PETER Symonds College is set to offer its students just six hours of teaching per week when they return in September, blaming Covid restrictions.

The move has upset parents, with one saying it would not only impact students’ education, but also social lives.

The college, one of the top-performing state sixth forms in the country, says it has planned for “a range of scenarios” for September.

A spokesman today stressed the measures were a “temporary starting point and will be reviewed at the earliest opportunity.”

The proposed offers each student a two-hour face-to-face lecture per subject between Monday to Friday compared to the usual 20 hours-plus.

This is to keep in line with the Government's latest guidance for FE Colleges: if it is not possible to 'bubble' year groups, one metre social distancing should be in place.

One parent, who asked not to be named, said: “Hampshire is a Conservative council, we have a Conservative prime minister and education secretary who have said that all students will go back full time as of September.

“But Peter Symonds has unilaterally decided to keep two-metre social distancing and only give A level students six hours of lessons per week. How are our children expected to compete with the rest of the country on that?

“They’ve decided to stick to social distancing for some reason although I don’t believe any other schools are, as they’ve been given a way out.

“It means they don’t have that very necessary time with friends to talk, laugh and de-stress, basically they’re in isolation for the foreseeable. I know a lot of the kids are really worried about this and Symonds has basically just left them to worry about it by themselves until September, they’ve been pretty much no help since March, no in school lessons at all and precious view zoom ones.”

Principal Sara Russell said: “Peter Symonds College has planned for a range of scenarios to ensure that students are not disadvantaged by any changes to national or local guidance that may take place either over the summer period or during the coming year.

“The plans we have in place range from a full return to college, to a return to full lockdown.

"Equally should some middle ground of a partial return to distance learning be required, Symonds is well prepared to ensure teaching and learning continues for all students.

“The timetable we have developed for the start of September is designed to ensure face-to-face contact for all students every week, while minimising the number of students on site at any one time so that the college can adhere to the current social distancing guidance.”

Alongside face to face lessons in each subject supplemented by additional guided learning, tutorial, sports teams and enrichment will all continue to take place.

Ms Russell continued: “Teachers will be setting a variety of learning activities for students to undertake at home. These have been carefully designed by subject departments to ensure that our students receive their full curriculum.

“I have been so impressed with how our staff and students have responded to the difficulties of lockdown: rising to the challenge of remote teaching and learning, and ensuring that those who needed additional support were able to receive it.

“Our careful, cautious and measured approach is how we intend to start the college year, moving to full lessons as soon as circumstances allow. Our approach is typical of colleges in the sixth form college sector, who have found creative solutions to managing the return in September.

“We share every parent’s wish to return to more normal times, but have shared our planned approach with students and parents before the Summer break as we believe it is important that they are well prepared with what to expect in advance of the Autumn term.

“We very much see this arrangement as a temporary situation and hope that during the summer break lock-down restrictions might be eased further to allow more students to be safely on site at any one time. We are keeping this situation constantly under review, because we are extremely keen to have all students back in College full time when it is safe to do so.”