Article May 25, 2021
Don’t believe us? Hear from those who have been there, done that!
Just as we have different preferences when it comes to food, clothes and careers, our children have varying needs, likes and dislikes. For anything in life, there is never a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution, and it’s about finding the most suitable option for every individual. Yet, something that has arguably failed to evolve over the years in a mainstream sense is education. Despite pockets of innovation and transformation, there remains an archaic view and expectation for children to attend a bricks and mortar school – regardless of whether they are excelling or floundering. However, the pandemic has shone a light on, and accelerated, the need to consider alternative options out there. Many parents will be unaware of pre-existing online schools and hybrid environments which may in fact, be better suited to their child’s needs.
While we of course will always promote the benefits of online schooling, it’s important to give those who have first-hand experience a voice to share their stories. So here, we speak to three of our alumni students, who explain the reasons behind why they joined InterHigh, the skills they gained and how online schooling has helped them both through their educational journey and into the world of work.
For alumnus, Kieran Bjergstrom, his father often travelled for business and would bring Kieran with him to help develop an international perspective. Due to a need for more flexible education options, and Kieran finding school unengaging despite being academically capable, the family believed InterHigh could address both issues.
Kieran discovered that the flexibility of his learning meant he could spend more of his time on learning, with minimised disruptions that he once found in the ‘busy’ classroom environment. Speaking about his experience, he explains: “At InterHigh, my academic skills were allowed to develop ahead of the usual pace, which would have been unfeasible in an ordinary school. There was also greater opportunity for more individual engagement due to smaller class sizes and one-to-one feedback was consistently available.
“I built strong self-study skills due to the need for independent work and research, discovering areas and topics I was interested in, and then developing a deeper understanding in them. I think you also become confident in introducing yourself and building interpersonal relationships on limited shared experience; realistically you are not, as you would in a physical school, actively doing things with your peers, yet you still find ways to build relationships.”
Following InterHigh, Kieran undertook the International Baccalaureate and went on to study Theoretical Physics at university. After this, he completed a PhD in Quantum Physics and Business, and now runs a Quantum and Emerging Technologies consultancy company. He said: “Overall, I developed the spirit of pursuing my interests with a view to success whilst at InterHigh, and I have applied this mentality since. Combined with the ability to self-motivate, it has enabled me to convert my interests into a feasible business and combine career success with interest and intellectual challenge.”
After experiencing bullying at school and being diagnosed with depression and anxiety at age 14, Amy Lally joined InterHigh:
“I felt like I had more control over my life for the first time in a long time. I enjoyed the flexibility; all lessons were recorded, and everything being online was so freeing. If I wanted to have a break and go for a walk or cycle to clear my head, I could. Staff were also welcoming, encouraging and affirming. It was drastically different to that of my experience in a mainstream physical classroom and helped me gain more respect for adult authority. Rather than experiencing yelling and detentions, there was mutual respect between teachers and students.
“The flexibility of learning online definitely impacted how my life turned out – I started working and travelling alongside my studies at just 14 and therefore developed an idea of the career I wanted to pursue very early on.”
“I’ve continued studying online via the Open University and work as an actor on the side. Every day brings something new; I recently shot a TV drama in Yorkshire, have almost finished the first draft of my novel, and have even founded my own film production company, Lally Films.”
When talking about the skills she learnt along the way, Amy said: “I learnt to be more independent with my education, rather than being so dependent on others. I found myself doing research outside of school on topics that we had studied because I developed a genuine interest in my subjects. When I started studying online, school became about learning, not about popularity, playground drama and peer pressure, which are the usual things that shape our experience at school. My social life thrived, and I made friendships with others across the world.
“For me, online schooling was one of the best decisions you could make. Life shouldn’t be confined solely to education – it should be a mix of discovery and enjoyment and you can attain that flexibility, freedom and individualised learning by joining InterHigh.”
Matthew Ramsden is a company director of his own business, AvionCarte which makes and distributes snack boxes. He believes that being so independent helped him achieve his goals, and in part, this was due to the nature of InterHigh and the flexibility it provides. After experiencing bullying throughout primary and secondary school, Matthew trialled homeschooling before turning to InterHigh.
When considering a virtual learning environment, Matthew said: “The flexibility was key for me – I was able to learn whilst working or travelling with family. Being able to just have the time either side was great. Staff at InterHigh were more caring and considerate, and planned lessons around class needs. There was flexibility with workloads, and they made sure that every topic was understood. Tasks and learning objectives were good and concise, which made it easy to follow, and pastoral care was run by a great team who were able to support with almost anything.”
“Developing critical thinking and independence enabled me to be more academic. The same goes for my social skills, in terms of confidence and adaptability in communication. Retrospectively, my time at InterHigh prepared me for the Covid-19 pandemic and the immediate interchangeability we needed to keep running as a business.
Throughout the past year, the pandemic has presented us with so many different challenges – and opportunities – but it is likely that a whole range of students will have had mixed educational experiences. While some will have unfortunately struggled to engage with their learning, and may have had limited contact with teachers, others will have unearthed a new way to learn, in a different environment to their ‘norm’ which in fact suits their needs better.
For any students who might be considering moving to online schooling on a more permanent basis, Matthew shares his advice: “Take the experience from your online lessons but imagine a lesson in your relaxed place that is well planned and executed, with the recordings available to you when you need them and extra support when you need it. It happens for you, not to you and this is why I wholeheartedly continue to recommend InterHigh.”