Coronavirus (COVID-19)

FW Solutions Ltd response to the COVID-19 Coronavirus outbreak.

Following Government guidelines, FW Solutions Ltd is now operating a stay safe policy.

FW Solutions implemented the business continuity and risk management plan on Tuesday 17th March which included immediate home working for all tutors and administration personnel to ensure the safety of the whole team.

The arrangements set out in this response specifically relate to the response to the Covid-19 virus and are temporary.  FW Solutions will continue to monitor and respond to the situation in conjunction with Government and sector body guidance.

On this page dedicated to FW Solutions’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic you will find information and resources related to apprenticeships, Advanced Learner Loan programmes of study and employment as an apprentice.

Learner Information

Every effort will be made to ensure that apprentices will continue with their apprenticeship and be assessed in accordance with current EPA (End-Point Assessment) plan and EQA (External Quality Assurance) requirements if possible.  Where this is not possible, FW Solutions will extend the apprenticeship in order to reschedule the EPA. During the lockdown period, FW Solutions Ltd, whilst remaining fully supportive to learners and employers, has now changed its teaching and assessment methodology and is operating virtually through platforms deemed appropriate by sector officials, including Zoom, Google Hangouts and Microsoft Teams which are all secure platforms that operate in line with GDPR regulations.

SEND support with COVID-19

The SEND strategy outlines FW Solutions’ strategy for supporting young learners (aged 16-25) and adults with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) within our Further Education and Apprenticeship provision.

On the 19th April 2020, the Department of Education published new details regarding SEND and risk assessments. We will be working to government guidance and updating practice where needed. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-send-risk-assessment-guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-send-risk-assessment-guidance

We are continuing to support our learners with SEND and will undertake a risk assessment where needed to establish the individual needs of each learner that may already have an Education Health and Care plan (EHC). We will continue to take steps to include the local authority and parents or carers during the risk assessment and assess their needs accordingly.

Here at FW Solutions’ we are continuing to support our learners with needs such as Dyslexia, Dyscalculia or Dysgraphia and ensuring they are able to learn remotely and they can access their resources online and to maintain their learning in whatever format is most appropriate to them and their additional needs. We will continue checking their computer literacy and offering support or resources that may be useful, step by step guides, arranging video calls on a suitable format i.e. Zoom, Google Hangouts, Microsoft Teams, WhatsApp etc to discuss the work they have completed if writing or typing their work is challenging at this time. We are also encouraging family members to support and read with learners where possible.

If you would like any further information or support regarding Special Educational Needs or Disabilities, please contact FW Solutions’ SENCo Kimberley Grantham.

k.grantham@fwsolutions@net

0775282572

Information on Functional Skills support and testing

At FW Solutions, we are working closely with our awarding organisations Pearson and NCFE and Ofqual to make sure learners are supported with functional skills maths, English and ICT during this uncertain time. We are working to bring together a variety of resources that are available on our website to help you continue your learning and development in these areas. We understand these are difficult times and there are many challenges ahead and we are doing all we can to keep updated and put measures in place in accordance to the health and safety guidelines to help you progress and achieve your functional skills. OFQUAL continue to update their assessment guidance and those learners due to achieve their Functional Skills qualification during the lockdown period will be assessed according to the latest guidelines.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/awarding-vocational-and-technical-qualifications-this-summer

Supporting the wellbeing and mental health of our learners and employees

The effects of the Coronavirus pandemic are far-reaching. The social distancing rules, disruption to family routine, financial insecurity, and health fears have put a huge strain on most people’s ability to cope in stressful situations. Whatever your situation, it is important to look at what you can do to limit the toll on your mental health and wellbeing.

FW Solutions are committed to support the wellbeing of our learners and staff so that they can continue to achieve their work and learning objectives during this difficult and uncertain time.

Our Teaching and Learning Co-ordinators are continuing to deliver high quality education, training and support to their learners using secure communication platforms. In addition to the remote one to one support and guidance provided to individuals, learners are also encouraged to visit the websites on our IAG (Information, Advice and Guidance) page where they can access resources to help to them look after their mental health and wellbeing. We have introduced a range of initiatives to support the mental health and wellbeing of our staff and learners and these can be found in our Wellbeing During COVD-19 strategy.

Safeguarding during COVID-19

FW Solutions is committed to maintaining the highest possible standards to meet its social, moral and legal responsibilities to safeguard the welfare of every child/young person, vulnerable adult  or learner regardless of gender, ethnicity, disability, sexuality or religion  and to ensure they feel safe, secure and are listened to.

Key Information

We provide our learners with opportunities throughout their apprenticeship or learning programme to develop the skills they need to stay safe, healthy and recognise and respond to abuse and harmful behaviours and this is extended to the time they are in isolation. During this uncertain time, we have switched all of our learning to distance learning via online platforms according to the learner’s needs. These platforms include Zoom, Google Hangouts, Microsoft Teams and WhatsApp. In between teaching and assessment time, learners will receive a welfare call to ensure their safety and wellbeing during the lockdown period.

It is important for our learners and staff to ensure they are safe online and e-safety is paramount. Being in isolation and living our lives online comes with risks and we encourage our learners to recognise cyber bullying, grooming, radicalisation and trolling and how to increase their online security and reduce these risks to their safety. We are committed to ensuring overuse of social media and over exposure to the news around COVID-19 does not impact on mental health and wellbeing.

FW Solutions’ employees recognise that safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility irrespective of their role. During this time in isolation you have the right to feel safe where you learn and work.
Other people should not:

If you wish to share information with FW Solutions staff members, please note:
If the staff member feels that what you tell them puts you or any other young person at risk of harm; they will have to pass it on to the designated person who may have to take it further to support you or others and keep everyone safe. This is in accordance with our safeguarding referral procedure. They will only tell those who need to know

FW Solutions continues to follow our Safeguarding policy and procedures (which can be found here and the DfE guidance on safeguarding learners during COVID-19:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-safeguarding-in-schools-colleges-and-other-providers/coronavirus-covid-19-safeguarding-in-schools-colleges-and-other-providers

We are committed to ensuring learners know who to contact if they are worried or have any concerns about their safety and wellbeing.

Any concerns relating to the welfare of a learner should be directed to our Designated Safeguarding Lead, Nicola Balmforth – n.balmforth@fwsolutions.net

Information for apprentice employers

Don’t wash your hands of your apprentices!

MAY 2020 UPDATE : The Government updated their advice on 11th May on reopening your workplace and how to work Safely during Coronavirus https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19

We ask that all employers of apprentices ensure they have followed the HSE guidelines before requesting apprentices to return to work https://www.hse.gov.uk/simple-health-safety/risk/index.htm and displaying  the ‘Staying COVID-19 Secure’ poster once risk assessments have been completed.

At this time, our teaching staff will continue to work from home and apprentices will continue to learn online.

Your apprentices will continue learning via online study platforms. Apprentices do not need to attend physical 1:1 sessions or to have physical contact with teaching staff in order to continue their apprenticeship study. So those working from home or furloughed apprentices, for example, can continue with all skills, knowledge and behaviour aspects of their Apprenticeship via our flexible learning delivery methods and using our virtual learning environment and e-portfolio.

If an apprentice is sick due to COVID-19 and/or is unable to do any learning for four consecutive weeks or longer, we can arrange for them to have a break in learning.

All learning that they take part in will be logged in their Off the Job Training log and will count towards their total time at the end of the apprenticeship. We will continue to review progress every 8 weeks and involve you, the employer, in the feedback and progress meeting remotely.

Note that FW Solutions are enrolling new apprentices via remote enrolment and apprentices can begin their training immediately via online learning before they return to work following relaxation of Government lockdown guidelines. Please contact Rebecca Warden – r.warden@fwsolutions.net if you wish to enrol an apprentice.

Guidance for employers that wish to access the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS)

MAY 2020 UPDATE: Please see the guidance released on paying furloughed apprentices  https://help.apprenticeships.education.gov.uk/hc/en-gb/articles/360013647099-Paying-your-apprentices-that-are-furloughed?es_c=DDB3A270981E621A69B3141AF29DF658&es_cl=19B69261BE2BF8355B47891CC41CDF00&es_id=9d%c2%a3o3

UPDATE: The extension of the Job Retention Scheme https://www.gov.uk/government/news/chancellor-extends-furlough-scheme-until-october

The government has now confirmed (17th April 2020) that apprentices can continue with funded training when employers use the job retention scheme, subject to being paid the apprenticeship minimum wage “for all the time they spend training”.

HMRC guidance says: “Apprentices can be furloughed in the same way as other employees and they can continue to train whilst furloughed.

“However, you must pay your Apprentices at least the Apprenticeship Minimum Wage, National Living Wage or National Minimum Wage (AMW/NLW/NMW) as appropriate for all the time they spend training. This means you must cover any shortfall between the amount you can claim for their wages through this scheme and their appropriate minimum wage.

“Guidance is available for changes in apprenticeship learning arrangements because of COVID-19.” https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-apprenticeship-programme-response/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-apprentices-employers-training-providers-end-point-assessment-organisations-and-external-quality-assurance-pro

However, separate guidance has been released by the DfE regarding the furlough of staff in Early Years settings. Please use the guidance in conjunction with the guidance for apprentices:

Early years

MAY 2020 UPDATE: The Government have advised that Early Years settings and childminders should open to children from 1st June 2o2o. Please follow the guidance published on 12th May https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-implementing-protective-measures-in-education-and-childcare-settings/coronavirus-covid-19-implementing-protective-measures-in-education-and-childcare-settings

This section will be relevant to early years providers that are employers, and that usually have a mix of public income (largely this will be funding for the free early education entitlements, also known as ‘DSG funding’) and private income (largely this will be the fees that parents pay for childcare beyond the free entitlements).

Childminders are less likely to be employers, and therefore are less likely to be eligible for support via the CJRS. Childminders may find the Self Employment Income Support Scheme more relevant. Maintained nursery schools should take account of the guidance in this section. For school-based nursery provision, please refer to the ‘schools’ section below.

On 17 March 2020, the Chancellor confirmed that the government will continue to pay local authorities for free early years entitlement places for 2, 3 and 4 year olds to support providers at this time. On 18 March 2020, the government also announced a business rates holiday for many nurseries in England for the 2020 to 2021 tax year. Read the guidance.

Early years settings should remain open where they are needed to provide childcare for the children of critical workers who cannot be cared for safely at home, and vulnerable children.

A private provider should only furlough employees, and therefore seek support through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, if they meet the following conditions:

If it is difficult to distinguish whether staff are funded through free entitlement or private income for the purposes of meeting the first 3 conditions as listed above, then an early years provider can access the CJRS to cover up to the proportion of its pay bill which could be considered to have been paid for from that provider’s private income. This would typically be income received from ‘parent-paid’ hours and excludes all income from the government’s free entitlements (or ‘DSG income’) for all age groups. In line with the conditions of the scheme listed above, providers should initially use the month of February 2020 to represent their usual income in calculating the proportion of its pay bill eligible to be covered by the scheme. Providers should adjust these proportions in subsequent furloughing applications if their income from the government’s free entitlements changes but are not expected to make any adjustments in relation to changes in parent-paid income.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-financial-support-for-education-early-years-and-childrens-social-care/coronavirus-covid-19-financial-support-for-education-early-years-and-childrens-social-care

Information on the arrangements for apprentices who are ready for End Point Assessment during the lockdown period continue to be updated by the Institute for Apprenticeships and FW Solutions will act in accordance with these guideline for apprentices in this situation https://www.instituteforapprenticeships.org/response-to-covid-19/