Student FAQs: COVID-19

Studying safely during the national lockdown

In line with government advice and guidance, and to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of our students and the wider community, most learning and teaching is now tutor-led online using the College's virtual learning environment, Canvas.

Bispham Campus is open by appointment to vulnerable students (looked after children, care leavers, children on Educational Health Care (EHC) plans, those estranged from family, young carers, children in need, and children with social workers) and the children of critical workers.

Delivering remote education for different learner cohorts (14 to 16, 16 to 19, apprentices, adult learners) 

A teacher led online learning model for the vast majority of students will continue at B&FC until, we anticipate, late February 2021.

Learning has switched to remote education for the majority of students, with the exception of vulnerable students, students with at least one parent or carer who is listed as a critical worker and those students as having been identified as requiring access to the digital lounges at Bispham campus in order to continue their online learning.

High-quality remote education will be provided for all other students, who should not attend B&FC.

Study scheduling

Online learning will generally follow existing timetables. Sessions previously timetabled for face-to-face delivery on campus will now be delivered at the same time but on a remote basis.

Any required changes to timetables will be communicated to students by B&FC.

Students requiring specialist equipment or resources

If your programme of study requires access to specific resources or software, please discuss with your curriculum team and B&FC will provide support where reasonable and in line with Government advice and guidance.

Students without access to suitable devices, internet access, or suitable place to study

Please inform your tutor if you do not have access to a device suitable for remote learning and do not qualify for additional support through the Barriers to Learning Fund (email ssfunds@blackpool.ac.uk) or the Higher Education bursary.

Access to the Digital Lounge (Bispham Campus) can be granted on an appointment basis for students who fall within these specified criteria.

Expectations

We understand that this is a challenging time for our student community and inevitably we have made changes to our curriculum delivery.  Unless you have been informed otherwise by your tutor all learning will take place online.

Your full attendance, punctuality and engagement in online sessions is mandatory and you will have received invites from your tutor for all online sessions.

Please come to these sessions suitably prepared, in an appropriate space to learn and with the necessary digital resources for a fully engaging learning experience. 
If you have problems accessing either resources or spaces, then please inform your tutor as soon as possible so that we can support you to get the very best out of your online learning experience.

Supporting each other

We understand that many of you will be feeling anxious. Please do reach out to colleagues, friends and family and support each other.

The College’s student support services also remain available to all members of the community.

Supporting students

Still looking for the answer to your question? Email us at info@blackpool.ac.uk.

 Digital support

How can I access online learning?

B&FC is committed to ensuring all students progress to their next year and can complete their chosen programme of study.

Online and distance learning will be provided to support students with their learning, using the College’s Virtual Learning Environment (Canvas), OneFile, B&FC email and/or Microsoft Teams.

Depending on your course, tutors will upload learning resources, assessments and activities with a set deadline.

There will be opportunities to discuss these assignments, for example using Microsoft Teams.

What you'll need

  • Computer or other device capable of connecting to the internet.
  • Wi-Fi or broadband connection.
  • Webcam and microphone (can be integrated).

To get started

  1. Activate your college Office365 email address
  2. Download Office365 applications
  3. Log on to your virtual learning environment, Canvas - at https://bfc.instructure.com

Support accessing digital resources

  • Technical issues? Contact IT Services
  • Need advice on using these resources? Contact your tutor.

How can I get help with Canvas (the College's virtual learning environment)?

Speak to your tutor or email canvas@blackpool.ac.uk

Please include your student ID in any email correspondence.

How do I access Office 365?

Office 365 applications include Outlook (for email) and Teams (for working with your tutor and fellow students).

To log in to Office 365, go to https://www.office.com/ and use your college username and password.

If you are confident the username and password are correct:

Go to the Microsoft 365 Service health status page at https://status.office365.com/.

If you see a message starting 'There are currently no known issues', then contact the IT Service Desk.

If you need help resetting your password, contact the IT Service Desk.

How do I contact IT Services?

Unless your query is in relation to gaining access to your account/resetting your password, please raise a request on the IT Service Desk Portal.

If you are unable to access your account, please call IT Services on 01253 504222.

This line can be busy at times, and you may be asked to leave a voicemail.

If this occurs please ensure you leave a name, student number (if applicable), and contact number so that a member of the team can get back to you. Please be prepared to verify your identity for security purposes.

Can I access the College if I am unable to study remotely? 

We have introduced a digital lounge at Bispham Campus to support your learning.

The digital lounge is available by appointment only to students without access to Wi-Fi, or a suitable device for study - or struggling to study through the isolating effects of lockdown. 
 
To access the digital lounge, please contact your lecturer or progress tutor at least 24 hours before you would like to attend.

If you have any other issues accessing technology or equipment to support your studies, please contact your lecturer or progress tutor. 

Books, eBooks and journals

If you require a specific (hard copy) text from a different LRC/campus it can be ordered and made available at Bispham Campus during your arranged visit.

If you require a specific eBook, email LRCs@blackpool.ac.uk.

Don't forget to include your student ID number.

What happens to my library loans?

If you have books on loan from LRC, they will be auto-renewed - unless you have been notified they are required by another student.

No library fines will be incurred while college is closed.

Staying safe online

We support students in 'Being Safe and Feeling Safe', and this includes staying safe online. With the increased use of the internet here are some links to additional resources: 

  • Cyberaware is the UK government's advice on how to stay secure online during coronavirus. This site gives you guidance on how to follow their six top tips for staying safe online. 
  • The National Crime Agency has developed some useful resources helping parents, carers and guardians support their students safely and securely get the most from the web. The Thinkuknow website (thinkuknow.co.uk) provides you with tools and tips to keep young people safe online. You’ll also find advice handling situations where you think students might be in difficult situations.
  • saferinternet.org.uk includes tips, advice, guides and resources for non-experts to help keep safe online. Advice and resources are here to support you as you support your child to use the internet safely, responsibility and positively. 
  • childline.org.uk this is a great resource to help you keep safe, and what to do when things go wrong. Some of the topics covered are tips to staying safe online, keeping your information secure, and how to spot fake news.  
  • ceop.police.uk is for safely and securely reporting online sexual abuse, whether you have been the victim of online sexual abuse or you’re worried this is happening to someone that you know.  
  • reportharmfulcontent.com guides you through reporting and removing harmful material from social media. 
  • Lancashire Safeguarding features essential advice for parents, carers and guardians.

Beware phishing coronavirus scams

Phishing is the process of tricking someone into providing their personal information such as credit card numbers, social security/national ID numbers or other financial data.

Phishing is on the rise due to hackers taking advantage of the fear and anxiety caused by the global pandemic.

Usually, once the victim has provided the information, it is used to steal their money, property or identity.

Technology supporting learning for degree-level (higher education) students

All B&FC students can access the following software via their accounts to assist them with their education: 

  • Read + Write – literacy software with tools designed to support reading, writing, study and research, which includes reader software and speech to text 
  • Mindview – software used for mind mapping, concept mapping and other visuals 

If you are unable to access either of these two pieces of software via your account and would like to use them, please email canvas@blackpool.ac.uk.

 Study support

Your tutor

You can contact your tutor on Canvas, Microsoft Teams, or via email.

Alternatively, contact your Head of Curriculum:

Apprenticeships

Email ApprenticeSupport@blackpool.ac.uk.

Wellbeing

Please fill in this short referral form and we'll be in touch.

Study support for degree-level (higher education) students

How can Higher Education Learning Mentors (HELMs) support my studies?

HELMs offer:

  • Academic development: we can help you to improve your essay planning, critical analysis and editing skills
  • Coaching sessions to establish what your goals are and how you will reach them 
  • Hacks to save time and stay organised Individualised action plans so that you achieve the best outcomes you can 
  • English support to develop your grammar, punctuation and writing skills  
  • Valuable feedback: students who have used the HELM service have seen the quality of their work improve 
  • Employability: all of the skills you develop with your HELM will help you to reach your career goals

How to contact HELMs

Read a message from the Vice Principal for HE and Student Enhancement

Study support for 16-18 (further education) students

How do I get in touch with my progress coach? 

 Careers and employability support for degree-level (higher education) students

The Careers Team is still operating and is available to support you throughout the pandemic and beyond.

The team can help you with online support for interviews, CVs, application forms and applying for student finance.

In addition, there are lots of opportunities to learn new skills and develop your employability.

All B&FC students have free access to LinkedIn Learning offering short video courses in creative, software and business skills.

You can also access your Gradintelligence account to create or update your CV or do some psychometric tests, in addition to reviewing your electronic transcript (HE-AR).

Contact us for any careers support you need - including a personal careers guidance interview to discuss your goals, aspirations, progression options and more we can help you to formulate your ideas into a plan:

What's DegreePlus?

If you have been volunteering to support those in your local community, in response to the current situation, you may want to consider applying for DegreePlus.

You can also apply for a DegreePlus award if you are a Student Rep or maybe you have been involved in a fundraising activity?

We have a Digital DegreePlus award that will enable you to learn and demonstrate your digital skills to a prospective employer.

Any award that you successfully complete will be added to your HE-AR for the purposes of enhancing your employability.

 

 Learning, teaching, exams and assessments support

How will COVID-19 affect my exams?

GCSEs

Information regarding Summer exams for 2020-21 will be confirmed pending advice and guidance from DfE and awarding bodies. 

Do I need to keep studying?

Following the Government announcement that this year's GCSEs will be determined through teacher assessed grades, it is very important that you attend your GCSE sessions online, complete all your in-class work, including all formative assessments and any future assessments, which may contribute to your overall grade.

Functional Skills: Maths and English 

Information regarding Functional Skills exams for 2020-21 will be confirmed pending advice and guidance from DfE and awarding bodies. 

Do I need to keep studying?

Whilst this current situation lasts, students need to continue to develop their skills, knowledge and understanding to help prepare themselves for their next level of further or higher education.
To do so, students are required to continue to work towards the completion of their assignments, supported by their lecturers.

Technical and vocational qualifications (including BTEC) 

Information regarding assessments for 2020-21 will be confirmed pending advice and guidance from DfE and awarding bodies. 

Do I need to keep studying?

Whilst this current situation lasts, students need to continue to develop their skills, knowledge and understanding to help prepare themselves for their next level of further or higher education.

To do so, students are required to continue to work towards the completion of their studies, supported by their lecturers.

Learning, teaching, exams and assessments support: 16-18 (further education) students

B&FC will not be running exams and practical assessments onsite, on campus until the anticipated end of the COVID-19 national lockdown in mid February.

We will keep this under close review for those qualifications which require professional, statutory and regulatory body assessments for adult students who will shortly progress to become critical workers.

We have assurances from awarding bodies that students will be given options to fit their individual situations.

Certification will be issued based on assessments already completed if the student's portfolio is sufficient. Alternatively, the student will be given the opportunity to sit their exam or complete further assessments later in the year.

The lockdown will not stop students completing courses and receiving fair grades.

Awarding bodies have already suggested a number of options to help each student succeed - whether by resitting exams or assessments, or based on assessments already completed.

B&FC will work with each student to identify the best option for their situation.

Visit our Facebook page for the latest updates.

Can I resit my exam or assessment?

Your tutor will work with you to identify your next steps.

They will look at your completed assessments and based on guidance from the awarding bodies, will recommend the option to provide your best outcome.

What if I'm not up-to-date on assessments?

B&FC is here to help you achieve the best possible outcome. While the national lockdown restricts us from offering face to face teaching and on-site assessments, we do anticipate being able to provide these services afterwards. This gives you plenty of time to get your assessments up to date and, if necessary, sit an exam before the end of your academic year.

We will have much more information to share with you in coming weeks - and each student will be contacted by their tutor to explain their options to help achieve the best possible outcome.

What about placements?

All industry placements have been suspended during lockdown.

If you have any queries please contact your tutor or email placements@blackpool.ac.uk.

Who do I contact for more information?

Email info@blackpool.ac.uk.

Don't forget to include your student ID.

 

Learning, teaching, exams and assessments support: degree-level (higher education) students

Will exams and assessments be affected?

We will not currently be conducting any assessments requiring students on campus.

Programme teams have been reviewing planned teaching and assessment for all modules and have been considering any changes that will be required to ensure that all assessment is aligned with online teaching delivery and that students can still achieve the learning outcomes for their programme, enabling them to progress and achieve their goals.

Assessments should be submitted via Canvas; where possible we will maintain existing deadlines for assessments and exams - such as a time limited assessment which will usually take place on the date scheduled for an exam.

Please contact your tutor or programme leader who will be able to provide further information, guidance and support. Where individuals have been impacted by COVID-19, please notify your tutor to explain your circumstances and discuss arrangements regarding your studies.

The Personal Mitigating Circumstances (PMC) process is there to support you. Your tutor can help you with this and further details are provided below.

To ensure that we as a College maintain the highest quality of our HE programmes our marking and moderation processes remain the same with all results being considered in the Board of Examiners. 

How will the College prevent collusion and cheating during time limited assessments?  

Time limited assessments are similar to open-book assessments so are the same as other assessments in this respect. Students suspected of breaching the rules will be subject to investigation under the College’s academic malpractice and misconduct regulations. 

What happens if I experience technical issues that disrupt my time limited assessment?  

Please inform your module leader or another member of any difficulties you are having, as soon as possible. The College will be as flexible as possible, for example, a photograph of a time limited assessment script uploaded via mobile phone may be considered.  

What should I do if I am unwell and cannot take a time limited assessment?  

If you are unwell, please inform your programme leader or module leader as soon as you possibly can. 

I am on a professional programme – how will this affect me?

For students on professional programmes, such as the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT), we are following advice from your regulatory bodies. Your programme team will be in regular contact with you about next steps.

What if I have mitigating circumstances?

We recognise that this extraordinary situation will be creating additional pressures.

The Personal Mitigating Circumstances (PMC) process will enable us to consider each student’s unique context to ensure no one is disadvantaged.

To support you during this period we will consider a range evidence/verification to support any students impacted by circumstances relating to COVID-19.

Please contact your lecturers, personal tutors and/or programme leaders to discuss and obtain further information, guidance and support. 

Will I need medical or other evidence for PMCs during COVID-19?

You will not always be required to provide medical evidence to support a claim for PMCs, other forms of verification will be considered.

As each student’s circumstances will be different, we do ask you to complete a PMC application as usual.

Your tutor can help you with this.

 Financial support

If you don't find the information you need below, please visit our financial support pages.

Will I still receive my bursary?

Bursary payments will continue as planned.

You may be eligible to apply to the Barriers for Learning Fund - please email ssfunds@blackpool.ac.uk. 

I normally get a free meal at College. How will I access this?

If you're eligible for free meals, you will receive an eVoucher at your B&FC email address. Full instructions on how to use this eVoucher will be provided.

For more information please email ssfunds@blackpool.ac.uk. 

Financial support resources

There are lots of organisations providing support through financial hardship. 

Councils

Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre Councils support for residents including financial support and food bank information:

Debt support services

Food banks

Sometimes, you may need to be referred to a food bank, this can be done via the council links above and via the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB).

Financial support: degree-level (higher education) students

Will I still receive my payment from the Student Loans Company? 

Yes, we can confirm that the Student Loans Company have taken the decision to make this payment as usual.

Can I get help with financial hardship? 

B&FC has two options available:

  • The Office for Students has made funding available for higher education students (on a course at Level 4 or above) who have suffered financial hardship as a result of the pandemic. Apply for support funding.
  • Funding may be available through B&FC's HE Hardship Fund. This is also non-repayable. You must already be in receipt of student finance to be eligible for this funding. Email careers@blackpool.ac.uk.

 Health and wellbeing support

What if I need to self-isolate?

Please do not be concerned about your studies if you need to self-isolate. Please notify your tutor to explain your circumstances and discuss arrangements regarding your studies.

If you are a HE student and have to miss exams or assessments due to self-isolating, you will need to submit a claim for personal mitigating circumstances (PMCs).

Your tutor can help you with this.

What to do if you're in the high risk (clinically extremely vulnerable) category

Coronavirus (COVID-19) can make anyone seriously ill. But for some people, the risk is higher.

If you are considered high risk (clinically extremely vulnerable) you should follow this guidance:

  • Strictly avoid contact with someone who has symptoms
  • You need to be extra stringent re. social distancing and other advice
  • Stay at home at all times (shielding)
    • Shopping – (we advise you to shop online, and arrange delivery)
    • Medication – we advise you to arrange delivery
    • Impact on learning and teaching – your Progress Tutor will advise on alternative teaching, where appropriate
  • Clean and dry used crockery and cutlery using your usual washing-up liquid and water and dry them thoroughly. If you are using your own utensils, remember to use a separate tea towel for drying these.
  • If you need to use other shared facilities (such as kitchens and lifts), avoid using them when others are present
  • Clean surfaces before using them with your normal cleaning products.
  • Do not have any visitors unless they are providing essential care.

I have a health reason or disability that prevents me from wearing a face covering.

If you have an age, health or disability reason for not wearing a face covering please make contact with your tutor for an individual risk assessment.

You may also 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 information about exemption is available on the government website.

Here are several other useful resources:

Personal safety

We support students in 'Being Safe and Feeling Safe'. If you feel unsafe or are at risk of being unsafe - speak directly to your tutor or another member of College staff that you feel comfortable talking to.

If you cannot contact anyone you wish to talk to and you feel you are at immediate risk of harm to yourself or others, or feel you are at risk of danger from others, and need help:

For non-urgent medical help - Do not leave your home.  Contact the National Health Services (NHS) either by phone or online. This may be any of the following:

  • Your GP – your GP contact details will be available on-line.
  • Blackpool Urgent Treatment Centre (Walk-in Centre) 01253953953. Please click on this link for more details Blackpool Urgent Treatment Centre Contact and Opening Times
  • NHS helpline on 111, or NHS online via 111.nhs.uk/. (Please note however, during the COVID 19 situation, the 111 service is extremely busy -expect a wait).

For situations that do not require an immediate police response: dial 101.

If you are in an emergency situation ring 999.

 Mental health support

Local information and resources

  • Together all - a digital mental health support service available 24/7. This is a free completely anonymous service that allows you to access peer support and tailored self-help programmes that Blackpool and Lancashire NHS are supporting.
  • FYI Directory outlines local health, community and social services available. Accessible online at www.fyidirectory.co.uk or call 0800 0922 332, a simple postcode search, allows you to find the nearest services to you.
  • Healthy Young Minds is a network including NHS Lancashire and Cumbria NHS offering advice, guidance and support related to mental health and emotional wellbeing. A topic page for COVID-19 has been created specifically aimed at young people Lancashire and South Cumbria Healthy Young Minds.

National information and resources

Helplines

  • Wellbeing and mental health support helpline: 0800 915 4640 (call) and 07860 022 846 (text). Both services available 365 days a year - Monday to Friday, 7pm until 11pm, and Saturday and Sunday, 12pm until midnight.
  • CAMHS (Child and adolescent mental health services) NHS Support: 01253 957160 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm).
  • CASHER (Child & Adolescent Support and Help Enhanced Response team): 07810 696565 (Monday to Friday, 5pm to 10pm; Saturday and Sunday, 10am to 8pm)
  • Youtherapy – a counselling and wellbeing service: 01253 955858 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm)
  • Samaritans: 116123 (freephone, open 24 hours a day, seven days a week)
  • Young Minds: Text YM to 85258 (24 hours a day, seven days a week).

Local community support

Community Hubs have been set up to help support those deemed vulnerable or through self-isolation during the COVID 19 crisis, signposting residents to local services such as preventing loneliness, mental health support and financial and debt advice.

Blackpool Council hub

To offer help, email helpoffered@blackpool.gov.uk.

Wyre and Fylde and other Lancashire County Council hubs

For additional information, check out 10 ways to take care of your mental health and wellbeing.

 Advice for parents, carers and guardians

Thanks for your patience and understanding during this challenging time.

B&FC’s priority has always been to help students achieve their aspirations and enjoy a high-quality learning experience in safe and supportive environments.  

We are incredibly proud of the hard work and dedication of our students and colleagues in this difficult situation and we are committed to doing everything in our power to help students achieve their goals and ambitions. 

B&FC encourages all students to access lateral flow testing when available.

If a student is unwell or unable to attend sessions, they must notify us by phone on 01253 504343.

Please find below the many things we are doing here at B&FC to support students with online and remote working arrangements during the COVID-19 lockdown.

  • B&FC reviews daily, all official guidance from the UK government, public health England and other relevant bodies and uses it to inform our support for students. We have set out below the measures that we have taken to continue to support students and deliver learning and teaching: 
  • Progress Tutors, Programme Leaders and lecturers have kept in contact with their students through phone calls, e-mails and on-line conversations. This is to check on their engagement and progress 
  • Curriculum Areas have posted onto B&FC’s social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter video updates, messages, useful tips, links and competitions 
  • B&FC’s Progress Coaches have continued to contact students to check that everything is going well and they have everything they need to develop their skills, knowledge and understanding 
  • Our Students’ Union have produced an on-line enrichment programme. Here, students can engage in competitions, communicate with their friends and show case any volunteering activities they have undertaken in the community. 
  • B&FC’s Student Support team has continued to provide a high level of study support for students 
  • The Careers Team continue to provide a full service of online careers advice, interview support, CV writing and assistance with financial matters such as bursaries, free school meals and bus passes 
  • Where possible, B&FC has supported eligible students who were unable to access a device or IT to enable them to complete online tasks by loaning out a laptop and or arranging access to WIFI 
  • B&FC has ensured that all vulnerable students have been identified and are working with a named point of contact at B&FC on a regular basis, in addition to their subject tutor 
  • B&FC has ensured that students identified as vulnerable and the children of key workers have the opportunity to attend on-site support sessions on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at the Bispham Campus. (Prior registration and authorisation is needed) 
  • B&FC colleagues have provided, and continue to develop, a comprehensive range of resources for students, to support with any wellbeing or health challenges through various online platforms and useful links to websites. We have put together a handy guide to many of the wellbeing resources

 Helping us, help you: providing feedback on your student experience

We welcome feedback from students, parents, guardians and employers about the service we provdie as a college.

To provide feedback: