Rochdale Sixth Form receives praise for online learning

Date published: 23 June 2020

Rochdale Sixth Form College has received praise from Gavin Williamson, the Secretary of State for Education, for the online learning and support it has been providing students during the Covid-19 lockdown period.

At a time when students of all ages have been studying at home, the Ofsted Outstanding college’s year 12 and year 13 students have shown impressive rates of attendance and engagement in their online studies.

The college was singled out for praise by Gavin Williamson at the recent Sixth Form Colleges Association conference. He said: “Take Rochdale Sixth Form College, who have shifted both timetabled lessons and tutorials to online delivery at the start of lockdown. Online attendance figures for Rochdale have been averaging around 95% every week which is a tremendous achievement and just goes to show that ingenuity and innovation, even when it is unplanned, doesn't mean a loss of quality.” 

Richard Ronksley, principal of Rochdale Sixth Form College, said: “We continue to be impressed, but not surprised, by our staff and students’ ability to adapt to the challenging circumstances we find ourselves in. 

“We are proud that our staff, parents and students have been recognised nationally for the tremendous work they have done, not only in relation to their online studies, but also in the way we have supported and cared for each other during this most difficult of times. 

In late March, as schools and colleges began to shut down across the country, Rochdale Sixth Form geared up for change, switching all students over to a virtual timetable, and broadcasting lessons and tutorials to students using Microsoft Teams. Additional support was put in place for students who did not have access to IT facilities, loaning out laptops well before the government’s laptop scheme began. As a result, on the first day of lockdown, it was ‘business as usual’ for Rochdale Sixth Form with lessons starting promptly at 8.50am. 

But it hasn’t been all work and no play for staff and students, as the college has held quizzes, along with providing fun activities for students to do to keep them healthy, both in body and mind. The Student Union at the college has also been instrumental in supporting mental health awareness by hosting a variety of activities, such as the recent photography competition on ‘Life under Lockdown’.  

In these challenging times, the college has understood that the mental health and wellbeing of all staff and students is of paramount importance. As well as the continuation of online learning, Rochdale Sixth Form has continued to work with its more vulnerable students, with pastoral staff contacting them on a weekly basis to ensure they have all the resources and support they need. 

Students in Year 12 will also continue to receive their bursary allowance over the summer months, mirroring the stance taken by Marcus Rashford, who has campaigned and highlighted the struggles of some families over the holiday period, whilst Year 13 students will still receive a weekly message from the principal over the summer, and pastoral staff will still be available for any advice and support needed.

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