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Col­lege reflects on a year in lockdown

Wiltshire College & University Centre is reflecting on a year since the first lockdown began and the UK population was told to stay at home in order to stay safe and protect the NHS.

Since March last year, those working in the Health Care and Education sector, amongst others, have played a crucial role in supporting the Covid-19 efforts.

During that time, the College has seen more than 134 healthcare apprentices working on the front line for the NHS. These include men and women working on covid wards, in A&E, outpatients, physiotherapy, midwifery, mental healthcare, and within the community in residential homes and domiciliary care. Two senior healthcare support workers even achieved distinctions in their qualifications, despite the challenges.

In addition to this, there are also 118 apprentices, who are classed as key workers, and have been working in early year’s settings, residential children’s homes, schools’ and nurseries.

Margaret Eccleston is Deputy Head of Department for Health & Life Sciences.

She said: “All of our apprentices have done an absolutely fantastic job over the past year, at what has been a very difficult and harrowing time, working and keeping up with their studies.

“They have each demonstrated great resilience, overcome challenges and hurdles, and are still doing so, to manage this horrible virus and care for some incredibly ill patients.

“Several of our apprentices contacted Covid-19 themselves, luckily with no severe consequences, and some have had to look after family members who contracted it, and sadly some have experienced personal bereavement.”

It was on Monday 23rd March, 2020, that Prime Minister Boris Johnson, addressed the nation, and the country officially went into lockdown.

Since then, the entire College community has adapted to a new normal, working and studying from home, and also back on campus.

Margaret, who has been working at the College for 14 years, said: “Our assessors have been a terrific support to apprentices throughout the pandemic.

“Similarly, all employers have worked hard to follow Government guidelines and provide the correct resources so that apprentices could continue in their important roles.

“We have had some employers that have worked well with us to support their apprentice by allowing the assessor to observe via an online call.

“This helped those apprentices progress without any delay. This kind of adaptation is only suitable however, in some settings such as early years.

One of those who completed during the pandemic was Kimmy Smart, who was the first at the College to complete the new Level 3 Educator standard.

Despite the challenging circumstance, Kimmy, who works at Noah’s Ark Nursery School in Devizes, achieved a distinction.

The 19-year-old nursery assistant said: “I was delighted with my overall grade and happy to have passed.

“I very much enjoyed learning from the other practitioners in my setting and building a relationship with the children. The apprenticeship helped me to become more independent.

“Throughout the pandemic, we have had to do a lot of cleaning and disinfecting and it’s been very strange not to see parents as much, like we would have done before.

“The children have all done very well and shown how resilient they are.”

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