Sunderland College and Northumberland College will continue to support vulnerable young people and students of key workers during the COVID-19 outbreak.

From Monday 30th March 2020 campuses at Bede in Sunderland and Kirkley Hall in Northumberland, will become lead sites for Education Partnership North East supporting these students from the Scottish Borders to Tees Valley. All other face-to-face delivery will cease with a focus on supporting our students remotely where practical and possible.

Those students in Northumberland who fit into the government category that should be supported through face-to-face delivery will convene at Kirkley Hall, whilst students from Sunderland and Hartlepool will meet at the Bede Centre. All students who continue to engage in activity on college sites will be supported with organised transport.

Sunderland College’s City and Washington Campuses will close completely, as will Hartlepool Sixth Form and, while Northumberland College’s Ashington Campus’ main building will remain open due to ongoing redevelopment, periphery buildings on-site and the Berwick Campus will be shut until further notice.

Anticipating the Government’s guidance regarding what constitutes a key worker, college staff have contacted parents this week to establish their support needs and to build a picture of who these students are, their requirements and when they will be on-site. To ensure footfall on campuses is

minimised during recommended social-distancing, upcoming student examinations are cancelled until advice is received from the Government, Ofqual and awarding bodies.

Ellen Thinnesen, CEO at Education Partnership North East, said: “The Government’s announcement was not a surprise and we were well prepared for it.

“We take our civic duties very seriously and we will not completely close our doors. I am very clear that our purpose and duty more than ever, is to provide a vital service to those vulnerable young people and children of our courageous key workers, whilst also supporting as best we can, our other students.

“Once we have a fuller picture of our vulnerable young people and the children of key workers, we will be working with our current student transport providers to put appropriate transport provision to the lead campuses in place.

“This will be an extremely anxious time for our students, and we will do all we can to keep our students calm about their futures and engaged with remote learning activities.”

Face-to-face delivery of higher education and adult learning courses at Sunderland College, Northumberland College and Hartlepool Sixth Form will cease, with learning moving to remote learning. Remote learning tools will be used to support apprentices with their off-the-job training.

Looking ahead, the college recruitment activities will continue with online interviews and innovative virtual open days being introduced, with remote advice sessions for schools and potential applicants being established.

Why Education Partnership North East (EPNE)?

Highly commended - Employer of the Year, Sunderland Echo Portfolio Awards 2019

Engagement with Employers - Association of Colleges (AoC) Beacon Award 2017

(Sunderland College On-programme Survey 2017)

Selected by DfE for 2021 T Level pilot to deliver the new high-quality technical qualifications.

98% overall employer satisfaction - Employer Survey 2018/19