2. Is the school fully closed now?
While our building has been closed since 23 March our school has never closed. We moved all our classes online from 23 March for all our existing students and successfully welcomed new students to these online classes in the weeks following the closure of the building.
The London Exam Centre has now reopened and the first exam took place on 9 June.
5. How will WSE ensure the safety of students and staff at the school?
We have a large number of safety measures in place in order to keep our students and staff safe. We stay up-to-date with UK Government guidelines and these measures may change slightly based on the advice in place from September onwards.
· Staff and students are required to maintain a distance of at least 1 metre from all other people.
· Hand sanitiser will be available in every classroom and throughout the school. All staff and students will be asked to sanitise their hands on arrival and re-entry to the building and periodically throughout the day.
· Each class will have a maximum size of 8 students so that we can ensure everyone maintains social distancing. Currently the guidance is to keep a distance of 1 metre, in addition to other safety measures.
· Class start times and finish times as well as breaks will be staggered to ensure that not all students in the school are in the Common Room at the same time. You will be told your class times and break times when you have been assigned to your class.
· Only one class can use the stairs at any one time, while maintaining social distancing.
· Weather permitting, you will be encouraged to take your break in our spacious garden. Even while in the garden, social distancing rules will apply.
· The classrooms that we use will be distant from one another to ensure separation of the students in different classes.
· Certain parts of the school building will be closed to students and staff.
· Classrooms will be cleaned and sanitised at the end of each day.
· Classes will be assigned a room, which will not change. Rooms will be large enough to accommodate all students and their teacher while maintaining social distancing. Students will be assigned their own desk in their classroom, which no other student will use.
· Each class will have one teacher to reduce the risk of contamination from one class to another.
· Where this is not against fire safety regulations, doors will be left open to ensure ventilation throughout the building and to reduce the need for touching door handles. Doors will be cleaned each day before students arrive and throughout the day.
· Students will be provided with their own copy of the coursebook. We will ask you to take this away with you after each class rather than leave it in the classroom.
· All supplementary material, such as handouts, will be provided digitally via our online learning platform.
· We will be moving many of our Reception services to an online portal. Reception will be staffed by one member of staff who will handle services that cannot be offered online. One student at a time will be allowed in Reception and we will have a socially distanced queuing system. Reception and other administration staff will be behind screens.
· We may introduce an appointment system for Reception and the Academic and Accommodation offices, if this is necessary, to ensure social distancing is maintained.
6. How will my first day in the UK be affected by COVID-19 precautions?
Before you arrive in the UK you must provide the address where you will be staying in the UK and your contact details, as well as details of your travel arrangements. You must do this before you arrive, but you can do it more than 48 hours before your arrival. You do this by using the Public Health Passenger Locator Form. Please make sure you have a printout of the completed form or access to it on your phone to show to the UK immigration officer when you arrive.
7. How will my first day at the school be affected by COVID-19 precautions?
If the course you have booked requires a placement test then you will do this online before your arrival. We already do this for our online courses. The speaking component of the test will be done via Zoom with the Director of Studies or another academic manager.
We will ask you to send us a scan of your passport so that we do not need to handle your passport when you arrive. However, if we still need to see your passport we will ask you to show it to us.
If you require a visa to study in the UK, we will ask you to photograph the visa page of your passport after your arrival in the UK and to email the photo to us.
Instead of a welcome talk, you will be sent a link to a video providing the same information.
8. What happens if I have to quarantine on arrival in the UK?
It is likely that you may not need to quarantine, particularly if you are travelling from a country with low instances of COVID-19, or from a country with which the UK has an ‘air bridge’ agreement. If quarantine is still in place we will arrange accommodation and meals for you and you will have access to online classes during the 14-day period.
If you are asked to quarantine then it means you must remain at your address in the UK for at least two weeks. There will be spot checks from the UK authorities to ensure compliance with quarantine. You will receive help and support from your host and WSE if you are required to quarantine.
During quarantine you will be able to join our online courses and the online social programme. That way you will still be able to start your studies and feel part of our school community.
9. What are the accommodation options?
We are able to offer our homestay option or a room in Queens Lodge, one of our student residences.
We have handpicked hosts who have spacious houses, most of which are within walking distance of the school, and who are able and willing to accept students.
10. What procedures are in place to make accommodation safe?
Hosts will provide you with their normal warm welcome. However, they will keep their houses safe by increasing the frequency of cleaning and providing hand sanitiser in their homes, which you are strongly encouraged to use frequently. In order to reduce the amount of sharing of space, we won’t be able to offer you an Independent Homestay option for the first two weeks of your stay at any host. To reduce the chance of infection you will not be able to move to a different host until you have stayed at your current host for at least two weeks.
Queens Lodge will be cleaned every day and we will provide hand sanitiser in the entrance hall, kitchen and your room, which you are strongly encouraged to use frequently. There will be some restrictions on shared space within the house. There will be a rota for use of the kitchen, and you will be provided with your own plate, cup, glass, knife, fork and spoon for your food.
11. What should I bring with me?
In addition to the items we recommend in the pre-arrival guide, we suggest you bring enough masks or face coverings and alcohol-based hand sanitiser to last you for at least a week. It is possible to buy extra supplies of these items once you have arrived in the UK. Face masks or
coverings should not be worn for more than 4 hours as they become ineffective after that time. If you feel you need or want to wear a face mask for extended periods of time, you may need two or even three for each day.
Please note that face coverings are mandatory on public transport in England and this includes your taxi from the airport. However, this does not have to be a mask. Anything that sufficiently covers your mouth and nose is acceptable.
You may want to bring some disposable plastic gloves for extra protection.
If you have a laptop or tablet we strongly recommend that you bring that with you as we will be providing many of our materials digitally rather than on paper.
Please make sure you bring enough pens and pencils and paper with you for your own use as we cannot share these items.
12. How will I get to and from the airport safely?
We will arrange a private airport transfer for you to your homestay. We can only arrange single transfers unless you are travelling with people you know. Please be prepared to wear a mask or face-covering in the taxi and to lift your own luggage into the back of the car. If you are unable to lift your own luggage the driver will do it for you but he/she may wipe your luggage with sanitising gel before handling it.
Please do not travel by public transport from the airport.
13. How will I get to and from the school safely?
Most of our hosts are within reasonable walking distance of the school. Current UK Government advice is that everyone should walk to cycle to work/school where this is possible and to only use public transport if it is absolutely necessary. We will endeavour to place you in a homestay that is within walking distance of the school, although, please note that the walk time may be up to 30 minutes.
If you have to use public transport, you must wear a mask or face covering otherwise you will not be allowed to travel. Please also note that buses are operating with a maximum capacity of about 20, so if the bus is full you will not be allowed to board.
We are timetabling classes to help you avoid the morning rush hour.
14. Will there be a social activity programme and how will it work?
The Social Programme has always been an important and popular aspect of our students’ experience of WSE, Wimbledon and London. While restrictions are in place we will be running a modified Social Programme that will have more of an emphasis on outdoor and online activities. The exact activities will be dependent on UK Government guidelines in place at the time. As we are operating a ‘bubble’ approach, we will be unable to offer activities that mix classes unless these activities are online.
We are unlikely to be able to offer trips to other cities such as Cambridge or Oxford. However, we may be able to offer trips to interesting locations within London, although these will need to be as a class, rather than a group of students from different classes. All activities will be risk assessed thoroughly before going ahead to ensure that any potential risk to students and staff is managed.
15. Will I be able to socialise with other students outside of class?
Break times and lunchtimes will be staggered to reduce the number of students congregating in communal areas. Our garden and Common Room are spacious enough to maintain social distancing.
Under current UK Government guidelines, it is possible to meet up to 8 other people outside. There are plenty of parks and green spaces in Wimbledon to allow you to do this. However, until UK Government guidelines are eased further, we ask that you do not socialise face-to-face with anyone not in your class or your household.
It is highly likely that soon there will be fewer restrictions on meeting other people. We will also create online spaces for our students to meet.
16. Will I be able to travel to other parts of the UK?
Travel by public transport to other parts of the UK is not advised at present as this could put you and other students at the school at increased risk. You may find booking a train to another city more difficult as there is a reduced timetable in operation and many train companies will only allow travel if you have pre-booked your seat.
The four nations of the UK are easing restrictions at different rates and guidance varies from one nation to the next. What may be permissible in England might not yet be permissible in Scotland or Wales.
It is likely, though, that restrictions will be eased soon.
17. How will I get food and drink while studying at WSE?
There are plenty of shops and cafés in Wimbledon where it is possible to buy food. Sainsburys supermarket is a popular option amongst our students and you can buy snacks and lunchtime food, such as sandwiches and sushi there. Cafés have reopened and are offering a takeaway service. Please note that they will be busier at lunchtime, so we recommend buying your food in advance, if that is possible.
The school Coffee Shop will be open for the sale of pre-packaged food only. We ask that you pay by card rather than by cash, if possible. The coffee machine in the Common Room will be available for use. We have switched off the water fountains as we feel these are a potential risk for the spread of the virus. However, bottled water is available in the Coffee Shop. We also recommend that you bring plenty of water from home.
18. What is the cancellation policy if I book a course now and then I am unable to attend or the school doesn’t open?
You can cancel your course for any reason up to 7 days before your course start date and receive either a full refund or a credit note, valid for 2 years from the course start date. If you have booked via an agent, please ask your agent for their cancellation policy.
If you cancel less than 7 days before the course start date, you will receive a credit note, valid for 2 years from the course start date.
If the school cancels your booking because we are unable to open, you can receive a full refund, a credit note, valid for 2 years from the course start date, or transfer to an online course for the equivalent value. If you have booked with an agent, please ask them for their policy if the school cancels the booking.
19. What happens if the school has to close during my course?
If a student or a member of staff contracts COVID-19, the school may need to close for up to 2 days for deep cleaning. During this period, all courses will be moved online.
In the unlikely event of a Government shutdown, all courses will be moved online, and you will be very welcome to stay in your accommodation and remain in the UK or return home and continue studying from there. If you do not wish to transfer to online courses, you will be offered a credit note valid for two years from your last day studying with us.
20. What happens if I get symptoms of COVID- 19 while studying at WSE?
We will be asking all our students to tell us immediately if they feel unwell, either by calling the school during opening hours or calling the emergency number outside opening hours and if they suspect they have COVID-19 symptoms.
If a student or staff member appears unwell in school, we may take their temperature using a non-contact thermometer and if we feel they are displaying potential symptoms of COVID-19 they will be asked to return to their homestay or home. The student or staff member will be asked to request a COVID-19 test as soon as possible and no later than 5 days. The test can be requested online. If the student or staff member tests positive, everyone in their class ‘bubble’ will be informed. However, for data protection reasons, we may not be able to tell you who has tested positive.
You do not need to pay for a COVID-19 test in the UK.
If you have symptoms of COVID-19 then you must self-isolate for at least 10 days. If you are with a host they will also have to self-isolate. If you are in Queens Lodge, then everyone staying there will have to self-isolate as you are regarded as being part of the same household.
During your period of self-isolation we will keep in regular contact with you to ensure that you have everything you need and that you are well. You can also keep in contact with us either by calling the school number within working hours or the emergency number outside of working hours.
If you need to consult a medical professional you can call 111 on your phone and trained professionals will be able to help you. We can help you with this if you need us to.
If you are displaying symptoms of COVID-19, we can help you arrange an online consultation with a medical professional if you need to speak to one.
21. What happens if I need to self-isolate because I have come into contact with someone who has Covid 19?
If you need to self-isolate because you have come into contact with someone who has COVID-19, then you can continue your class online. If your whole class needs to self-isolate then the class will continue as normal, but online. If you are the only person in your class who needs to self-isolate, then you will be offered an alternative online class. Please note that we might not be able to offer you exactly the same type of class if we do not currently run an online version. Up-to-date information on self-isolation can be found on the NHS England website.