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December 28, 2021
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When you hear the words “online school,” your mind may turn to the at-home education many children have received during the COVID-19 pandemic. In reality, however, a true online school is vastly different to the emergency remote learning many experienced when their classrooms were brought online.
There’s no doubt that remote learning has been a struggle for many children and teens over the past two years. Around the world, some young people have had trouble dealing with a lack of teacher guidance, poor online resources, and loneliness away from classmates. Like many fellow parents, you may have struggled just as much yourself. Supporting your child through lockdowns and restrictions can be tough enough without needing to act as a backup teacher too.
That said, while students have been logging into virtual platforms and trawling YouTube for resources throughout the pandemic, the “online schooling” many have received is nothing like life at a purpose-designed online school. In fact, these virtual schools have been a high-quality, flexible, individualised alternative to traditional schooling since long before lockdowns began. While remote learning during the pandemic was set up to provide temporary, emergency access to education, online schools are created to give students the best possible learning experience wherever they are.
Our online school, King’s InterHigh, is one prime example. Established in 2005, now with well over 15 years of experience, we’ve taught the British curriculum to over 10,000 successful alumni across the globe, all through the internet. But what is it that makes schools like ours so different to the remote learning many traditional schools have been offering?
Let’s take a look at some of the key ways we bring our students the best possible online learning experience.
One of the main reasons pandemic remote learning has been such a struggle for students, parents, and teachers is that you can’t simply shift traditional education to a virtual space. Teaching methods and learning activities that work wonderfully in person, for example, often fall flat online. On top of this, some schools lack the training, digital resources, and know-how to create a comprehensive school environment on the internet with just a moment’s notice.
When remote learning began, many teachers unfortunately found themselves building, changing, and trying to fix their methods week by week. In turn, this created a haphazard, inconsistent form of education that failed to teach students everything they need to know. Even now, as several countries consider a return to remote learning in the wake of new coronavirus variants, numerous teachers are still unable to make the system work for them.
King’s InterHigh, on the other hand, has been designed from the ground up for online learning. Instead of trying to make in-person methods and activities work digitally, we’ve carefully developed and optimised our teaching since 2005 to create an effective online model for learning that students truly love.
At King’s InterHigh, students attend live classes in a variety of subjects every day, just as they would in a traditional school. While some schools have made use of Zoom and Google Meet classes through the pandemic, note that there’s more to an effective online class than simply lecturing over video. To ensure our students stay focused and enthusiastic in every lesson, our teachers follow a proven learning model using a wide variety of interactive tools and activities.
We also consistently enrich our curriculum at King’s InterHigh with new and innovative technologies that take education to the next level. Labster, for example, is a virtual simulation software where students can conduct science experiments through their screens. Another exciting tool we use is Merge Cube, which uses augmented reality to let students hold virtual 3D objects in their own hands. One of the most recent platforms we’ve introduced to our learning is Flipgrid, where students and teachers can hold invigorating discussions through short videos.
All of this is made possible by our passionate, knowledgeable, and experienced teachers. Alongside a degree-level education and national Qualified Teacher Status, our learning leaders also become experts in online teaching with a dedicated course. Even the best teachers in traditional schools can’t always transition seamlessly to teaching over the internet, so it’s important to us that all our staff know how to create the best possible virtual experience for every student.
While we all associate schools with education, that’s not the only purpose they fulfil. For centuries, schools have also been a place where young people come together to socialise with their peers. Not only is this socialisation crucial in keeping students happy, it also helps them develop the communication skills they’ll need to succeed throughout life.
Naturally, students around the world struggled greatly when they lost their social lives during remote learning. While many teens were able to text with friends or play online games after school, the experience simply isn’t the same as sharing each school day with a network of peers.
That’s why it’s so important to us that King’s InterHigh is a warm and thriving community as well as a school. Over the years, we’ve implemented many ways for students to chat with each other and form lifelong friendships, just as they would in a traditional school setting. Many children even find the social experience more enjoyable at online school, as some have experienced issues with bullying or anxiety around school.
At King’s InterHigh, we’ve created online year-group common rooms where students can get together with children their own age and interact with each other. Alongside chatting with each other, students can share activities and participate in masterclasses together, split off into groups to discuss their own passions and interests, and more. Here, strong bonds and close friendships are easily formed between likeminded pupils.
Our older students can also log onto Yammer, a social networking platform where students can safely connect with each other to chat and make friends with King’s InterHigh learners all around the world. All in all, we make sure students always feel like part of our wider community, where we’re connected through shared values and experiences.
We offer a wide range of clubs and extra-curriculars for students to take part in. Giving students the chance to pursue their interest, these online get-togethers provide the ideal space for conversation and friendship. Our clubs this year cover all sorts of interests, including art, chess, creative writing, babysitting, technology, Mandarin Chinese, journalism, debate, and medicine.
Journeying through childhood and adolescence isn’t easy for today’s young people, but COVID-19 has created an even more difficult environment to grow up in. Over the past few years, numerous students have struggled with their emotions, their growing identities, their health, and their relationships with family and friends. Sadly, a lot of traditional schools have been unable to factor support for wellbeing into their remote teaching.
At King’s InterHigh, our students’ wellbeing is a top priority. We recognise the difficulties today’s young people are facing, and we work to support every student through these challenges as they learn with us.
Our Safeguarding Lead works alongside our Health and Wellbeing Team to provide students with support, guidance, and nurturing whenever they need it. All students are also looked after by their group tutors, who hold weekly workshops and tutorials as well as one-on-one sessions where students can discuss life, goals, and more.
During safe periods out of lockdown, we also provide in-person opportunities for our students to meet up. This past summer, for example, our A Level Science students spent three days at our Inspired partner school Reddam House Berkshire to take their practical exams, listen to university talks, and spend time together on the grounds. As an Inspired school, we’re able to leverage opportunities with over 80 of the best schools around the world, bringing King’s InterHigh students global exchange programmes, summer camps, and international conventions.
Ultimately, a great online school revolves around its students. When traditional school teachers are doing their best to make remote learning work during a tumultuous time, individual students’ needs often get overlooked. In most cases, there’s been little flexibility when students need it the most, and teachers have struggled to keep track of every child’s progress.
On the other hand, online schooling at King’s InterHigh has been specifically created to fulfil each student’s needs and potential, no matter their background, lifestyle, location, or aspirations. Across the board, we make sure students can blaze their own trails, guiding them with the attention they deserve.
While all King’s InterHigh lessons are taught live, we also record every class, uploading them to a central student platform. 24 hours a day, seven days a week, our students can watch any of their past lessons at any time. Alongside serving as a great resource for exam revision, recorded lessons also give our learners the flexibility to learn on their own terms. Whether a student is feeling unwell or they have an outside commitment to attend to, they’re always free to take time away from the school day without falling behind in their education.
Data gathered in 2018 found that the United Kingdom has the largest primary school class sizes in Europe, and figures for secondary school classes aren’t much better. On top of this, hundreds of thousands of pupils are currently learning in particularly large class sizes. This year, for example, over 350,000 Key Stage 2 students (aged seven to 11) had over 30 pupils in their class.
Giving each student enough attention in classes this large isn’t easy at the best of times, but it’s been even more difficult during pandemic remote learning. Without the right levels of individual focus, students are more likely to fall behind with their educational targets.
Our Explore lessons at King’s InterHigh are capped at a maximum of 20 students to ensure everyone gets support and guidance to meet their goals. Tutor groups are also made up of around 20 students, allowing tutors to keep an eye on every child’s wellbeing and personal growth.
Whether your family is struggling with remote learning during the pandemic or you simply want your child to reap all the benefits of online schooling, we’d love to welcome you to our community at King’s InterHigh. We accept admissions at any time throughout the year, and enrolment takes just days to complete. To learn more about how your child could excel at our school, book a call with our Admissions Team, contact us through our enquiry form, or join us at an upcoming virtual open event.
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