Schools consider ‘virtual’ A levels that don’t need classroom teachers

Schools all over the country have shown interest in online A-level courses that can be delivered without a teacher in the classroom, Tes can reveal. The education company Pearson is launching a “virtual” Spanish A level later this year, and is already thinking about expanding the courses to a range of other subjects including French, maths and physics.

Pearson has a well-established “virtual schools” business in the US, Connections Education, which currently teaches 65,000 primary and secondary-aged students who are studying full-time online while at home.

Sharon Hague, Pearson’s senior vice-president for schools, told Tes that the company was interested in bringing virtual courses to the UK to help schools “manage their time and budgets” and maintain “the breadth of their curriculum”.

The company said it had received interest in the courses – which are supervised by teaching assistants but do not require a teacher to be present in the classroom – “from schools, MATs and sixth form colleges all over the country – coastal regions, London, rural towns”.

For A-level Spanish, the virtual course will take the form of five hours of learning a week like a traditional A level. 

One hour will be spent in a small-group online lesson, delivered by a Pearson teacher who has qualified teacher status and is approved by the disclosure and barring service. For the other four hours, the students will work though “guided interactive and engaging learning resources”.

In addition to the small-group lesson, students will have a weekly one-to-one online session with the teacher, and they will also be able to contact them throughout the school day via email or chat messages if they have a question.

Read more about the online A levels Schools consider ‘virtual’ A levels that don’t need classroom teachers

The shape of things to come? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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