Backstage Academy affirms its commitment to safeguarding students entering the live events industry, following selection by the QAA (Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education) to take part in a series of best-practice COVID-19 case studies. The institution was recognised by the assurance agency for the measures put in place following the outbreak of the pandemic.
Located at Production Park in South Kirby, Yorkshire, the higher education institution was included in a case study report, acknowledged by the QAA for its ability to adapt to the pandemic.
The Academy, which offers degrees, short courses and bespoke training for the live events industry, believes the special measures put in place for the next cohort of students in September will ensure “the long term survival of the industry, worth a vital £30bn to the UK’s economy”.
The QAA’s report focused on providers who overcame difficulties due to size, resource and specialisms, and recognised Backstage’s fast response to the pandemic’s onset in March, its scenario planning for current students and detailed contingency plans for new students in October.
In addition to the QAA recognition, the results of which can be found here, Backstage Academy has also recently been accepted as a member into the Independent HE group, which recognises training and regulatory compliance, institutional practice, and the professional development of staff.
Rachel Nicholson, Head of Backstage Academy, commented: “At the onset of the pandemic, we gathered together our leadership team to analyse the risk it posed. We modelled a number of scenarios to correctly respond to the challenges faced, and to ensure our student’s safety, which has remained our number one priority.”
She added: “We took the difficult decision to close the campus for students, but when we realised the pandemic would continue, we made sure we quickly transferred all of our teaching online to minimise the disruption to students.”
Since May, the Academy has been planning and implementing measures to ensure the return to campus in a few weeks is safe and enjoyable for new students. Nicholson said: “Following student feedback, the reinstating of the practical elements of their courses was one of our biggest priorities. We’re addressing this by developing a blended approach for next year, which will include socially distanced hands-on learning as well as the online delivery of some teaching, to build on the experience we gained during lockdown.”
Nicholson explained: “Lectures will be delivered online, enabling our large teaching spaces to be repurposed as specialist computer rooms, kitted out to conform with the government’s guidance on distancing. The use of these spaces, with students kept in ‘bubbles’, will further render safe the learning environment on campus. It will also ensure the courses continue to provide the excellent hands-on learning students love, the experiences of which are so vital for entering the industry.”
Simon Bullock, Quality and Standards Specialist at QAA, said Backstage Academy was assessed to see how it “adjusted their teaching and learning, assessment and physical facilities to continue to provide high-quality education while keeping students and staff safe.”
He commented: “We found that often the smaller size of the institution can be a real plus, enabling a more agile and tailored approach to group work, studio space, and assessment timetabling, for example. The resulting case studies, we hope, can guide smaller providers through the next few months, and give them a measure of comfort that what they have done is broadly in line with similar higher education providers.”
The QAA also recognised the institution for its communication with students, providing FAQs, staff forums and blogs for mental health concerns. Students who remained in accommodation were offered fortnightly one-to-one wellbeing checks from support staff.
Students looking to join the institution in October this year have been able to access virtual open days and participate in online chats with current students, academic and admissions staff.