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Catch22 praised for adapting learning in light of COVID-19

Two students smile as they work together at a computer. They are sat in a library and other computers can be seen in a row. One is sat in a chair, and the other is leaning over pointing to something on the screen. Overlaid is text that reads: "Catch22 College".

Catch22 has received its report following an interim Ofsted visit in September 2020. Ofsted full inspections were suspended in March 2020, due to COVID-19, and these interim visits are taking place prior to a return to full inspections in 2021. The report summarises inspectors’ findings from interviews with leaders, managers, staff and learners regarding Catch22’s response to COVID-19, within its colleges and apprenticeship provision.

The visit looked at what actions are being taken to ensure Catch22 is meeting the needs of students and that “they provide an appropriate curriculum that responds to the reasonable needs of learners and stakeholders and adapts to changed circumstances”.

The current challenges

Catch22 College students took a brief break in their learning, but all teachers and tutors were supported to work remotely, so that our young learners could continue their courses. Apprenticeship delivery continued uninterrupted in the main, with Catch22 being fortunate to not experience widespread breaks in learning and continuing to deliver training utilising technology.

“Teachers and trainers now use some aspect of technology on all programmes and feel that in overcoming the challenges they faced they have become more creative.

“Students report that they appreciate their studies more, having had an experience of not being able to attend college. They are very complimentary about the support that teachers give, describing it as ‘over and above.’”

Apprenticeship leaders have also adapted to employers’ own operational challenges when trying to keep apprentices on board.

“Apprentices’ progress has been largely dependent on their employment circumstances. For example, housing and property management apprentices are very busy at work and struggle to find time for their learning. Trainers have adapted their training, delivering shorter, more-frequent sessions, so that apprentices can accommodate these more easily into their jobs.”

Adapting our programmes

The report highlighted that Catch22 College students continued to study the same subjects, while also developing digital skills in several new courses:

“Leaders identified an urgent need to develop the availability and use of digital tools at the outset of the pandemic. They took steps such as providing the software needed for staff and students to continue teaching and learning online.”

And it highlights how Catch22 has adapted its programmes too, in the form of engaging in at-home project work:

“For example, mathematics teachers continue to develop students’ application of weights and measures through baking challenges that they can complete at home.”

Keeping everyone safe

Ofsted highlighted Catch22’s recent updates to safeguarding practices, which have taken place across all our services in the UK.

“Leaders report that their safeguarding system serves all of their students, including those who are highly vulnerable, for instance young people who are looked after, and those subject to a child protection order. Students and apprentices say they receive frequent welfare telephone calls and, where necessary, visits from staff in person.

“Staff are positive about the culture of safeguarding at Catch22. They have received updated safeguarding policies and training that reflect the changing circumstances this year.”

Finally, Catch22’s work in tackling online harms is being increasingly implemented across both our colleges and apprenticeship provision and was recognised for being particularly relevant over the last six months.

“Students and apprentices receive guidance on how to stay safe online, including how to participate in online lessons safely. Leaders have found organisations, including Social Switch, useful in training teachers, trainers and students how to share text and images safely when learning through digital media.”

The Social Switch Project is currently conducting research with frontline staff, including our teachers and trainers, and with young learners to build on our insight for online harms.

Responding to the report, Director of Vocational Training, Chris Stoker-Jones said:

“At such a turbulent time for everyone, it is so reassuring to hear that both our learners and our staff feel we have continued to provide them with a good experience, while ensuring they still feel safe.

As the next few months continue to bring new challenges, we will continue to ensure we adapt all our College and apprenticeship programmes to best meet the needs of our incredibly resilient students, staff, and employers.”

For those who faced initial issues with digital accessibility during their course, Catch22 was able to work with our partners to ensure every student was able to continue their course.