Iron Mill College is here for you

We continue to provide the excellent training we’ve become so recognised for and help you to continue achieving.

COVID-19-Support-students-ironmillThroughout this challenging and unprecedented time, we remain here for you. We will continue to provide the excellent training we’ve become so recognised for and help you to continue achieving.

We are doing everything we can to retain normality for our students and prospective students and keep our learning interactive and experiential.

Our tutors are now conducting lessons through online platforms and we’re committed to providing you with the best opportunity to further your careers within counselling by rescheduling our CPD workshops and not cancelling them. We understand that throughout this time of uncertainty you deserve clarity so we will continue to address your frequently asked questions through our important announcements page and provide you with the following information on our upcoming courses and services.

1. Is the College going to stay open?

Happily, we are very well set up for continuing to operate during the coronavirus outbreak. We have an easy-to-use Student Portal with lots of learning resources on it, an online library for all students with free of charge access to a selection of useful, up to date textbooks you can access from home, and our tutors are already holding online live classrooms with existing groups, which are now fully in operation for the majority of courses at the moment, in response to this crisis. While face-to-face counselling training is our usual mode of delivery, our first priority right now is to keep everyone safe and at the same time minimise disruption to learning. Using online classrooms also means that if students or staff have to self-isolate but are well, they can still join in. Students also save their costs on travel and/or parking for a while. Our tutor team are being very creative with the use of our live online classrooms, and students are having some fun with it too!

Certificate in Counselling: While much of the course can - if necessary - be delivered in an online live classroom, including some types of skills practices, we are very much hoping that the group can safely start to meet together in a real classroom later on in the course, as coronavirus diminishes.

If that cannot happen safely by the end of the scheduled course, due to the advice we must follow from Public Health England, we will give you:
the certificate for your course on time (providing you have met the ‘attendance’ and assessment criteria)
an optional extra 2 days of face-to-face skills practice work attended at the college - these extra days will be scheduled for a later time when it is deemed safe for you to attend in person. These extra days will be optional and free of charge for the Spring Certificate students only; an additional certificate will also be issued for attendance at those days.

Advanced Diploma in Integrative Counselling: The start dates for these courses are in late May and early June (depending on your chosen group), and we intend to start them on time. All attendance will be at the College from the start unless we are otherwise instructed by Public Health England at that time, in which case we will start the course on an online learning classroom and join up together in person immediately that it is deemed safe to do so.

2. Will attending online affect the title of my award in any way?

No - your certificate and award will be exactly the same. Our professional bodies, who accredit or otherwise recognise our trainings, have all confirmed that while this unprecedented crisis lasts, colleges will need to work flexibly on both the delivery and assessment of courses, including use of live online classrooms where available. We agree with this stance, because it means keeping students and their families safe, and because it will enhance inclusion and access to training at a time when people will be becoming increasingly more isolated.

3. Will my course be cancelled?

At this point in time, we are fully intending to run all courses as planned on the scheduled dates; as stated above, that will mean that you join the group from home via our own online classroom if the start date is scheduled in a period of time deemed by the government/ Public Health England to be too risky for face-to-face training days. This is to keep everyone safe while causing as little disruption to people’s plans and learning as possible.
If we have to cancel a course before it starts, you will get a full refund.
If we have to cancel individual teaching days on a course that has already started, for example due to illness across the whole tutor group, we will use the scheduled ‘reserve days’ (which are built into all course schedules) to fill in the days missed.

As you will be aware, the coronavirus situation and the government management of it is changing rapidly each day. The above descriptions are an accurate description of our plans and intentions at this point in time. Should any of the above arrangements need to change, we will of course inform you immediately, and inform you of your options for refunds or alternatives.

If you have any further queries, please don’t hesitate to contact us by phone, email or through our social media platforms.

We hope that this answers some of the questions you might have, and provides some reassurance, and we look forward to seeing you at the start of your course.

What our Students have told us...

I was very grateful to everyone at Iron Mill college for setting up the Microsoft teams and thus allowing me to continue with my counselling certificate. This was a great relief to me as I am very keen to the Foundation Degree starting in September 2020. I was very grateful to my tutor for arranging a practise on the Wednesday evening prior to our first lesson online on 21.03.20. 

My IT skills are still in need of improvement and I was very nervous about being able to access my learning. I have to say a very big thank you to Jana and my fellow peers who were so patient and inclusive when I lost them at times on that first day. I must admit I found it very exhausting. It was nonetheless, precious to see my fellow peers and discuss our feelings in check in about the current changes due to the Coronavirus. We were able to continue with our studies, triads and partner work…For myself, it was definitely an opportunity to gain new skills and develop self-confidence with IT.

I am delighted to say, despite my initial fears and technical errors, I really enjoyed and benefited from my tutor’s excellent teaching and guidance and the warmth of support from my fellow students.
During our weekend, we were asked the question, "What is it like to be in this group?"

I wrote - Precious, humbling, safe, cherished, encouraged, respected and supported.
I was able to listen to my fellow peers, share with honesty, the challenges, sadness, fears and happy moments, they are feeling in these times. 
I would like to say a very big thank you to all the staff at Iron Mill, my peers and Micro-soft teams for making this possible.”

Jacqui - Certificate in Counselling Student 

The technical aspect of using Teams was not as challenging as I had anticipated and my first experience of using it was a positive one and the engagement of the group contributed to this. My preference is face-to-face teaching however I experienced Teams as a workable alternative in our current crisis.

Karla - Advanced Diploma in Integrative Counselling Student

“I have found MS Teams to be a really effective way of remaining connected to my counselling group, whilst still receiving a great teaching experience. It has also worked very well for the skills practice sessions.”

Sharon - Advanced Diploma in Integrative Counselling Student

“The Microsoft Teams app is a really good platform for online teaching. Nathalie has clearly put a lot of work into setting it up. It is a great way to bring everyone together. It's not quite as good as the real thing but an excellent alternative under the circumstances.” 

Sam - Advanced Diploma in Integrative Counselling Student

 “I found MS Teams to be an excellent teaching tool, enabling us as students to continue with our studies, connect with each other and keep on track with our studies.” 

Lin - Advanced Diploma in Integrative Counselling Student

"I am absolutely loving the TA Foundation Course. I am learning so much which is growing me as an individual and in my working life. Karen, our course leader has not only facilitated us in delivering the course content to a high standard but also in supporting each member of the course and giving careful thought to individual needs. The course is well organised and communication is always clear. There is a good balance between theory and practice which I can see has been well thought through.

Recent developments with Coronavirus has meant that the course is now online. I did wonder how this was going to work. Would it be as good? Would it be manageable?  I have to say, I have been amazed at how well it has worked. The delivery of the content along with the small group work and triads, flowed really well. I felt held and safe and able to engage much like I would if we were meeting as a group at the Iron Mill and I came away as usual, having learned loads and having really enjoyed it. It goes to show the amount of work Briony and Karen have put in to this to make it work, which I am very grateful for.

I hope this course will run in September. It is a great course and I would definitely recommend it, even if it partly needs to be online. I hope that the Advanced Course will be running too as I am considering continuing on to complete my full training in TA."

Libby - TA Psychotherapy Foundation Student

Feedback from staff

Initially I was quite sceptical about teaching counselling online, as I was concerned we might lose some of the relational depth and connection we experience in person. However, Teams is an excellent platform, which allows us to conduct teaching in ways that feel remarkably similar to face-to-face teaching. We have face-to-face check-ins, discussions and exercises, and I can also share my screen / presentation for students to follow along with the more formal teaching aspects. Students can continue to ask questions, either verbally or by writing a question into a chat box. The latter option has felt particularly helpful for students who might be more introverted and therefore might shy away from asking a question in class. We break off into smaller groups for exercises, and students have the option of calling me over to their group if they want additional input or would like to ask a question. It’s particularly helpful that in these small groups everyone can see each other on the screen, so the direct connection makes discussions flow quite easily and smoothly. I was also particularly impressed by how well skills practice sessions work in this format. Several students have commented on how helpful it has been when observers have muted themselves and turned off their video, as it allows counsellor and client to feel undisturbed, while still benefitting from an observation. The facility to video-record sessions has also been a real bonus, as counsellors can watch back their own sessions, which is an invaluable learning opportunity. Overall I would say that this new online environment has added positive new dimensions to my classes.” 

Nathalie Asmall - BA (Hons) Course Lead, FdA and Advanced Diploma Lecturer

“We were a few ‘Microsoft Teams’ virgins but what became quickly apparent was that the platform was straightforward to use and easy to navigate for all. I have also seen the students being really supportive of each other and those with prior professional experience with Teams were helping others. There is a lot of laughter when we are using Teams so it is fair to say we have been having as much fun as when meeting in a physical room. I also appreciate the security of Teams when other platforms might be challenged with the traffic and data integrity.”

Jana Collins - FdA and Advanced Diploma in Integrative Counselling Lecturer

“I was a newcomer to Teams and have been grateful for the opportunities it affords to have flexible communication with both fellow tutors and students.  We have been able to use Teams to provide running commentary alongside teaching input as well as to hold students in checking in and out.  Teams has even allowed for skills practice in triads so that students can continue to access this vital aspect of their learning whilst socially isolating.  The feedback from my students has been positive, that in these challenging times they have been able to continue their studies and maintain their connection to their fellow students, which is something they really value."

Emma Worster - FdA and Advanced Diploma in Integrative Counselling Lecturer

 "I have been surprised by how much I have enjoyed engaging with the challenge of teaching online using Teams. At first I was sceptical that I would be able to recreate the same intensity of learning experience that is valued and prioritised in all the teaching at the Iron Mill. Being in the room with students, encouraging debate and responding creatively to questions is what I enjoy so much. As an artist, as well as a teacher, I am aware how limitations are often a stimulus to creativity. Teams has challenged me to rethink my teaching and in doing so I believe it has improved it. I find that I am able to, albeit in a new, highly focused way, create the same level of engagement amongst students and the same excitement about learning. Students feedback mirrors my own enthusiasm and supports what I am saying. Yes it is a different learning experience, and that is exactly what makes it so exciting!”

Sean Flynn - Certificate in Counselling and Advanced Diploma in Integrative Counselling Lecturer

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