Uxbridge College may have the doors to its buildings closed, but it is undoubtedly open for business as usual with a host of innovative adaptations, like schools, colleges, businesses and other organisations around the country and globally.

Students are attending virtual classes whilst completing real assignments and looking to their real futures, as staff continue to run classes remotely, keep the IT systems standing and provide advice and guidance on options going forward.

Students and staff have also joined efforts around the country to support others during the crisis, including Uxbridge College Hairdressing student, Harvinder, who doubles up as a neighbourhood champion. As well as keeping up to date with her classes and studies from home, she has been out to purchase essentials, collect medication and drop them off to elderly and vulnerable neighbours.

Uxbridge College has capitalised on its excellent relationships between staff and students, high standards, and already-outstanding online learning systems, to make the transfer from college buildings to home as fast and smooth as possible in these unprecedented times.

Dr Darrell DeSouza Group Principal and CEO of the merged college group HCUC said: “Uxbridge College and Harrow College may have gone almost entirely online but we are still absolutely open for business. There are so many heart-warming and successful stories and there has been a fantastic effort on the part of both staff and students - it is a tribute to the fundamental quality of our staff, our relationships with students, and our systems that we have managed this transfer to home working in this way. I have no doubt that this would not have been possible so quickly, or worked so well, without the highly effective systems which now operate on behalf of both Uxbridge College and Harrow College through HCUC.

“At the same time we are also continuing to plan for the future with applications for next year’s courses ongoing, both for current students, and for school students who will be finishing Year 11 and planning to come to College to study one of our courses.

“Whilst there is naturally tremendous anxiety for many about what their future in education holds, our message is clear: we can help! Anyone who wants more information about future courses should just get in touch.”

Lecturers are running a 10am online registration so they are ready and waiting to meet their students and start their virtual classes. Learning Resource Centres have increased their emphasis on Ebooks, remote study skills and online resources, and lecturers across the college are coming up with all sorts of innovative ways to teach and support their students. Examples include: Plumbing lecturer Dan Richards made and posted a video on the moodle online learning platform showing how to bend a crossover copper pipe Beauty Therapy students have been given a daily online positivity tracker to help them stay upbeat despite current events, and working on face painting skills at home Foundation Learning students were given an online tutorial on how to make pizza - then posted pictures of their cookery successes Engineering students learned skills through their lecture sharing drawings and diagrams.

Staff are using email, moodle and google, and increasingly Zoom video calling, and phone, chat and video calls on Microsoft Teams. The first live Zoom all-staff meeting for HCUC involved nearly 500 staff by videolink with 100 on chat. Those who couldn’t attend were mainly in (online) training or other online meetings. The meeting was led jointly by: Dr DeSouza; Pat Carvalho, Principal of Harrow College and Deputy CEO of HCUC; and Dylan McTaggart, Deputy Principal Curriculum & Quality for HCUC.

The standard 9am-5.15pm day is also in full operation to ensure both a high level of communication and to ensure staff down tools at the end of the day to ensure commitment to physical and mental health.

Uxbridge College and Harrow College each continue to serve employers and students in their local communities as well as benefiting from being part of HCUC college group.