Article June 20, 2024

High-quality, flexible education in remote Australia: Caitlin’s story

By King's InterHigh

Caitlin is fifteen and lives in a remote area in New South Wales, Australia. With the closest primary school being a 40-minute drive away from where she is based, education options were limited. Despite this, her mum, Heather, has always made it work for Caitlin and her two siblings.

Through the course of her academic journey, Caitlin enrolled in a mix of distance education, homeschooling, government school and private school. Her family also had a second home, five hours away from where they are based, where her mum and siblings lived for 5 days a week for years so that all children would have easier access to a physical school.

“To put it into perspective, we live 115 km from the closest town and that’s on a dirt road. It’s too far out for Catie to even catch a bus every day, the amount of travel is impossible.”

Flexibility to learn and live

Caitlin joined King’s InterHigh in 2022 for Year 10. While there were various factors that led her to enrol with us, the flexibility King’s InterHigh offers certainly played an important role.

“What I love about it so much is that it is flexible to my needs. Because of where I live, I need to travel a lot for medical reasons, and I don’t have to miss out on lessons,” shares Caitlin. King’s InterHigh isn’t her first online learning experience, but she recalls having to miss lessons completely in other online schools and not being able to access class recordings.

At King’s InterHigh, Caitlin can watch the lesson recordings and catch up on everything, which is particularly useful if she has medical appointments or other commitments during the day. As Caitlin is currently using a wheelchair, it would be challenging to move around from class to class in a physical school. At King’s InterHigh, she can focus purely on learning.

Caitlin studies on our Middle East timetable (GMT +4) and starts classes in the afternoon because it fits better with her daily routine. “I can go help my dad on the farm early in the morning before it gets too hot and then come back in, have lunch, relax, and get ready for school.”

Farming families like Caitlin’s can choose between our Middle East and Southeast Asia timetable so children that enjoy working on the farm can do so comfortably when it is cooler, typically in the morning, without missing classes or accumulating learning gaps.

The 24/7 access to library lessons also helps them catch up with their learning or even take on other courses. For example, Caitlin did our Film Studies course, available in the UK timetable, all via library lessons, and she admits it worked really well for her.

King's InterHigh student Caitlin

A high-quality curriculum delivered in innovative ways

Thanks to her teaching background, Heather knows what a high-quality curriculum looks like and how it should be delivered. She is very impressed with the high-quality curriculum King’s InterHigh offers, which enables Caitlin to get all the knowledge and skills she needs for her academic and career path.

“As a teacher, I’m aware I don’t want Catie to have gaps in her learning and I found that it can happen in bricks-and-mortar schools very easily. It’s quite hard for students to catch up so that’s an area that King’s InterHigh is way ahead of. It’s just all there and available.”

After attending one of our taster sessions, where parents and prospective students are taken through what our lessons look like and all the learning, communication, and reporting tools at their disposal, Heather was convinced of the high standard of education in our school. “I would encourage parents who are reading this to sign up with a taster session like I did.  I was blown away when I first saw it and realised the powerful use of AI in a very constructive way.”

The use of technology in lessons, along with the different options available for communicating with the teacher and other classmates in class, made Caitlin feel much more comfortable participating in class activities. “It’s like being in a classroom. And it’s amazing because you can ask questions more easily without disrupting the whole class.” Caitlin finds the anonymous polls particularly useful. “Students attempt more because they aren’t afraid of getting it wrong in front of the whole class.”


Continuous support

Aside from the high-quality education she can access, Caitlin is particularly happy with the continuous support she receives from teachers, especially her Reflect teacher. “When my medical condition started, I asked my Reflect teacher to give my other teachers a heads up of what’s going on, and he has been absolutely amazing.”

Caitlin finds it really helpful to have a Reflect teacher who she can meet up with weekly. He also took her through how to use all the technology during onboarding. “We weren’t thrown in the deep end, we had everything we needed from the beginning.”

Being a teacher was a huge help for Heather when homeschooling Katie and her other children. Still, teaching three different year groups and jumping between the role of teacher and mum are significant challenges. Even when Caitlin was enrolled in distance education, the heavy workload required a lot of parental involvement.

The difference with King’s InterHigh is that I don’t have to perform the role of home tutor. There are teachers who guide her on everything she needs to do. I’m in the role of a supportive parent.”

Heather finds the to do list and the regular emails from teachers to update on areas for improvement or achievements particularly useful. She can then be straight onto Caitlin, congratulate her, and back up that reinforcement without having to take the teacher role.

Caitlin and her mom

“Some of the best money I’ve spent in my life”

The private school fees in New South Wales can reach almost $50,000 annually, with the median cost being just over $11,000. Not all families are able to comfortably enrol their children in private education, especially as these fees continue to rise. Compared to a private school, King’s InterHigh is much more cost-efficient.

And it’s not just about one isolated number. According to Heather, the cost-effectiveness of King’s InterHigh comes from the fact that it releases her to do other tasks in the farm, around the house, or for her business. “This is some of the best money I’ve spent in my life,” she shares.

When her children were being homeschooled or enrolled in other schools, Heather had to take a very active role in their learning journeys to keep on top of all the workload. This expectation for mothers to take on multiple roles simultaneously can easily become self-deflecting.

“I want mothers to see that there is another option. If it is within your means, you want to consider King’s InterHigh because of the high-quality and its ability to give you back your life.”

Stress-free socialisation

Socialisation is often a concern for parents considering online education. Heather always made sure Caitlin and her siblings had an active social life, even when attending physical school. Caitlin visits the youth centre when she’s in town and goes to the library often to participate in activities. “We make a priority to go to interest groups and proactively make sure there are opportunities for socialisation so that works for me.”

Interestingly, she felt a lot of pressure to socialise while attending physical schools, as she was required to take part in extracurricular activities. Both Heather and Caitlin agree that King’s InterHigh fits into their pace of life a lot better and offers opportunities to make connections with classmates without the pressure she felt in previous schools.

Caitlin, King's InterHigh student, participating in a library activity

The cornerstone of a fruitful career and a happy life

There is no one-system-fits-all when it comes to students’ learning journeys, that’s why Caitlin has been able to benefit from our adaptable approach at King’s InterHigh. The flexibility Caitlin gets doesn’t mean a compromise on the quality of education or school support – very much the opposite. “I’m convinced that not many people in rural Australia know what we are talking about when we say Caitlin is doing online school. The teachers are well-trained, and the level of education, technology, and support is unmatched.”  While Caitlin is enjoying her time at King’s InterHigh, she’s already thinking about the future: following her mum’s footsteps, she aims to attend university to become a teacher – potentially even in an online school.

If you’re interested in enrolling your child in our online school or want to learn more about how we teach, book a call with our admissions team.

By King's InterHigh

King’s InterHigh is an independent British international online school. Offering Primary, Secondary and Sixth Form education, we cater to students from age 7 – 19 who are looking for a high quality British education delivered in a way that revolves around their lifestyle.