International students learning through lockdown

Published on 08/04/2020 by DTHACK

Seasiders Learning Centre students have been pulling together to help each other out - with tutors providing essential advice and support getting everyone safely through lockdown.

Students from Blackpool and The Fylde College's Seasiders Learning Centre have come from all over the world to live in Blackpool.

This global community has developed strong ties thanks to the support of local people. And now they're making sure they don't miss a minute of learning to adapt to local life and customs by helping each other through challenging online courses.

Since the coronavirus outbreak forced everyone into lockdown and replaced face-to-face teaching with remote learning, Seasiders students aiming for English as a Second Language (ESOL) qualifications have been making full use of available technology to keep spirits high and ensure their peers are staying the course - supported by tutors providing regular check-ins and study sessions.

Mary Roberts, Curriculum Manager from Seasiders, explained: "We’ve got a lot of the Syrian and Kurdish community supporting each other to get online, and calling each other to help get to grips with this new way of studying.

"The Seasiders team has been ringing children of adult students to help them support parents in getting online.

Mary added that staff are also helping with the wellbeing of students and their families during this very unusual and confusing time.

"Many of our students are struggling to understand the current situation; one lady thought she had to stay in the house all the time so hadn’t been for her daily walk or to do some shopping until one of our tutors phoned to check up on her." 

And while many people in the Seasiders community are permanently based in Blackpool, for others the suddenness of other countries imposing tough restrictions on movement has made life an even bigger challenge.

But they have risen to it, said Mary. And not neglected their studies. "We have one student that went to visit family in Greece and is now stuck there but has still managed to get on Microsoft Teams (the communications platform used by Seasiders to deliver online teaching) to continue their classes."

Seasiders also provides weekly phone calls and paper-based work packs for students unable to get online. 

The Seasiders Learning Centre Facebook page also provides regular community updates and useful information which can be easily translated. 

Mary added: "It's been a really challenging time for everyone but both students and the team of Janet Asiliskender, Lindsay Holbach, Phoebe McLeod, Bev Cheetham and Stacey Cann are really pulling together. We're proud of everyone."