Online Schools: Getting a Primary Education

Which UK-based schools offer an online education for primary-aged children, and how is teaching delivered to students from Years 1-6 worldwide?
Online Schools: Getting a Primary Education
By Carli Allan
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Online Learning and Parental Involvement 



How involved do parents need to be in their child’s online education at a primary-level? It’s important to get off to a strong start. Rather than leaving your child at the school gate, you’ll sit with them through an online induction to explain how to access timetables, lessons etc; it’s something Sophia High School calls the Sophia High Google Bootcamp.

David McCarthy, Director of Education, Sophia High School, explains:

“In the younger phase of Key Stage 1, parents often support their children during the initial week of school with being near to the computer in order to help with any technical difficulties, but we actively encourage (and insist) that as our youngest learners develop confidence and settle in their digital roles, that parents step back and let their child take the lead.

“At times, students may need support to ensure they are keeping to their timetable and to submit work, but in our experience, our youngest learners are already digitally native and in no time are telling their parents what to do and how to use the tools!”

If all goes well, and as children get older, parents play more of a facilitator role than anything else. And what they should be looking for with an online school, is strong lines of communication. You want to know that concerns will be quickly addressed, and you want to have regular updates on your child’s progress.

You should expect the online school to have an online parent portal, which provides constant information about your son or daughter’s progress, attendance feedback and assignments. This is often supplemented by regular written feedback from teachers. 

Commenting on the parent portal at King's InterHigh, Mark O’Donoghue, CEO Inspire Online Schools says:

"Probably what is most different about an online school and a physical school is that all grades, assessments and feedback is available for parent as well as students to see on parent and student portals. It’s quite easy to keep updated on progress and identify challenges and celebrate successes."

Just as traditional schools are using apps ranging from ClassDoJo to ClassCharts to communicate with parents, online schools are using more sophisticated technology to keep mum and dad aware of what goes on in the virtual classroom.

Like many features of online schooling, it won't work for every family. However, for families who see the advantages of an online education, the improvements in parental engagement is another plus.

We offer the last words to some parents, who shares their positive and personal experiences of an online education.

Elena, a Key Stage Two parent at King's InterHigh says:

“We joined in September 2020 and my daughter loves it. She is a selective mute. It means she cannot speak to certain people or in certain circumstances. That included our offline school, where she hadn’t spoken to anyone at all.

"At King’s InterHigh she can easily chat with other children and the teacher, because communication can be done through chat! She finally doesn’t feel abandoned at the lesson and even made a lot of new friends!”

And Hugo, a father of a Year 2 student at Sophia High School, shares:

“We always thought a school with a tailored approach capable of focusing on the key challenges, whilst stretching the areas of high performance or greater aptitude would be ideal for our little one, and this is exactly what we have found in Sophia and its teachers.

“Being an online school, they would face challenges like keeping children's attention and truly engaging with them, however, the fantastic body of education professionals which are able not only to handle the class very well but also identify areas of focus or additional development make this journey seamless."

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