STEM Learning statement on COVID-19

Following revised guidance surrounding COVID-19 in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, STEM Learning confirms that, as an education organisation, we intend to proceed with planned face-to-face CPD activities at the National STEM Learning Centre (NSLC) in York and, through our network, around the country.  We will follow the relevant government guidance for each location.
 
We reiterate our commitment to taking necessary precautions to reduce risks to participants. You can read more about the risk mitigations we have put in place later in this statement.
 
Your attendance remains important
Here are five good reasons for you to attend our face-to-face CPD courses, even in these challenging times:
  • Providing an ongoing education to young people has been purposefully designated as a Government priority, and our STEM CPD is a key enabler.
  • Our CPD provides powerful insight and practical know-how proven to improve the quality of STEM tuition and, through that, to improve outcomes for young people.
  • Our CPD also has proven links to improvement of morale, retention and development of skilled teachers for STEM subjects.
  • We have good experience from the earlier lockdown and summer schools in delivering impactful CPD using revised approaches and Covid-19 risk mitigations.
  • Our CPD will provide opportunities to engage safely with other teachers, sharing experience, insight and good practice
CPD delivered face-to-face at the National STEM Learning Centre (NSLC)
Our programme of face-to-face CPD courses at the NSLC offers an immersive and transformative experience for teachers. We have a well-researched set of risk mitigations in place at the NSLC, which worked well during our Summer School programme.  We have now added a further requirement for participants and course facilitators to wear face coverings during all course sessions. Should the need arise, we have contingency plans in place to switch NSLC courses to be delivered through remote channels, so that participants do not lose out on the valuable insight and learning they will gain from our CPD.
 
CPD nationwide through our network partners
The support of our network partners for schools and teachers is more important than ever at this time. This support and CPD is integral to providing ongoing education to young people, not a nice-to-have addition. We are in close contact with the Department for Education (DfE) and they are expecting us to continue to deliver a high-quality service to schools and colleges through our network at this time.  Our CPD meets the current needs of schools and teachers, and we are continuing to see people are keen to engage in CPD through our network. Given the strength of our network and all the hard work over the last few months, we are in a strong position to continue delivery in an adaptive approach to meet need.
 
Looking ahead
In the summer term, we were able to offer remote CPD fully funded due to DfE subsidy.  This term, we will be continuing to offer generous bursaries for eligible schools for residential face-to-face CPD and reverting to a subsidised charge for our valuable network CPD offer. Please be assured that we continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation on a day-by-day basis.  We stand ready to adapt our approach to any revised situation or updated Government guidance and will release a further statement if that happens. 
 
If you have any queries arising from this statement, please contact us at enquiries@stem.org.uk
 
STEM Learning, 25 September 2020

National STEM Learning Centre – COVID-19 risk assessment outcomes

A full risk assessment for both staff and visitors to the National STEM Learning Centre has been carried out and below is a summary of the significant findings and control measures in place:
 
  • Movement around the building will be controlled to minimise mixing of people
  • Social distancing will be maintained to 2 metres or, where required, 1 metre with additional precautions
  • Meeting spaces will be used with low numbers so that social distancing can be observed and remote meetings used in preference where available
  • Entry to building has minimal social contact, including for collecting accommodation keys, etc.
  • Participants on courses will be encouraged to avoid public transport – parking (fee applies) will be available for the duration of courses
  • Additional bicycle storage has been made available
  • Food and rest breaks will be staggered for course participants
  • Increased cleaning of high-traffic areas and touch surfaces with disinfectant-detergent solutions
  • Additional cleaning during the day of handrails, door plates, taps, light switches, toilet flushes, coffee machines, table tops and other frequently touched surfaces.
  • En-suite guest accommodation bedrooms will be cleaned when participants are not present - all surfaces will be thoroughly cleaned and non-essential items will be removed from the accommodation.
  • Restaurant facilities will be open for guests but self-service function will be disabled
  • Teaching spaces and equipment, including laboratories and iPads, will have additional cleaning of surfaces between uses
  • Personal hygiene will be encouraged with hand sanitising stations at entries to the building. Additional handwashing facilities will be provided in laboratory spaces
  • The wearing of face coverings will be required for all participants and facilitators during all course sessions.  Standard disposable face masks will be available for all, and participants can bring their own face coverings if they wish.
  • For practical courses, individual sanitised PPE (such as safety spectacles, goggles and lab coats) will be provided, along with disposable non-latex gloves where appropriate
  • Arrangements will be made for isolation of any member of staff or participant who shows signs of illness, until they are able to return home
  • Participants on courses will be required to give contact details specifically for track and trace purposes, which will be securely held for up to 21 days, as required by UK Government guidance
Further information is available on request and, for course participants, detailed information will be provided in the joining instructions for the course.