The Stakeholders working group met April 28th, 2021, to discuss planning for the next stage of the phased return for learners in FET settings.
External authentication including, best practice and its necessity during extenuating circumstances was raised by the stakeholder group. ETBI advised that communication issued to Directors regarding stakeholder meeting on assessment of April 16th and the arranged QQI meetings to discuss authentication requirements and clarification of published Measures to Mitigate Impact of Covid-19 Pandemic on Programmes Leading to QQI Awards, Version 2.
Confirmed COVID-19 Close Contacts
Guidance provided to the FET sector as part of the original guidelines and procedures for confirmed COVID-19 cases and confirmed close cases will continue to apply and further updates from the Stakeholder group will be furnished as appropriate. (Short Briefing document is included)
Youthreach and Community Training Centres remain open for learners with full onsite delivery. On-site small group tuition for vulnerable learners in community education, literacy and numeracy programmes at Levels 1-2 and working with learners from homeless and addiction services will continue.
All learners attending STP services, from Level 1-6, in NLN will continue with onsite provision augmented by remote delivery. Adherence to public health guidelines including use of PPE, 2 metre social distancing and appropriate infection control measures must be maintained until directed otherwise.
This will mean there will be limited on-site provision while other provision continues remotely to facilitate public health guidelines as majority of classrooms cannot facilitate pre-Covid occupancy levels due to social distancing.
Delivery of education within prisons will progress under the control of the Governor of the prison, as agreed with the Irish Prison Service. Teaching staff may access the Education Centres to undertake preparatory work, re-assess classroom capacities, assess student learning needs, and update timetables.
Other vulnerable learners requiring onsite presence to support wellbeing or access to workspace and Wi-Fi to complete course work can also be accommodated, bearing in mind the overall footfall of the FET centre/institution.
Schools of Music
Meeting with the Arts Council is scheduled for Friday 30th of April to discuss any next steps of the phased re-opening and guidance will be issued in due course. The current limited on-site arrangements for some provision, and emergency remote delivery for the remainder of the provision, will continue in the interim.
The next stage of time-critical return for apprenticeship (consortium-led where required as well as craft) is currently being planned, with SOLAS engaging with ETBs.
Time-Critical Assessments Level 4-6
Learners at levels 4, 5 and 6 who are engaged in time-critical practical elements across the awards including QQI, City of Guilds, Junior and Senior Trade examinations will continue as part of the agreed process for a phased reopening. This is not a return to tuition, rather it is a return to facilitate instruction on specialist equipment required for the completion of time-critical practical elements and the completion of such time-critical practical elements. Learners will revert to emergency remote learning after those practical elements are completed. Onsite presence should be restricted to those engaged in time-critical practical elements only and is a subject to maintaining the minimum number of learners required onsite at any given time. It is not expected that the number of learners returning would exceed 5% on site at any one time.
The phased return to on-site activity for the completion of the time-critical practical elements will be subject to an agreed process where teacher/ tutor will engage with FET Centre Management.
·The teacher/ tutor will make an application to the FET Centre management outlining the rationale for onsite activity
·State the proposed time period for onsite activity
·State the number of learners involved
·Confirm space and equipment requirements
It may be the case that not all time-critical practicals can be facilitated at the same time. FET Centre Management will then endeavour to facilitate requests while ensuring onsite activity remains minimal. This may require that management prioritise some groups to return sooner while deferring other groups to a later date for onsite activity, after the initial groups have completed their time-critical practical elements and returned to remote delivery.
Where agreement is not reached between a Teacher/Tutor and the FET Centre management, the request will be escalated to the Director of FET for resolution, if resolution cannot be achieved it will then be passed to the Stakeholders group for determination.
Where work placements are required as part of the programme and the relevant industry is open and operating under the current Government Guidelines, and employers are in agreement to facilitate the placement, such placements can proceed. Adherence to public health guidelines including use of PPE, 2 metre social distancing and appropriate infection control measures must be maintained until directed otherwise.
Hairdressing Junior and Senior Trades Practical Examinations.
The Stakeholder group will prepare a submission to the State Examinations Committee outlining appropriate alternatives proposed by the sector to address the current delays with the examinations.
Skills to Advance programmes
Skills to Advance programmes that are providing off-site training to employers / industry can recommence providing that the industries are open and operating under the current Government guidelines. Adherence to public health guidelines including use of PPE, 2 metre social distancing and appropriate infection control measures must be maintained until directed otherwise.
Evening Training Courses
Evening Training Courses in Training Centre will remain online until September 2021.
Discussion will continue in relation to the next phase of return and may include the following programmes which will primarily be accommodated through the emergency remote delivery but will accommodate on-site delivery as appropriate, for practical elements only:
·VTOS, BTEI and LTI
·Skills to Compete, Skills to Advance and Skills for Work programmes
·Specific Skills Training (SST) in Training Centres and via Contracted Training, 2016+ Apprenticeship, Traineeships and all other practical courses e.g. Horticulture, Welding etc.
ETBs will be required to provide details regarding the number of learners expected on site in FET centres in respect of these programmes. Separate communication will be sent to ETBs with the survey to collate this data.
The FET overarching guidelines will continue to apply and further education and training institutions will continue to operate primarily online with the emergency remote learning remaining the primary mode of delivery for most activities with remote working encouraged where possible. All requests from staff to engage in on-site provision are to remain the subject of risk assessment, consultation and agreement with management.
All planned phased return will be carried out in a phased approach and in accordance with current Governmental COVID-19 Resilience & Recovery 2021 – The Path Ahead framework. All planning will be based on full adherence to the current national guidelines and health and safety regulations.