Coronavirus: Accountancy Learning’s Response and our comprehensive support for remote learning.
Unlike a traditional College set up, our training is designed for working with students from a distance. “Remote learning” that is not remote!! We have therefore been able to 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 first Coronavirus “lockdown”, our whole team have been able to work from home – both the Operations Team and our Tutor Team. In fact, 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 was completed within 3 weeks. We 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!
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 on-line 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, practice assessments and portfolio reflections and evidence from their personal tutor group for marking and feedback. 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.
If any of you suffer any serious set-backs, or your personal circumstances mean that you will struggle to maintain your normal level of study during the Coronavirus restrictions, please liaise with us to discuss a course pause or a formal “break in learning”. 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 your personal tutor on their usual email address or via Teams.
Day Release / Drop-in classes
Although all “drop in” sessions at our course venues have been cancelled during the current Coronavirus “lockdown”, the sessions are still taking place, “virtually”. The tutors are still available on those days for one-to-one support and apprentices are able 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 maintain regular weekly contact with their apprentices on a remote basis, as described above.
We have established 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 can be a great opportunity to really crack on with your studies and your portfolio of Reflective Journals.
Commencing an Apprenticeship
For those employed and thinking about commencing an Apprenticeship, we can get you started on a remote basis and are able to complete the “sign-up” on-line via MS Teams and our on-line apprenticeship platform, Bud. We can organise your initial learning plan to cover the key bookkeeping and computerised accounting skills at an early stage so that they can be applied at work as soon as possible.
Our Talent Programme is also fully operational, helping suitable candidates prepare themselves for employment and assisting them in finding a suitable apprenticeship in their locale.
Unlike the original lockdown, the government encouraged the continuation of technical and vocational exams for January. The AAT therefore continued to make exams available for those centres who wanted to continue to operate them, with appropriate health and safety procedures in place. We have elected to continue offering exams at our Plymouth, Exeter and Taunton and have strict procedure in place to protect candidates and staff.
We will continue to observe government and AAT guidelines. If, exams are at any stage cancelled, we will put all postponed exams on a priority waiting list for when they are recommenced. Please liaise with your personal tutor if you are concerned about this.
In the current circumstances, especially if working and studying at home, one can feel a bit isolated from what is happening – with this in mind, we have recently set up an Accountancy Learning Apprentice Group on Facebook, where you can liaise with fellow apprentices and catch up on updates, tips, fun things. 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 Covid-19 so that you may be able to spot them either for yourself, your colleagues or a family member. These include a cough, a fever and difficulty breathing. Please see the NHS guidance or the PHE website for further details.
Stay safe and well!
Prue and Simon