A message from our Dean to our current students

23 July 2020

Brian-Rock-DET-DeanI am writing to you with an important update regarding the academic year 2020-21.

Despite the uncertain times that we have all faced over the past few months, we are proud of the efforts of our students and staff, meaning that our training could continue online during term 3.  We have continued to receive very high numbers of applications for our courses, showing the enduring appeal and relevance of our courses and training.  Much thought and consideration has been given to the shape and form of academic year 20/21, including engaging with our teaching and professional service teams and our applicants and students. 

With all things considered, we are pleased to announce that we will be starting the new academic year as scheduled in September 2020.  Building on the success and achievement of delivering all our educational activity online for the entire summer term of the current academic year (19/20), we will continue with all our provision being delivered in this way for in the first instance the first two terms of the academic year 2020-21.  As the situation evolves, we may be able to move back to more face-to-face teaching in the course of the year.  We will communicate regularly with you ahead of and during your studies, to ensure you are kept informed of our plans. Specific course teams are looking at where it will be possible to convene face to face small group meetings and you will be advised of arrangements in due course. We will of course take into account the situation of our individual students and teaching colleagues to ensure no one is placed under undue risk. 

In making this decision, we have considered the steps that the UK government has taken to emerge from the lockdown in conjunction with NHS and Public Health Guidance.  We have also considered developments in the higher education sector.  We have weighed up several factors, including the possibility that the UK could encounter a second wave of infection, and the possibility that specific geographical areas if not the entire country could be placed in lockdown again.  As an NHS organisation, we have also given due consideration to increasing our face to face clinical provision, which many students rely on for placements.

We have demonstrated that we can manage digital delivery at scale with considerable professionalism and skill, drawing on the experience of delivering blended programmes for many years and from the online delivery of all our teaching for term 3 this year.  Our Pulse Survey showed high levels of student satisfaction (75%+) compared to many other higher education organisations making us confident of being able to achieve more in the forthcoming period. 

We have launched several projects and initiatives to build on our online delivery, to make the experience as positive and supportive as possible for students.  In response to student feedback we have received and drawing on best practice in the HE sector, we are developing the look and feel of our Moodle virtual learning environment to enhance significantly the user experience.  We will be making the Moodle App available to you, so you can access your learning materials more easily on mobile devices, offline and when on the move.  We have been developing innovative Zoom pedagogic models aligned to the Tavistock model of teaching, as well as making available over 200 video lectures with transcripts produced by our clinician-trainers, many of whom are leaders in their fields. Our new and exciting virtual community of learning will ensure you are actively involved in all our developments.     

There will be some changes to the shape and structure of your course/programme.  This might include shorter sessions or additional learning activity.  Specifically, we are taking steps to make the teaching load more manageable and sustainable for students and teachers, and are applying our experience from this last period to evolve our online pedagogy and teaching approaches. We will continue to listen and seek ongoing feedback about delivery of teaching throughout the upcoming period.  Further details on specific course plans will be communicated separately to you in due course.  We have provided even more support for the wellbeing of our students and we will continue to review and develop our provision as required. 

Come what may, we are ready, and look forward to supporting you to progress through your course and onto any next stage of learning.   We look forward to welcoming you again in September 2020.

Best wishes,

Brian Rock

Director of Education & Training / Dean of Postgraduate Studies.

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