Commenting on the announcement by the NI Executive in relation to teaching in Further Education Colleges, Ken Webb, Chairman of the College Principals’ Group said:
"As Further Education College Principals, we welcome the decision to allow Colleges to remain open while trying to move as much provision as possible online over the next four weeks. Teaching and learning will continue for our students over this period with classes pausing only for the normal mid-term break.
"We all recognise the significant concern which exists among our learners, staff and wider community due to the rise in Covid-19. Our staff have worked extremely hard to put extensive measures in place across our campuses to suppress the transmission of the virus and the health and safety of everyone remains paramount.
"At the beginning of the pandemic, the FE Colleges quickly and successfully moved to provide a range of models of learning that included online delivery to students and as a result we are in an excellent position to respond to the request to maximise online learning. However, for certain learners and those completing skills based programmes including apprenticeships face to face delivery is unavoidable. To this end, we welcome the approach by the NI Executive to allow these learners and others where online delivery is not suitable, the opportunity to continue their learning in a safe and controlled environment.
"With the support of the Department for the Economy, the six Regional Colleges over recent weeks have provided laptops and computers to many students to assist them learning online. This intervention will now enable many more students to continue their learning during the period of enhanced Covid-19 restrictions. The Colleges will also support those learners with inadequate broadband to avail of the use of College facilities thus ensuring that no-one will be left unsupported during this period. We all have a duty to ensure the societal divide is not exacerbated any further and we are committed to maintaining the significant measures which are in place to deliver onsite and remote learning safely and successfully for all learners. “We will continue to work with the NI Executive and other stakeholders to minimise the disruption at this time and will ensure that every learner can avail of the necessary teaching required to succeed in the future.”