We would like to reassure all our ATCs, members and customers that we are closely monitoring the COVID-19 outbreak, and as a team we are working diligently and sensibly in line with the Government’s official advice.
The health and safety of all our staff, customers and learners is our upmost priority at this time. We are therefore working to minimise the risk of COVID-19 and have put robust contingency measures in place, which we will regularly review – the principal aim is safety and to ensure service continuity.
To facilitate this, we are working proactively here at STA HQ to ensure our staff are protected. Many are now working remotely from home; we’ve also suspended travel and provided extra support for those who remain in the office with increased hygiene and sanitisation facilities.
Further we have comprehensive IT systems in place with STA Online and Synergy, which will alleviate any interruptions with regards to course management, online learning and EQA and IQA assessments etc. For added assurance, both systems can be accessed securely from remote locations by our IT team to enable customer and maintenance support remotely, and if required we will implement a system of on-call rotations to ensure sustained support.
We also need to be mindful that as the days, weeks develop and the virus becomes more serious, we might all be impacted by forced school and business closures too with employees advised to self-isolate. This would have a significant effect on many of our ATCs, swim schools, Tutors, members and training partners (if it hasn’t already), so it’s important we all follow the guidance provided by Public Health England and put in contingency plans and procedures now to limit the spread of infection.
In accordance with our regulatory requirements, we recommend the following contingency arrangements:
• Internal quality assurance monitoring. With immediate effect, refrain from any unnecessary travel to areas that have been directly affected by the virus in order to conduct internal quality assurance monitoring activities. Instead, we would recommend that any monitoring activities are conducted remotely and documented on Synergy. Please refer to the FCO travel advice website
• Special considerations. To support learners, ATCs may need to apply for special considerations through the Synergy system. For example, if leisure centres, schools or colleges are forced to close while a STA course was taking place, we will be able to grant special considerations for the assessment so that the remainder of the course can take place at a later date – or there may be a need to delay an assessment from taking place. A special consideration can also be submitted if a learner is unable to complete their qualification re-take within the designated timescale, allowing STA to grant an extension
• Pool Plant / Swimming Pool Safety. Following consultation with Public Health England, PWTAG have issued advice here.
We also very much appreciate that the current unknown situation brings business uncertainty, in terms of loss of income and for how long. Therefore, in order to support our ATCs as much as possible during this worrying time, Safety Training Awards has made the decision to permit electronic theory delivery such as Skype and flexibility in training venues if leisure centres are not available, such as church halls. Hopefully this will allow ATCs to continue to deliver and offer our range of courses in a flexible way and meet employer needs whilst maintaining the high standards expected.
ATCs can offer the theory sessions via an electronic method such as Skype; learners will need to be viewed on screen and they must have the facility to hear and see the tutor at all times, as well as be able to ask questions. Learners will still require access to a resource manual – this can be a hard copy or e-manual – and learners must complete the learner portfolio and MCQ assessment where applicable.
However, a date for the practical aspects of the qualification must be arranged when possible, these may be over a course of days / week or a set date depending on the qualification requirements. In order to pass the qualification, learners must achieve all assessment criteria and therefore, the practical aspect must be taught and assessed practically. Due to safeguarding and resources concerns, it is not permissible to video the practical assessment aspects, these must be delivered and assessed face to face when it is possible.
As a final point, please may I reiterate the importance of familiarising yourselves with the following COVID-19 advice and please stay up-to-date with the situation as it develops.
REMEMBER: If you have a temperature of 37.8 or over, or a continuous cough that is new, you must self-isolate.
These are unprecedented times, and please be assured we have taken every step possible to ensure our continued support over the coming weeks and months.