Get Bucks has an interview with the founder of an online school – Wey Ecademy – that is reapplying to the DfE for free school status…
This radical new school is bound to raise eyebrows among teachers and parents and could herald the biggest change to our education system in centuries.
For this school is based entirely in virtual reality.
A free school called Wey Ecademy allows children to learn entirely via e-learning modules on a computer. The child can choose for themselves when to start their studies each day. If the weather is bad they need not brave the elements, or even wear a school uniform.
If they have a question for the teacher rather than risk embarrassment by raising their hand in class they can send a message across the worldwide web to a teacher, who can send a typed response back instead.
The move is bound to do wonders for cutting school traffic, playground bullying, the spread of headlice and coughs and colds. But is it really healthy in a child’s development to be locked away in front of a computer screen instead of mixing with peers and teachers?
The online school, registered in Buckinghamshire, recently applied to the Department for Education for free school status. It is hoped it will give parents the opportunity to home school their children even if they are not confident of teaching youngsters themselves.
They were refused, but given advice and are now aiming to apply again for 2015.
Businessman and former teacher Tom Scott is part of the board pushing forward with the concept.
He has already helped set up free schools in Southwark and Harpenden after 25 years in business and a career as a science teacher.
The board also includes Dame Erica Pienaar, an executive headteacher until her retirement.
The group boldly state they hope to ‘reshape education in England’.
Mr Scott said: “The concept of the Wey Ecademy is to create a school entirely online…
The school may be based online but there will be qualified teachers presenting lessons in the morning and checking on pupils as per a normal school day.
The difference is all interaction is done by online messaging.
Mr Scott said: “They can decide to approach the teacher direct but there’s no embarrassment when asking questions because they can just send a message.”
…The school argues by using the online method in their morning lessons, students learn twice as quickly.
“You spend half as much time than you would in school, because there’s no burden of travelling,” said Mr Scott. “We found by doing that we could teach in the morning so they are free in the afternoon to do other things, whether that’s go over the lessons, homework or sport.”
Sport poses an interesting dilemma. When a child is not based at school, but alone there is no face-to-face interaction or chance to get away from the computer.
Mr Scott argues this is not the case, as sport is delivered in the afternoon and the concentrated morning teaching means pupils can focus.
Wey has teamed up with SportEngland and professional clubs and societies in the area too…
As for exams, Mr Scott says GCSEs wold be taken at a nearby centre, possibly a school, while A levels which include coursework may have to be completed at residential centres or schools, as would the exams themselves.
Lessons include video streaming and there is a closed social media experience where Wey students will be able to post messages and have a status – similar to Facebook. Though Wey will monitor and keep everything on a system to make it a safe place…
Wey Ecademy now is preparing for the next round of applications…
Well, what do you think of this? Is it something that would work well in conjunction to more traditional types of homeschooling or do you have concerns? Could it be a glimpse at the future of schools? Please let us know in the comments or via Twitter…
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