[Category: Before Class]
An online secondary school’s approach to 21st century learning
by Leon Hady
Let us return briefly to 2005, a busy year for UK education although what year isn’t? A ‘New’, Labour -powered machine churns out a succession of high-profile education reforms. Grant maintenance and School Specialisms promise to fundamentally restructure UK schools. ‘Excellence in Cities’ directs national focus to the urban centres and the chronic underachievement of the young. In contrast, and far away from this city centric hullabaloo, is the sleepy, Welsh village of Crickhowell, population 2063. Resident entrepreneurs, Paul and Jacqueline Daniell, are, coincidentally, pondering many of the very same issues but find a radical, home-grown solution to them and so InterHigh School, the UK’s first fully online secondary school is about to be born.
InterHigh was conceived as a centre for Personalised Learning. At our centre is interest in the personal journey of individual students and a determination to support each one through to outstanding progress.
It is the needs and desires of each student which constitute the starting point for our work.
This personalised approach results in students having a broad and flexible curriculum without imposing the constraints of compulsory courses. Technology is used to free students to spend less time in a formal classroom and to learn more efficiently. For example, all lessons and supporting materials are captured and made available through a central learning library. This provides a 24/7 learning environment which is extensively used and highly prized by students.
Personalisation requires an intensive and ongoing harvest of performance data. Efficient collection and collation of progress information supports an incrementally fine-tuned individual learning plan. A previously arduous process, recent investment in LMS/SMS technology has considerably boosted our capacity to personalise guidance.
Outstanding progress is interpreted broadly at the school. Progress certainly includes measuring traditional academic progress but it is extended to incorporate learning skills and cognitive progress too. This detailed tracking of cognition is, we believe, unique to InterHigh School and is made possible through assessment via the MyCognition portal. Importantly, this information informs us of barriers to an individual’s learning prior to the delivery of teaching and this knowledge is used to devise pre-emptive interventions.
We began by casting our minds back to 2005 and the formation of InterHigh School. Since that time much has changed but not our guiding philosophy of genuine personalised learning which remains at the centre of our strategy. InterHigh began with 25 students but now has nearly 900 full-time students and continues to thrive but as for the ‘New’ Labour’s projects of the same year, well, the rest is history.
Written by Nick Leney, Assistant Head Teacher at InterHigh
Connect with author Nick Leney on LinkedIn
Visit InterHigh School on Facebook and @InterHighEd, the UK’s first online school