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FAQs 2020/21

All Classes

When do weekly classes start?

Weekly classes will begin in w/c Monday 28 September.

Why are they online or on Saturdays and in holidays?

With the full return to our 1600 school students to school in September and the stringent guidance on cleaning and considering the health and safety of all involved, it is not appropriate for us to run evening classes in school on weekday evenings, at this time. We will be reassessing this, in line with the government guidance, and hope to return to evening classes in school in January 2021, if appropriate.

How many weeks are the classes?

Online classes last for 10 weeks, in school classes last for 8 weeks, during the Autumn Term. Both have a half term break in w/c 26 October 2020. We hope to run classes for 9 weeks in the Spring Term and then for ten weeks in the Summer Term. We are starting each term slightly later than usual to give us time to assess the current situation with regard to government guidance.

Why do 8 week in school classes and 10 week online classes cost the same?

The classes cost the same because in school classes attract additional costs for cleaning and site supervision.

Why are the weekly classes shorter than usual?

We are unable to provide a coffee break for in school classes, although you are welcome to bring refreshments with you and may have a brief break in the classroom. Our tutors have found that 1.5 hours is the maximum length of time which is appropriate for online classes.

Where has my level gone? Why aren’t you running every level?

As you will appreciate, we are dealing with an unprecedented situation and have had to make difficult decisions accordingly. We do not have the usual opportunity to assess the viability of smaller levels over time. We have analysed attendance over recent years, discussed with tutors and used your responses to the questionnaires to arrive at the levels which we are advertising.

Why are you advertising more limited places on each course?

We are advertising limited places on online courses partly because of manageable numbers on screen. However, as with the in school classes, we are limited by the numbers of socially distanced adults in a classroom, as we intend for the online classes to return to school when possible (except for one online Italian Beginners class). As you know, we will have all our 1600 school students in school from September and we have calculated that, with the numbers of tables and chairs taking space in the classrooms, we can fit a limited number of socially distanced adults at 2m apart. We will keep waiting lists and, if guidance changes, we may increase the number of places on courses, if appropriate. Please rest assured that we will be working within government guidance at all times.

What if my class has sold out?

We will keep waiting lists, as usual, and if places become available or circumstances change, we will be in touch.

We stopped halfway through the year, will I be left behind?

No, our intention is for classes to resume at roughly the level at which we had to stop them in March 2020 (with the exception of the new Elementary French and German courses). Please check the description of each level carefully, to make sure you are enrolling at the most appropriate level for you. You are, of course, welcome to begin a level again, if you feel that that is most appropriate for you.

What is your refund policy?

It is usually our policy to only offer a full refund if a class does not run due to low numbers or tutor illness. In order to sustain the viability of the programme, partial refunds will not be given except in exceptional circumstances.

Online Classes 

Help! I have never been to an online class, won’t it be difficult to join?

"At first I was quite apprehensive with regard to online learning, but was astonished at how easy and rewarding the whole experience rapidly became".   Vince

The quote above is from one of our students who took up the offer of the summer opportunities direct with tutors. Each tutor is using an online platform which they have practised with in advance. You can join the classes online on a computer, laptop, tablet or iPad with a webcam or ‘selfie’ camera and may not even have to download anything to join, but can just click on a link in an email. You will need a pair of headphones with a microphone (most phone headphones have this feature) or speakers on your device.

Then all you need is a reasonable WiFi signal and somewhere comfortable to sit, where you can write, if you want to take additional notes. We will provide a ‘How To’ nearer the time and your tutor will be able to support you though the simple process of joining a class. Our plan is to run test sessions for those who would like it, with Pippa.

What platform will my tutor be using?

Tutors are using a variety of platforms, mainly Zoom and Microsoft Teams. Each tutor is using the platform which they feel suits their style of teaching and with which they are comfortable.

What should I expect from an online class?

An interesting and social learning experience, in a slightly different format from usual! Your tutor will use different resources, depending on their preference (and you may well have experienced their style of teaching previously). So you may find that you are emailed worksheets to use at the start of the class, or asked to do pair work via Zoom, or work together in one big group, with individual students ‘coming forward’ to speak or provide answers at any given time. You will soon find that the online classes are much more similar to the ‘in school’ classes you have been used to than you thought.

The online tutorials allowed us to keep going and keep practising, which is so important when learning something new - especially a language. It was a little strange at first, but we soon grew used to it and enjoyed it very much.  I think we bonded more as a group because we could see each other's faces and have a chat at the end. Our tutor was very good at sending supporting documents for the lesson and homework resources which were very useful.  I feel as if I've learnt a lot!".    Elaine

In School Classes

What are you doing to keep us safe?

Please do not come onto the school site if you or a member of your household is displaying coronavirus symptoms. 

We will be enrolling to a limited number of students, to allow us to have students sitting 2m distant, with the tutor facing them, as per the published guidelines for community education (July 2020).

Weekly classes on Saturdays will begin at staggered times, to minimise passing on corridors, where possible. We will ask all students to walk on the right hand side of corridors, so that if you do meet any other students, you are at a distance from each other, as you would be passing in a street.

Some classes may be asked to enter school through a different door, rather than using the main Reception doors. All attendees will be given clear directions and we will make sure that classes are suitably signposted.

We have roomed the classes in our largest classrooms and classes will not follow each other in to classrooms which haven’t been cleaned between use, with the exception of guitar, which does not use tables and will use different chairs for each class.

We will be publishing strict protocols regarding handwashing/use of hand sanitisers etc. There are many hand sanitising stations around school and we would ask all attendees to use these on arrival and leaving, and as required.

There will be no sharing of resources, until guidance shows that it is safe to do so. Tutors may hand out paper copies of worksheets, for example, but following strict guidelines around hand sanitising.

We will be engaging with the NHS Test and Trace programme. By enrolling in an ‘in school’ class, you are agreeing that we can share your data with the programme, if necessary.

Can I have a coffee or fill my water bottle?

We are not able to provide a café service at this time. To reduce corridor use and cleaning after classes, we would ask that you bring your own refreshments and do not fill water bottles at school water cooler during Saturday classes. For day workshops, classes will need to bring all refreshments and will be given a specified water cooler to use (with staggered breaks, if necessary).

What if I need the toilet?

We will designate the toilets near Henry’s Diner as the toilets for Saturday classes. These are being refurbished during the summer holidays, to improve hygiene and ease of cleaning. There are hand sanitisers outside both sets, and we ask that you use these before going to the toilet, and then wash your hands thoroughly on leaving. Arrangements for day workshops will be shared with attendees nearer the time. 

Do I have to wear a face covering?

At the time of writing, guidance does not enforce the wearing of face coverings. Unless that changes, we will not ask you to wear a face covering. If you feel more comfortable wearing a face covering, either to use the corridors or during your class, you are welcome to do so.

Can couples sit together?

It may be possible for couples or members of the same household to sit together, where space permits, but we would ask that you ensure that this does not reduce the 2m social distancing required with other households.

If these FAQs do not answer your question, please email and we will try and help.