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COVID Admissions

Information for University and College admissions teams 2022 Entry

Please see below a brief outline of the impact that COVID-19 had on students at UTC Reading from March 2020 onwards. As some of our students have been with us since KS4, the ongoing impact would have affected some of our current Year 13 students over the past two academic years, including when they were in Year 11. 

Teaching delivery and online provision

From March - July 2020 we were running an online programme and providing online resources and lessons for all students. Students had a scheduled lesson timetable with a teacher for teaching new content, monitoring learning and feedback. This timetable ran in the following format:

  • Live lessons ran from 9am-12pm every week day using Microsoft Teams on laptops (school laptops or student own devices, or other mobile devices that support teams).
  • Students could then choose to complete work in the afternoon, or take the afternoon for family time. We had aimed to give them a realistic balance between school based activities and time to complete their own hobbies or their commitments at home. Students also received some independent learning slots in the timetable so they have allocated time at some point between 9am-12pm where they could complete the school work and contact teachers for support where necessary.
  • Work was set as online activities and resources. Most of this work was set through Microsoft Teams as assignments, but we still maintained our usual online systems that the students are used to, such as virtual learning environments and websites with online submission and electronic feedback. 
  • For students who did not have reliable internet access at home we were able to prepare large paper based learning packs that they took home with them before the school was closed.  We had also maintained contact with these students to check on their progress and provide support where needed through their team leaders (tutors).

From September 2020 – December 2020, throughout the autumn term, students were able to attend full time classes at UTC Reading in the building for traditional face to face teaching. Any student who was absent for illness or COVID-19 related self-isolation has been able to access online provision through Microsoft Teams, which has been a blend of live access to audio from lessons and additional resources to support their learning. Although these provisions were available to students, this was still a largely disrupted time in their learning due to the self-isolation rules with whole class groups and year groups being off school for an extended period at one time and receiving only virtual or blended learning.

From January 2021 – March 2021 during the second COVID-19 lockdown, we again ran an online teaching and learning programme, providing online resources and lessons for all students (as previously). Students had a scheduled lesson timetable with a teacher for teaching new content, monitoring learning and feedback. This ran as previously via Microsoft Teams, but with timetabled lessons between 9am – 2:15pm. Students had exposure to every subject, however this was on a reduced basis in comparison to their usual school timetable.  

Throughout this spring term, vulnerable or key worker children were invited into class bubbles so that they could access learning and resources onsite, and we maintained contact with students regularly for support.

Disruption to normal application processes

Each year we plan and host a day on personal statement writing and setting up UCAS accounts for students applying to university, and CV writing for those applying to apprenticeships.

In May 2021, due to the ongoing impact of COVID-19 we were unable to provide the immersive experience that we would usually be able to give our students, and this was replaced by a virtual programme of support.

Due to this, and the fact that many university open days have been virtual, we do feel that our students have been disadvantaged in starting their applications earlier and from being able to make informed decisions. We have now been able to hold these workshops face to face during October 2021, however many university campus’ remain virtual open days only.

Providing predicted grades for applications

Our usual practice is to use pre-public examination data from the end of Year 12, an early pre-public examination in the autumn term of Year 13, and subsequent class assessment data to provide reliable grade predictions for university and apprenticeship applications.

Due to the COVID-19 lockdown in January, all of our formal planned internal assessments were cancelled during this time for our Year 12 students (current Year 13).

There has been one single formal assessment window in June 2021 where we have been able to collect assessment data based on real examination content for our students. There will be a second opportunity to collect examination based data in November 2021.

This has had a significant impact on teacher’s data gathering and predictions as they have not been able to collect multiple data points to make predictions of performance as accurately as previous years. The prediction process is also hampered by the lack of formal examination practise and skills building that students would normally have been exposed to. Our students have missed out on this practice through no fault of their own and we are aware that this may have negatively impacted their predicted grades as they are not as experienced in subject content or exam skills as their peers in previous school years would have been.

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