continuous cough, a high temperature, a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste
- Advise us as soon as possible if you have attended a class and then develop COVID-19 symptoms within 2 weeks of attending. You must follow the testing guidance and inform us if your test results are positive
- Wear a face covering in communal areas of our learning centres, including hired premises. Communal areas include corridors, toilets, reception areas and refreshment areas
- Keep left in corridors and staircases, follow our signage to keep your distance
- Refrain from using lifts where possible. If you do need to use a lift, there should only be one person in the lift at any time
- Arrive no more than 5 minutes before your class/appointment start time to avoid congestion and queuing in corridors
- Sit at least 1 metre apart from others in the classroom and more when possible
- Bring your own equipment where possible, we will have a limited supply of learning packs to provide pens and paper to learners who cannot bring their own…
- …and only bring the essentials. We have limited storage at our centres so please bring only what you need and take all of your belongings home
- Avoid raising your voice, singing or shouting in our centres and classrooms
- Avoid congregating in smoking areas, especially with other learners from outside your class bubble
- Use contactless payments whenever possible, we cannot accept cash or cheque payments
- Arrive no more than 5 minutes before your class/appointment start time to avoid congestion and queuing in corridors. You should go straight to your classroom when you arrive and not wait in corridors or reception areas. If you do arrive earlier than 5 minutes before your session due to public transport, please wait outside the building until 5 mins before your session and then go straight to your classroom.
- Please avoid waiting to speak to customer service staff at reception desks by using email or the phone to make your enquiry. You can contact us here.
Remember, it is okay to say if it’s not okay. Should you at any point feel unsafe or at risk please let us know. We are doing everything we can to ensure everyone’s safety is always met.
- Café, refreshment and social areas remain closed. You should bring any refreshments you may want with you and remember to take everything home with you afterwards
- Some doors may be left open to reduce contact points
- There may be a one way system around the learning centre you attend – you may enter and leave through different doors
- We continue to follow government guidance on face coverings within education settings. We currently ask that face coverings are worn in the communal areas of our learning centres
- You may be asked to leave a classroom or premises if you do not comply with the safety measures we have introduced or if you display symptoms of COVID-19
- If you are exempt from wearing a face covering, we ask you to make this known to your tutor or another appropriate member of staff. You may prefer to wear a lanyard or other form of identification to indicate this exemption
- Classrooms have been set up to allow for adequate social distancing – please do not re-arrange classroom furniture
- Models of course delivery may vary from what was shown in our brochure or original course information. More content will be delivered online to allow us to control class sizes for safe social distancing
Please check our website for the most up to date information about our safety measures and the particular learning centre you will be attending.
You may be asked to complete a short survey about how you found your return to our learning centres so that we can monitor if our safety measures are appropriate.
If you have any queries or feedback, you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 01202 262300.
A updated message from our Principal Learning Manager - 06.07.2020
Skills & Learning Service Update 06/07/2020
We hope you are all safe & well and making the most of the easing of lockdown and getting back to some sort of normality.
Many of you will have now received our 2020/21 brochure, if not you can download a copy here. Our phones lines are open (01202 262300) and staff are at the end of the line to support you. You can also search our courses online – you will be able to enrol on some of these courses directly whilst others may require you to complete an application form. As a result of the coronavirus we will be offering more course content online in 2020/21 which may slightly alter the structure of some courses and would allow us to quickly move over to non-contact teaching if needed during the academic year. We will ensure that our website provides you with up to date information as far as possible. However, all being well, we are very much hoping to welcome you back into our centres for classes from September and we are working hard to ensure our centres will be as safe as possible.
In the meantime, we have taken the first steps in re-opening one of our reception desks – at the Oakdale Centre. This will be from Wednesday 8th July, and on Mondays, Wednesdays & Fridays weekly thereafter. The reception area will be open from 9.30am to 4.30pm. There will be a queuing system in place to restrict numbers within the reception area. Please note: the rest of the building, including the toilets, are closed for public access. All payments will need to be undertaken by card, we cannot accept cash payments. All other centres remain closed, however, we will update you as and when other centres start to re-open.
In order to reduce pressure on the reception we would ask you to consider using either our website for enrolling or call our Customer Support Team on 01202 262300.
As a reminder – we have lots of opportunities for you to get confident with your digital skills, including support from digital mentors. Ask us about how we can help. You can also arrange an online or telephone appointment with our Progression Officer to help you plan for your next steps here. We are continuing with our growing range of new learning opportunities including our online job club and our ‘Keep Learning, Keep Well’ programme.
Our priority is to keep you learning and keep you well.
Lesley Spain – Principal Learning Manager
A updated message from our Principal Learning Manager - 21.05.2020
Skills & Learning Service Update 21/5/20
To our learners and partners,
Although we are starting to see some green shoots of recovery and the phased easing of lockdown, we will continue to deliver our adult and community learning programme online until at least the end of July 2020 and will not yet be returning to our centres or classrooms. In addition to the courses that have moved online since lockdown, we also have a growing range of new learning opportunities including our online job club and our ‘Keep Learning, Keep Well’ programme.
Our 2020/21 brochure is scheduled for delivery towards the end of June. The programme will also go live on our website at this time. Due to the time of year our programme is designed and the brochure is produced, course dates, term dates and delivery methods are subject to change in accordance with Government guidance regarding the Coronavirus pandemic and possible social distancing requirements. At the time of publishing, we are expecting that some courses may either be delayed until January 2021 or may start with online delivery before classroom delivery can begin.
We are continuing to develop more online content and alternative delivery models and want to reassure you that we are still here and still offering a wide range of learning opportunities, even if they look a little different to what you may be expecting.
Our website will be the most up to date information source so please continue to check this regularly to see if the course you would like to enrol on is still available on the listed dates and times or if there is an alternative approach to studying available. We apologise for any inconvenience and are grateful for your understanding. On the website, you will also find details of new courses available throughout the year which were still being developed at the time of publishing the 20/21 programme.
We will be offering more course content online in 2020/21 which may slightly alter the structure of some courses and would allow us to quickly move over to non-contact teaching if needed during the academic year. If you are concerned about this, we have lots of opportunities for you to get confident with your digital skills, including support from digital mentors. Ask us about how we can help. You can also arrange an online or telephone appointment with our Progression Officer to help you plan for your next steps.
Our priority is to keep you learning and keep you well.
Lesley Spain – Principal Learning Manager
A message from our Principal Learning Manager - 23.03.2020
Skills and Learning is under the government’s directive to close classroom-based provision from Monday 23rd March 2020 until further notice. Cancellations also apply to all examinations including GCSEs and Functional Skills.
We appreciate how disruptive and unsettling this to your learning journey, however the exam regulator Ofqual and the examination boards will be consulting with tutors to provide grades for learners affected by the exam cancellations this summer. The government is keen that no learner is disadvantaged from progressing to the next stage of their learning or career journey.
Whilst recent events will be hugely disruptive, our service is looking ahead and planning the course offer for the next academic year. We will publish our brochure and course provision on our website from June, so keep an eye out for learning opportunities that will help you in life, work and health.
We, like all public services and business, are having to change the way we work to sustain a level of service delivery for you to keep learning. We are moving more courses online and you will hear from your tutor if this applies to your course. Our admissions sessions for our 2020/21 qualification and functional skills courses are planned to take place in June, subject to the national situation. In the meantime, we will be preparing for holding more online or telephone interviews should the situation change.
Finally, please stay safe and follow the government’s advice. If you have any questions or queries, please email our Customer Service Team on: email@example.com
Added: 26th August 2020
Added: 7th July 2020
The Oakdale Centre
We are opening our Oakdale Centre Reception to enable learners to enrol on courses from Wednesday 8th July, and on Mondays, Wednesdays & Fridays weekly thereafter. The reception area will be open from 9.30am to 4.30pm. There will be a queuing system in place to restrict numbers within the reception area.
Please note: the rest of the building, including the toilets, are closed for public access. All payments will need to be undertaken by card, we cannot accept cash payments. All other centres remain closed, however, we will update you as and when other centres start to re-open.
To reduce pressure on our reception please do consider using either our website for enrolling or call our Customer Support Team on 01202 262300.
Added: 22nd June 2020
Our phone lines are now open and our Customer Service Team are ready at the other end of the phone. We are running on reduced staff so it may take a little longer for us to answer your call. If you would prefer you can also send us an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Added: 8th April 2020
Added: 19th March 2020
As a result of our decision to suspend classes we are issuing this guidance for refunds.
This only applies to learners that have paid Skills & Learning a Fee.
If you are on a Community Learning course (non-qualification course) you will be refunded on a ‘pro-rata’ basis according to the number of remaining sessions that have been cancelled.
If you are enrolled on a course that has not yet started and the course was due to start prior to the 1st June 2020 you will be refunded in full.
If you are on a course leading to a qualification we are awaiting further information from the awarding organisations and looking at methods of online delivery. We will contact you as soon as possible about this.
If you are paying by instalment we will work out either the refund or remaining fee due.
We will endeavour to undertake these refunds as soon as we can, however this will be dependent on having staff available to process these refunds.
Added: 18th March 2020
To protect the health and wellbeing of our learners, communities and staff and in response to Government guidelines on social distancing.
We are stopping our classroom-based, face to face course delivery and admission sessions from tomorrow, Thursday 19th March 2020 up to & including Friday 29th May 2020. You should not come to any of our classes and please do not visit any of our centres.
If you were due to take an exam you will be contacted.
If your learning is moving online you will be contacted.
Existing distance learning courses will continue.
If you are on an Apprenticeship you will be contacted. Please do not come to any workshops.
If you may be due a refund you will be contacted.
At this busy time unless your call is very urgent we would appreciate you not telephoning our centres.
Added: 18th March 2020
Skills & Learning are taking steps to ensure the integrity of our service and that we are doing everything possible to limit the effects of COVID-19 whilst continuing to deliver high-quality learning.
We will continue to provide the full professional support that our Learners and Employers expect and are exploring different options.
As many of our staff move to remote working they will remain accessible via email, telephone and video conferencing and where appropriate in person.
The wellbeing of our staff, learners, employers and stakeholders is of the utmost importance to us, and we are closely monitoring the current situation and will continue to follow Government advice as it unfolds.
We are reviewing the situation daily and if any of the above information changes, we will of course let you know. Staff are contacting learners regarding any closures, however if you would like any more information please contact us.
Added: 17th March 2020
The latest guidance for education settings is available here.
We would like to take this opportunity to express how important it is to keep up with washing hands more frequently.
Please remember to wash your hands more often than usual, if hand wash isn’t available then use hand sanitiser.
Wash your hands especially when you:
1) Have used the toilet
2) Arrive at work/school/college or have just come home
3) Blow your nose, sneeze or cough
4) Eat or handle food
Please help stop the spread of germs and wash your hands!
Added: 5th March 2020
Recent update from the Department for Education
The Department for Education has launched a new helpline to answer questions about COVID-19 related to education. Staff, parents and young people can contact the helpline as follows:
Phone: 0800 046 8687
Opening hours: 8am to 6pm (Monday to Friday)
The latest guidance for education settings is available here.