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Further education colleges in push to reopen before September

The government wants colleges to open their doors to adult learners after schools have gone back. 

By Samir Jeraj

Further Education (FE) colleges are pressuring the government to allow them to reopen to adult learners earlier than planned.

Students at FE colleges are currently due to return fully in September, six months after they closed as part of the country-wide lockdown in response to the coronavirus pandemic. However, guidance from the government says that colleges can reopen for 16-19 year olds. 

The Association of Employment and Learning Providers, Association of Colleges, and HOLEX, wrote to Education Secretary Gavin Williamson stressing their adult training and education classes were as safe as those being put on in schools. They have asked him to reconsider allowing them to fully reopen immediately. 

The guidance from the Department for Education included steps that FE colleges need to take in response to the pandemic, such as staggered start times, reducing contact between people, hand washing, and promoting walking and cycling instead of using public transport. Personal protective equipment and testing are not key parts of the response, with government guidance suggesting that these will only be used in very limited circumstances, such as if someone becomes ill on-site.

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