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Response to COVID-19

National Star staff wearing PPE protective masks and clothing
National Star is committed to proactively managing the current situation regarding the Covid-19 pandemic. As an education and care provider, National Star receives guidance from Government and local authorities. All of this guidance forms the basis upon which National Star makes its decisions.

Many of the infection control and testing procedures for students, residents and staff that we have put in place are above and beyond those initially recommended by the Government, Public Health England and Wales and the Care Quality Commission. These high levels of infection control will continue and will be reviewed as we receive further guidance in the move out of lockdown.

We are expecting students that are currently shielding to return to college at the start of the summer term and we are looking forward to having you all back. 

As the national restrictions ease, we will continue to open up the range of curriculum options to students, moving from cluster working including more community-based learning and workplace opportunities. In the latter part of the summer term we hope students will be able to work more flexibly across cluster groups to benefit from learning together before the summer holidays.

COVID-19 Remote Learning

We have been committed to enabling students to learn throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. To support students if they are required to self-isolate we will provide personalised learning and therapies alongside access to virtual sessions via Microsoft Teams. All learning activities are tailored to individual students and the goals and targets that they are working towards whilst at National Star.

All virtual sessions will be delivered via Microsoft Teams. If a student is unable to access Microsoft Teams independently a second ‘Parent/Carer’ account will be created to enable secure access to virtual sessions.

Our use of the 16 to 19 Tuition Fund

The 16 to 19 Tuition Fund is one-off additional funding from the Department for Education for the current academic year to support learners where learning was disrupted in 2019 / 2020 due to coronavirus.

We are using the funding to provide:

  • An additional Personal Learning Co-ordinator Tutor to teach small groups of new and returning students to recover lost progress towards Education Health and Care Plan and transition outcomes.
  • An additional Tutor and support staff at a community venue for learners on work-related learning programmes to work with small groups of trainees catching up on vocational skills development lost during absence.
  • Additional hours of emotional health and wellbeing support for individual learners and small groups to manage anxieties around returning to college and operating as cluster groups with reduced social interactions.
  • A part-time transition support post to work with individual learners and their local authorities to connect with living and occupation providers in their home area where transition has been affected due to being unable to make visits and conduct in-person assessments.
  • Supplementary travel training for learners where they require re-familiarising with routes previously learnt, but not used, during the lockdowns.
  • Additional Job Coach staffing to support transition for learners into the workplace where placements had been on hold due to lockdowns.

COVID-19 Response Policy

We have created a Covid-19 Response Policy to mitigate the risks associated with Covid-19. This outlines our approach to infection control, (including the use of face-masks), social distancing and minimising public access to National Star sites. A summary of this policy can be seen below and the full policy can be made available on request.

Specific risk assessments have then been undertaken which have informed how our policy has been implemented in various departments across the organisation.

In particular, the way in which National Star services are currently delivered has been amended, with staff and students now operating from within clusters as far as possible to reduce the risk of transmission. In addition, where possible, non-service delivery staff have been supported to work from home.

The situation is monitored on a daily basis and changes made as and when appropriate.

Summary of the Covid-19 Response Policy

National Star recognises its duty to reduce workplace risk to the lowest reasonably practicable level by taking preventative measures so that everybody’s health and safety is protected. In the context of COVID-19 this means:

  • Operating in specific ‘cluster’ groups to minimise contact with large numbers of people
  • Ensuring that all infection control procedures are effective by highlighting the importance of face coverings, regular handwashing and surface cleaning and by making sure that all of the necessary resources are readily available
  • Ensuring that all staff follow social distancing guidelines wherever possible and where these guidelines cannot be met, due to the practical nature of a particular activity, the organisation will ensure that appropriate PPE is made available
  • Supporting staff to be able to work from home when appropriate
  • Ensuring that all shared offices / meeting spaces have a specific risk assessment in place, staff work back-to-back or side-to-side (rather than face-to-face) whenever possible. Where necessary, screens or barriers are used to separate people from each other
  • Limiting public access to all National Star sites

In all risk assessments, National Star will pay particular regard to whether people are especially vulnerable to COVID-19.

Advice and Guidance

National Star’s position is constantly informed by published guidance from both Government and local authorities in both education and care, which is monitored on a daily basis.

Guidance from other relevant bodies, (e.g. HSE), is also monitored regularly.

Risk Assessment

National Star has adopted a ‘COVID-19 Working Safely (“COVID Secure”) Risk Assessment’ process. As part of this process the organisation will:

a) Follow the hierarchy of control:

Hierarchy of controls: elimination, substitution, engineering of controls, administrative controls, PPE

b) Consult with the staff Health and Safety group and elected staff representatives on:

  • Cleaning, sanitising and hygiene practices – to ensure that staff are working safely
  • Social distancing – as an important way to reduce of the risk of transmission between people at work
  • Organising the workplace – to reduce the likelihood that Covid-19 spreads and to allow everyone to work safely during the outbreak
  • Information and guidance – to ensure staff know how to work safely and understand the rules and guidelines
  • Wellbeing and support – to ensure that staff feel supported and listened to with their wellbeing looked after whilst continuing to work

c) Review the risk assessment guidelines regularly, especially if

  • New national guidelines are published
  • National or local lockdown restrictions change
  • The organisational approach does not work as expected
  • The required work changes
  • Someone in the workplace is diagnosed with COVID-19
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