Bristol Groundschool meets the challenges of lockdown head-on

Bristol Groundschool (BGS) is adapting its teaching style during lockdown to include online and recorded video lessons. This enables us to offer a distance learning solution to both new and current students studying at home via their laptops and tablets. Our distance learning suite now includes:

· A content generation and management training system

· Our online question bank – bgsonline

· Live webinars and recordings, all with digital rights protection

· The ability to work on and offline

When other training organisations have just closed their doors, BGS students are enjoying a connected, interactive experience.

Bristol Groundschool students have been attending live webinars on individual ATPL subjects since the beginning of April, and over 70 webinars have been shown to date. These webinars have been provided as an addition to the regular revision weeks – which have also now moved online – and at no extra cost to students. They are conducted almost exactly the same as in their normal classroom environment, including the ability for students to ask questions as they go along. This has allowed them to be as prepared as possible for their exams, which they’ve been able to resume earlier than any other student in the UK.

A view of the Bristol Groundschool office with covid 19 measures

Bristol Groundschool is the only UK Approved Training Organisation providing Austro Control exams this month (June) and this week (commencing 15 June) we have conducted over 240 exams. This follows a rigorous risk assessment and the introduction of a range of social distancing measures to its facilities

Alex Whittingham, BGS Director, said “The distance learning experience is much more complete now than in pre-COVID times. The nature of the webinars is that they are extremely thorough, more like a full-time sit-down course. We know the webinars don’t solve everything – particularly for people at work, which is why we are still running online revision courses. We are now working flat out to ensure we offer the highest quality of webinar delivery for our students, which were originally created at very short notice.”

Andy, a BGS student said “Thank you to you all at BGS for organising to run the Austro Control Exams this week. It would have been very easy to just shut up shop and just wait for guidance from the powers that be.

“BGS have done a great job in providing a safe environment for the students and it’s obvious how much planning and hard work has gone into the whole process. I would whole heartedly recommend BGS to anyone thinking of doing their professional ground school exams.”

A Bristol Groundschool staff member takes a students temperature before allowing entry into the building

Although only the live webinars can be counted as training for licence purposes, we have recorded them and made them available as self-study aids to BGS students. This is backed up with our BGS Facebook site where students can interact with each other but also ask BGS instructors questions whilst studying.

The reaction from students has been overwhelmingly positive, as the pandemic has caused only minor disruption to their training schedules, in contrast to students of other training facilities who’ve had to completely shut for the duration of lockdown. “The webinars are a really brilliant addition to BGS. I really enjoyed the Mass & Balance [webinar] just now.”

“It was just like sitting in the classroom. What a simple and great revision tool.”

“I personally love the little bits of “golden nugget” information they give out, which aren’t directly exam relevant but nonetheless fun to know. It really helps with both visualisation/understanding as well as spicing up an otherwise rather tedious subject!”

Peter Macdonald, Chief Theoretical Knowledge Instructor, said “Throughout the present crisis BGS have been proactive in providing our students and clients with training and the opportunity for sitting exams and we will continue to provide innovative and market leading training solutions.

“We are now providing online revision weeks, separately to the webinar programme, via a combination of webinars and filming instructors in the classroom. A Module 1 revision week started on Monday 08 June and a Module 2 revision week starts on Monday 29 June with more programmed, preparing students for forthcoming exams.

“The fact that we can provide full length, online revision weeks means that students don’t need to delay starting their ATPL theory; they can begin today and still get the same top quality training that Bristol Groundschool is renowned for.”

Looking into the future post COVID-19, Alex Whittingham sees the online teaching as a permanent feature, although that doesn’t mean classroom courses will disappear. “It means that we can deliver the highest quality distance learning courses to wherever the students are, with no requirement to travel to the UK. It is still likely however, that traditional classroom revision courses will exist in parallel once social distancing ends”.

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