Settling into the HEPO role, from home

I started my role as a Higher Education Progression Officer at Leeds City College in January. I came from a HE admissions background and the role was different to anything I’d done before. The setting of a college has taken some getting used to, although the size of it isn’t far off that of a university!  Leeds City College is one of the biggest Further Education institutions in the country and there are just under 9,000 students who live in postcodes defined as ‘UniConnect’ postcodes.

Just as I was beginning to find my feet three months in…. lockdown happened. Lockdown hasn’t been ideal for anyone, and it really doesn’t feel great when you’re in the first three months of a new job which has so much potential for you to make difference; however it has ended up being a real turning point for me in terms of idea creation and reaching out to students within the college. I feel very lucky that the college already had a culture established around contacting students online via Google Hangouts and students are familiar with using platforms such as Google Classroom. Through these platforms I have been able to set up two classrooms, one dedicated to planning for Higher Education and the other transitioning into Higher Education. So far we have had over 250 students engage with these classrooms which hold information, resources and activities on subjects ranging from how to apply for university, to looking after your well-being and living independently.

Within these resources I have recorded some presentations (which is something I had never done before) and I have also been able to create advertisements and animations using a website called Canva to use on my Hangouts group chat. Had lockdown not happened, we wouldn’t have had the time nor the need to create these online platforms. From my few months in college I am already seeing them as a fantastic tool for communicating with students and for promoting HE across the college. I have also been able to hold many virtual 1-1 sessions with students, and again I don’t think many of them would have been aware of my role and the help I can offer without the assistance of the Google Classrooms and an online platform.

Although lockdown has been challenging in many ways I think it has broadened our scope in terms of ideas and innovative thinking and has paved the beginning of a new way of communicating with our students.


Charlotte Garfoot, Higher Education Progression Officer at Leeds City College