Moulton College, like all other education providers, faced unprecedented changes last year due to COVID-19. However, this did not stop our ambitions to increase student numbers and achievement rates and to provide our students with the highest possible standard of education. Despite our recruitment goals, our number one priority has always been to ensure staff and student safety regardless of the external challenges.
Following the announcement of ‘lockdown’ in March, our IT Department, much to their credit, were prepared and ready to move the college to remote working and learning. Laptops provided to staff and students meant that no one from the Moulton community was disadvantaged due to the pandemic. Training and ongoing technical support was available to everyone at the college and was invaluable to our many staff who were teaching and carrying out their administrative duties remotely.
Being a land-based college our wide range of exotic and farm animals still required high standards of care throughout lockdown. Students and staff attended college to help with these tasks whilst observing strict safety measures.
Keeping communication channels open
Communication throughout lockdown was vitally important to ensure the smooth running of the college. Daily virtual meetings held with the Senior Management Team provided a voice to teams across the college. We continuously worked together to improve our staff and student experience during this time. From a wellbeing perspective, spending more time online can have its drawbacks and our Pastoral Team have done an incredible job working with students who have found this a challenge.
The transition to online learning
Moulton College is a vocational provider, and while online lessons were working exceptionally well, a large cohort of students still needed to undertake practical assignments to complete their course. We worked hard to reopen the college in June to a limited number of students, ensuring those nearing the end of their course could complete their practical exams.
The transition to online events
Spring/summer is an important time for recruitment, and with our inability to host any open events on campus, we were keen to organise an event online to showcase Moulton College. Our Marketing Department worked tirelessly to create our very first virtual open event, allowing prospective students to hear from course lecturers, take tours around our state-of-the-art facilities, and pose questions.
We witnessed outstanding engagement levels with prospective students asking lots of questions via the live Q&A. The event went so well we’ve just received an award for this project in the College Marketing Network’s national FE First Awards! We are continuing the virtual events and have added a very popular parent or guardian event to the schedule for this year.
With the Government’s commitment to reopen the doors of educational institutions in September, we devised a rigorous plan to allow all students and staff back safely onto campus. Our Estates Team installed screens and sanitiser points throughout the college, mask-wearing was made compulsory indoors and students were separated into different ‘bubbles’ to reduce cross-contamination. All staff also received safety inductions on their first day back in college.
With these safety measures in place, we have been able to deliver all classes face to face, ensuring that students can learn the practical skills they need.
A return to full-time teaching has not been our only success. We have also seen substantial growth in student numbers, student achievement rates and student retention, with this momentum carrying forward into this academic year.
Our plans for 2021
2021 will be the 100-year anniversary of the establishment of the Northampton Institute of Agriculture which later became Moulton College. We have lots planned for this anniversary year and we are determined to celebrate in style!
We’ve partnered with Future First, a national education charity that specialises in helping schools stay connected to their former students. This will be a fantastic way for the college to reach out to ex-students who can inspire the next generation.
We have made a commitment to increase the number of students studying land-based subjects. There is a national need to increase the number of students on courses such as agriculture, arboriculture, countryside management to name but a few. We will be focusing on raising awareness of the exciting opportunities available in these sectors, aiming to fill this key skills gap.
We will be developing stronger links with employers. This is a key agenda item for this year and will ensure our students continue to develop the workplace skills they require. While work experience has been a challenge this academic year, we are working on alternative ways for students to gain the practical workplace skills they need to secure
We know that there will be challenges ahead in 2021, yet we’ve already proven our resilience and our ability to exceed expectations. Bring on the new year!
Are you an ex-student of Moulton College? Visit networks.futurefirst.org.uk/former-student/moulton to register for our Alumni Association.