6 reasons to consider InterHigh
If you're one of the many parents considering an alternative to mainstream education right now, virtual school InterHigh could be the answer to your prayers.
When Covid first struck back in March we all recognised the impact the pandemic would have on lives, families, businesses and freedoms. What it took some time longer for us to comprehend was the impact that lockdown, home and social distancing would have on our children.
Since the kids returned to school in September, many schools and teachers have risen brilliantly to the ongoing challenge but few parents would disagree that a huge chasm has opened between the education now offered at top (often independent) schools and schools with little funding and less tech-savvy teaching. Now that Covid cases are rising in schools and increasing numbers of children having to isolate at home – 22% of secondary school pupils were absent the week of 16 November, according to Department of Education figures – there’s an ongoing anxiety amongst parents about how far their kids have fallen behind academically.
No surprise, then, that the UK has seen a huge increase in those taking their children out of mainstream school – reports from The Local Government Association says that between September 2019 and September 2020, some local authorities, such as Kent, saw rises of almost 200% in registrations for elective home education. The pandemic has also seen a rise in interest in online schools too – Google searches for the term’ online schools’ has risen by storming 625 per cent since this time last year.
Personally, I don’t have even the smallest drop of patience to properly home-school my kids (I’d have to miss Homes Under the Hammer for starters – not acceptable under any circumstances), but I think for certain children an online school is a smart alternative. I reviewed my first online school, InterHigh, over the summer, and was impressed, so if you’re thinking about your educational options now, here’s a reminder of why you should keep it in the mix.
It’s all about the tech
Covid taught us that tech is our friend in education, not the foe. Whilst independent schools had the funds to rise well to that challenge, ‘interactivity’ is still an issue for most of us, and no mainstream school will do tech as well as a school whose raison d’être is online. InterHigh students don’t use physical exercise books (pah, so 2019!), they have interactive activities in a 3D virtual world. My favourite piece of tech is the ‘engagement metres’ that all staff can watch while they’re teaching – they can see minute-by-minute who hasn’t been interacting in the class so they can tweak their lesson or re-engage the student. Plus there are virtual labs, online assemblies and games to make virtual learning fun and engaging.
Online schools provide a potential lifeline for kids who struggle in the mainstream system, whether that’s due to anxiety, exclusion, SEN difficulties or teachers that just don’t ‘get’ them. While it’s a bit counter intuitive to think that a virtual school would be particularly strong at pastoral care, it’s actually fundamental to online schools whose calling card is their ability to help these ‘difficult’ kids. So InterHigh offers health and wellbeing coordinators allocated to each year group, a pastoral leader and one-to-one counselling in specific circumstances. Bullying seems almost non-existent here – I spoke to two children, 13 and 15, both of whom had been victims of bullying at mainstream school, who talked happily of their friends at InterHigh (including kids from Cayman Islands, Sri Lanka and Hawaii – 40% of students are from overseas) and were thriving.
They do socialise
I think as parents we’ve been very slow to understand the social side of tech. It was only when I handed over the Xbox to my 11-year-old during the first lockdown so he could ‘play’ with his friends that I understood that it was a valid way to connect. As adults socialising online isn’t for everyone (remember how quickly those horrific Zoom parties fizzled out?) and no-one would proclaim it as better than the real thing for children either. That said, having friends in a virtual environment actually is much more native for kids, so can feel quite normal for them. Like other schools InterHigh has classrooms, libraries and social areas where the kids congregate, they message each other during lessons and work together in small groups. And when lockdown isn’t providing an almighty handbrake, the kids catch up for the annual InterHigh away weekend together where – pass the smelling salts – they meet in person.
Whilst I love to boot my kids out the front door at 7.30am sharp every morning (“and don’t come back until 6pm!”), other families need more flexibility. Perhaps children who are also professional athletes or actresses and need to fit school around their training and travelling schedules; maybe families are battling illness and unusual hospital hours. Maybe behavioural quirks mean that certain children learn better at certain times. This is the glory of online schooling – it fits in with life, everything is videoed and stored, and kids respond to the flex with a maximum of four hours tuition a day.
No need to sell a kidney
Over the last six months there’s been a sharp rise in admission requests to private schools from parents looking for more attention and support for their children. But the average private school costs £15,000 per year, up to a buttock-clenching £35,000 for the elite few – well out of reach for most families. With no sweeping driveways and rugby teams to field, InterHigh charges a maximum of £3800 per year (GCSE and A level exams are additional costs). Still a serious sum, but certainly more affordable. There are also 10 scholarships a year granted to high achieving students and some means-tested bursaries.
There’s huge choice
Well what do you expect when you’re teaching over 3000 students?! There are 167 core subjects, taught by 140 full time staff, so if your fussy child has a craving to experience STEM, excel at Film Studies, or learn Business they might just have found their happy place.
WIN! Want to win a year’s free flexible tuition at InterHigh worth a cool £3800? Enter here in seconds.