Coronavirus: An Update…


Coronavirus: An Update To Accountancy Learning’s Response with the challenges set by it.

Unlike a traditional College set up, our training is designed for working with students from a distance. Distant but not remote!! We will, therefore, continue to provide tutor support “as normal” over this period of Coronavirus uncertainty and social distancing.

Ensuring the continuity of our normal work patterns

Since the Coronavirus “lockdown”, our whole team have been working from home – both the Operations Team and our Tutor Team – a number of our tutors have always worked from home.

Our telephones operate using a VOIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) system, so they work from home in exactly the same way as they do when we are all working in the office – so when you phone us, you shouldn’t spot the difference. Before the Coronavirus lockdown, we had started to introduce Office 365 and, when lockdown day came, we accelerated the whole migration process, which has now been completed. We have transferred the data from our office server to Sharepoint, so we are able to access all the documents we need remotely. For those not familiar with Office 365, there is a ‘Teams app’ that enables us to have our usual ‘first thing in the morning’ briefings (a bit like Skype or Zoom) as well as all our other ‘team meetings’. There is also a ‘chat’ facility to liaise with team members as needed. Our emails have also been migrated so that all of our systems are now on the cloud and independent of our physical office.

In summary, when you contact or phone us, you shouldn’t notice any difference at all……apart from the possible sound of children or cats in the background!

AL Staff Home Working
Three of our ‘Ops’ team home-workstations

Ensuring the continuity of our normal course delivery

Not only do we have our virtual learning environment for you to access your interactive on-line learning materials but, additionally, you have the use of traditional study manuals at Level 3 and 4. We have arranged with the publishers to post these directly to your home address – so do please update us of any change of address or if you need them to sent somewhere else.  The AAT online study resources are also available to you (provided you are up-to-date with your subs!?!)

All our tutors are super qualified and experienced in helping and supporting students either over the telephone, via email or via conference calling software such as Office 365, Skype or Zoom. These facilities will enable us to carry on working with you to ensure you continue to progress through your studies. We always try to maintain regular contact with you, however, in-between times; do please contact your personal tutor directly if you have any study query – that’s what we are here for. What tutors like even more is to receive a steady flow of progress tests and practices assessments from their personal tutor group for marking and feedback. (Don’t tell them we told you this!?!) These marked tests are the “proof of the pudding” in terms of measuring study progress.

In summary, you should have access to all of the learning materials you need to maintain your studies and keep to your learning plan.

However, we know that life is somewhat unpredictable at the moment – hence some weeks back we unilaterally offered all of our current distance learning students an extra month of study support for free.

Additionally, if any of you suffer any serious setbacks, or your personal circumstances mean that you will struggle to maintain your normal level of study during the Coronavirus lockdown, please liaise with us to discuss a formal course “pause”. This means that when you are in a position to re-start your course, you can simply continue from where you left off.

If you have any concerns with your studies and you would like to discuss your options, please contact the Learner Support Team on [email protected]

Apprentices (Devon, Cornwall, Somerset)

Although all “drop-in” sessions at our course venues have been cancelled during the Coronavirus “lockdown”, the sessions can still take place, “virtually”. The tutors are still available on those days for one to one support and are encouraging their apprentices to attend the “drop-in” sessions on Microsoft Teams. Some do this using the video function and some simply use the chat function. In addition, tutors will maintain regular weekly contact with their apprentices on a remote basis, as described above.

We are also in the process of establishing a live progress report spreadsheet for each employer on Sharepoint, where tutors will record their weekly contact with apprentices and their progress, using a RAG (Red, Amber, Green) rating to more easily identify that good progress is continuing to be made. These spreadsheets will be shared with each employer, so they have live updates on the progress of their apprentices. For those apprentices that are furloughed, this is still treated as “paid employment” and your apprenticeship studies can continue. It could be a great opportunity for some of you to really crack on with your studies and your portfolio of Reflective Journals.

For those employed and thinking about commencing an Apprenticeship, we can actually get you started, even now, on a remote basis and have in fact been able to complete the “sign-up” for a few apprentices over the last couple of weeks, allowing them to get down to studies now, rather than delay.

AAT Exams

As you will know, due to the Coronavirus, the AAT has cancelled all exams until further notice. You will, therefore, need to be prepared to study more than one subject at a time. This is no different to what one used to have to do in the past. AAT exams used to be in just June and December and so often one would need to sit two exams at each sitting. Under the ICAEW exams, one had to sit all 5 exams over the space of 2 ½ days!

When the Coronavirus lockdown ends, we will probably delay commencing our apprentice drop-in sessions in order to allow us to run more exam sessions each week and clear the backlog in exams. Please liaise with your tutor to agree on a sensible revision process so that you can catch up on your exam sittings as quickly as possible, but sensibly so you can still achieve your target mark/grade.

And finally…

A number of our students are not currently in work and their AAT studies are part of their plan to return to work or move careers. If at home, one can feel a bit isolated from what is happening – with this in mind, we have recently set up an Accountancy Learning Student Group on Facebook, where you can liaise with fellow AAT students and catch up on updates, tips, fun things – over the next couple of weeks, we’ll be introducing tutor videos and competitions (with prizes!). If you haven’t done so already, do head over to this site and request to join.

We’re sure you are all fully aware of the current government guidance on Coronavirus, but for more information about the current situation, please click here

We would encourage you to be aware of the symptoms of Coronavirus so that you may be able to spot them either for yourself, your colleagues or a family member. These include a cough, fever and difficulty breathing. Please see the NHS guidance or the PHE website for further details.

Stay safe and keep washing those hands!

Prue and Simon
Accountancy Learning