South Devon College is preparing to welcome a new cohort of school leavers in September - but this year things look a little different.

Taster days for South Devon College will happen onlineTaster days for South Devon College will happen online

Early summer is usually a time for taster days and welcome sessions, where students visit the college’s Vantage Point Campus in Paignton to get a sense of what’s to come in the next stage of their education.

This year, these preparations will happen online, during an innovative programme called Head Start, which will be delivered via the college’s exclusive app, SDConnect.

Traditionally, taster days have an important role to play in easing the transition from school to college; providing reassurance to young people by answering questions and keeping them focused on their goals and ambitions.

While the college is currently unable to open its doors to this new generation of students, Head Start will enable the team to maintain its usual level of support to a new cohort of school leavers.

South Devon College's Head Start innovative programmeSouth Devon College's Head Start innovative programme

Head Start is an online programme which will take place throughout the next few months, with meaningful course-related activities and suggested preparations, the opportunity to get to know tutors, and receive pre-enrolment information.

Once courses start in September, students will be able to communicate with friends and collaborate with classmates through the app.

This online programme allows transitioning students to dip in and out of the content that would normally be available on a taster day and take this stage of the journey at their own pace instead of attending college at fixed times.

This flexibility has been enabled by the college’s app, SDConnect, that’s free for students and staff.

Since its soft launch earlier this year, the app has been used for real time class schedules and has provided a secure space for classes and their tutors to communicate about their studies. More functionality is planned for release over the coming year.

Head Start and the SDConnect platform will allow for improved monitoring of progress and additional support for students that are struggling with getting to grips with the next stage of their studies at the college.