Ofsted have now published letters from the first ten providers ‘interim visits’ taking place this autumn. The inspectors have reported deteriorating mental health within students and Ofsted advise mental health should be a ‘high priority’ for education and apprenticeship providers.

With the ongoing pandemic, students are now having to adapt to remote learning and depleted social time, this can be especially difficult for those students who may live alone or already have mental health issues. FE Week reported that Blackpool and the Flyde College have introduced ‘online social time’, whilst another college, Birmingham Metropolitan College has increased its counselling support in line with Ofsted’s advice.

With access to students in person mostly diminished, it’s important that your technology platform can sufficiently provide ongoing mental health support, whether this be with regular remote check-ins or downloadable resources. Did you know Smart Assessor is the only eportfolio to have a designated well-being area for learners?

Users upload resources relevant to the pandemic, whether this be updated advice and guidance or links to well-being documents useful to your learners. There is also the opportunity to link Smart Assessor with our virtual learning environment Smart VLE, to provide resources and assessments directly related to well-being or current events.

Whilst Ofsted may not currently inspect universities, it is worth noting these suggestions should apply to university providers too, as many students who may be living on campus are now constrained to their accommodation due to lockdown restrictions.

Other areas of change due to the pandemic that were picked up by Ofsted included changes to the curriculum, with many providers moving practical assessments to the end of courses in hope that restrictions would be reduced to allow for in-person monitoring. Whilst other colleges have changed the way they deliver courses, with a heavy focus on virtual learning, including performing hair and beauty treatments via Zoom. Catch 22 Charity Limited now have staff completing work-related tasks from home as a means of virtual work experience and WS Training have also created an ‘online shop’.

To find out more about the interim visits and what Ofsted advise, click here

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