Staff within the Marketing team at City College Plymouth have been sharing their experiences of hosting a successful virtual open day with further education colleges across the country.

Unable to host its annual spring Open Day due to the coronavirus pandemic, staff immediately began planning an event to engage with prospective students via Zoom. School-leavers and their parents were invited to sign up for a subject-specific course session that was delivered live via the video platform on Saturday 25 April.

The sessions consisted of talks given by lecturers to inform viewers of their course options, local employers talking about career prospects linked to their industry or sector, and some featured current students who were happy to share their experiences of life at the College. This was then followed by a live question and answer session, with attendees able to ask further questions to support staff via the College’s live chat feature on the website once their session had ended.

Employers who gave up their time to support the event included: Ann James, Chief Executive – University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust; Jim Colwell – Assistant Chief Constable, Devon & Cornwall Police; Ian McFadzen – Chief Executive, Plymouth Science Park; Damian Dunne – Managing Director, the Barden Corporation; Jenny Bishop – Head of Marketing, Real Ideas Organisation; and Emma Hewitt – Skills Co-ordinator, Building Plymouth.

In addition to the different speakers, each session offered students the chance to see the relevant facilities via a live link-up to two members of staff at the Kings Road campus. Dubbed the College’s own ‘Anneka Rice duo’, Director of Marketing & Business Engagement, Pauline Hands, and Head of Marketing & Student Recruitment, Louise Greenleaf, were able to observe social distancing while dashing across the campus to provide a live feed of each area.

The successful event, which saw more than 120 prospective students attend sessions throughout the day, caught the attention of other further education colleges, who are keen to hold their own similar events.

Louise Greenleaf said: “After receiving requests from about 50 fellow college marketers, we decided to hold a Zoom meeting to share with others how we executed this ambitious plan. Colleges across the country are all feeling the impact of the lockdown and the difficulties this has placed on recruiting students and we are happy to share what we have learned – after all, we are all in this together.”

City College Plymouth is the number one College in the South West for the achievement of apprentices, students aged 16 to 18, and students of all ages studying level 3 courses. Find out more about City College online at www.cityplym.ac.uk.