The Foundation Studies team are adapting to new challenges

Due to the effects of the pandemic, Truro and Penwith College’s Foundation Studies teaching and support staff were thrown the unusual challenge of working out how to host a number of activities that are normally held throughout the year in a way that meant students could stay physically active and develop their skills while staying safe.

Foundation Studies students are often the most active group at the Ofsted Outstanding College and in a normal year students attend a number of residentials throughout the year, take part in events, obtain a local work placement through the College’s dedicated job coach and even take part in weekly outdoor activities such as surfing, coasteering and abseiling, all while learning in a supportive and fun work environment.

Alongside the Foundation studies team, Chris Scriven, Deputy Team Leader for the course, spent the summer holidays taking on the challenge of working out how to adapt the courses regular activities to work for the current situation. New activities planned had to follow the current measures in place while also ensuring that the students weren’t missing out on any of the usual skills that they get to develop throughout the year.

The team definitely delivered with some really creative ideas including a change to the Outdoor Education classes for Access Skills Development (ASD) students. ASD students normally spend their lessons in Cornwall’s great outdoors, climbing, surfing, coasteering, abseiling and generally making the most out of their local environment. With travel not being a possibility at the moment, students are instead getting to grips with a different aspect of these activities and are spending their lessons learning about the equipment and kit they would use. Students and staff are definitely feeling the benefits of this new way of learning, with the opportunity for students to take a more in-depth approach to the activity.

Foundation Studies Lecturer Mark Palmer who teaches outdoor education to the students shared of the benefits he has seen so far. 

It’s really working for us what we’re doing now

Foundation Studies Lecturer Mark Palmer

In a lot of ways this process of being onsite is brilliant for us and the students as they’re getting a chance to really get a feel for all of the kit we use, which they haven’t been able to do before’.

Students are also still taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh (DofE) award this year, which is an integral part of the Foundation Studies programme and has even seen three of its past students win the highly sought-after gold award. Although this year’s challenges look slightly different with no overnight camping on the cards for now, students participating are still taking part in all other aspects and will even receive a special DofE covid certificate this year.

The College has also adapted in other ways to ensure the students are still developing their learning and social skills alongside the more physical aspects of the course. The Access Inclusive Learning students who would normally complete internships and charity work throughout the year, have instead started a flower sale enterprise on campus to learn fundamental job skills that they will carry with them after College.

Theresa Edwards, Programme Team Leader for Foundation Studies, has been really impressed with the team and all that they have achieved, ‘I am incredibly proud of the staff for all of the adaptations they have had to make so that the students continue to have a fulfilling curriculum’