HomeBlogChoosing an online school – How to get started
Not all online schools are created equal
Once you’ve made the decision to give online schooling a go, the main thought in your mind will be trying to find the best online school for your child. No matter whether your child is in primary or secondary education, the online school that you choose will be incredibly important. The quality of online teaching varies a lot between schools, and we have done everything that we can to ensure that the teaching we provide is of the highest possible quality at all times. We have put together a great article full of things that you should take into consideration when choosing an online school, and this means that you will be confident with the decision that you make when the time comes.
There are lots of ‘online schools’ popping up at the moment, as many people are trying to make the most of the gap in the market that Covid-19 brought when it forced school closures in the UK early in 2020. However, although many of these might look like a tempting option, the fact is that lots of the staff who work at these online teaching facilities don’t have much experience of doing so – if any at all. We make sure that the team we have around us are made up of staff with lots of experience of delivering education online, meaning that they’re well equipped to deal with any unique issues that might arise. Before you send your child to an online school, you should make sure that the school is well established enough to provide everything that you’ll need.
Check Staff Qualifications
Here at Cambridge Home School, we believe that each and every pupil should be taught by teachers with the highest possible levels of knowledge in their subjects. This means that our staff are educated to at least MA level and many are educated to PhD level, which is something that many online schools cannot offer. Lots of the newer online schools make the most of the fact that you don’t require any kind of qualifications to teach online – but we know that this isn’t good enough. We want the best for your child, which means that no member of staff can work for us unless they fit with our very strict criteria.
There are lots of different online schools that you can choose from, and the way that material is delivered differs significantly between them. For example, some online schools simply offer pupils slideshows to work through, with questions at the end, which means that to a large extent children are teaching themselves. However, we provide properly planned, live, interactive lessons for our pupils, meaning that they can talk to not only our teachers, but also to the other pupils who are taking the same course. In addition to this, we offer flexibility to those who may need to view information again, or who might not be able to attend lessons at specific times, by making all of our live lessons available to be viewed later. This flexibility of learning means that each pupil can make the most of every single lesson, with the ability to revisit material where needed.
No matter whether your child attends traditional or online school, class sizes are hugely important. We know that your child deserves a high level of attention while learning, and because of this we work only with small class sizes online. Others schools have been known to run classes with up to 200 pupils per session, and clearly this doesn’t give them the chance to ask questions or to interact with the teacher in an effective way. Each pupil has different needs and a different style of learning, and this is worked with best in small class sizes, which we strive to provide at all times.
Assignments and Homework
Simply providing lessons for pupils isn’t enough. All pupils learn in different ways, and this means that simply sitting and watching a lesson isn’t going to be an effective way to learn for everyone. With this in mind, it is important that a range of other activities are available in the form of assignments and homework. You should check that this is the case before signing your child up to any online school provider. Our team at Cambridge Home School for example offer assignments where pupils can work together in groups, as well as various types of homework tasks that they can complete in their own time. All assignments are marked, and feedback will be provided to each pupil, meaning that everyone has something to work on to help them improve. This attention to detail means that no child is left behind, and everyone is given the chance to thrive.
Opportunities for Educational Progression
Schooling is important for children of all ages, but it is key that you also look to the future and consider what could be next after online schooling has been completed. For example, for many paths such as attending college or university, exams will need to be taken. If this is a route that your child would like to go down, it is vital that the online school that you choose will support this. Our team can offer formal examinations, and currently have a 100% A-C grade achievement for school leavers. Our results mean that our pupils have access to some of the best universities in the world, with many going on to study at the likes of Oxford and Cambridge. An online school that doesn’t work towards curriculum-based exams may not be able to achieve these futures for their pupils.
Communication and Support
When you’re learning online, it can be a lonely experience when communication is managed badly. Therefore, you need to choose a school that values communication and support, and will never leave you feeling as though you’re unsure about anything. Our team, for example, provide feedback to pupils regularly, and are available to pupils or parents to chat about anything you may need. This kind of personal attention to the pupils and parents shows our dedication, and you can be certain that we will do everything within our power to ensure that your child thrives, and reaches their full potential.
With the plethora of online schools and courses now available to parents, it is more important than ever to learn what actual parents have to say about the school. Many new schools are a risk because they have not been established long enough to receive a good number of independently verified parent reviews. Look for Trustpilot or Trustspot reviews as you know these are reviews that are collected by a trusted third party and that they are from actual parents who have their children at the schools. Frankly, reviews from people who don’t have children attending schools are misleading and often plain wrong. Social media reviews, Facebook, Google, Mumsnet are less reliable because anyone can leave a review even if they have never studied at the school. Competitor schools, social media trolls and people politically opposed to all forms of home education, regularly post negative and factually incorrect reviews on any website that is open to the general public. So don’t be fooled
Free trials and Open Mornings
The best online schools want to showoff their schools and are very happy to invite parents for open mornings and free trials. We strongly recommend that parents try the school before committing their child’s education and thousands of pounds. See the teachers teach, participate in live interactive lessons, meet school leaders, view the extensive lesson recordings. Only after this due diligence can you be sure that the school is right for your child.
Accreditation and due diligence
Check if the school is a proper school accredited by the UK Government. Don’t be fooled by lots of badges and awards at the foot of a webpage. Is the school a UK registered learning provider? Is the company registered at companies house? Has the company been registered for a long time? Is the school financially secure – look at its financials? Parents need to be confident that the school will be around in the future and not likely to collapse.
Also, parents should understand the difference between examination board accreditation and school accreditation. Any company can register with an exam board, and if they meet the criteria to run an exam they can receive their accreditation. For example, somewhat confusingly, Cambridge assessments and other exam boards, have accredited some online correspondence course providers (not schools) that claim to be schools despite their not offering children any taught classes at all so be careful. Examination boards (Pearson, Cambridge Assessments, OCR, AQA etc.) accredit schools to run their exam centres – they are not guaranteeing to parents that the school is good or that it is even a school – many exam centres are church halls.
Cambridge Home School is the most established selective independent school in the UK and it is listed on the UK’s register of learning providers as Cambridge online education ltd. The school is proud of its history and the part it has played as a pioneer of online schooling in the UK. The school welcomes all parents and their children to its FREE open mornings – the only way you can truly know if the school is good is if you try it! This is perhaps why the school is the only online school that is over-subscribed and has a waiting list.
Consider that the best schools are never easy to get into!
If you enjoyed this article, please feel free to share it on your favourite social media sites.
How do I select the best online school for my child?
Choosing the right online school for your child requires careful consideration. Focus on the quality of teaching, the experience of the staff, and the resources available for students. It’s advisable to read articles and guides that could help you in making an informed decision.
What qualifications should online school staff have?
The qualifications of the teaching staff can greatly affect the quality of education. Opt for schools where teachers have at least a Master’s degree or even PhDs in their subjects. This ensures a high level of expertise in the subjects being taught.
How important are class sizes in online schools?
Class sizes are a crucial factor in both traditional and online schools. Smaller class sizes are often preferable as they allow for more personalized attention and interaction between teachers and students. Avoid schools that run large classes, as this might hinder effective learning and interaction.
Do online schools offer assignments and homework?
Yes, comprehensive online schools provide additional activities beyond live lessons, such as assignments and homework. These are essential for reinforcing the material and offering varied learning experiences. Make sure to check that assignments are graded and feedback is provided.
How can I confirm the credibility of an online school?
It’s important to look for independent reviews from trusted third parties like Trustpilot or Trustspot. Also, see if the school is registered as a UK learning provider and check its financial stability. Attend open mornings or take advantage of free trials to get a firsthand experience of the school’s offerings.