Online Schools: Studying for I/GCSEs and A Levels

Which UK-based schools offer an online education for secondary and sixth form students, and how are I/GCSEs and A Levels being taught remotely worldwide?
Online Schools: Studying for I/GCSEs and A Levels
By Carli Allan
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How much does an online secondary school cost?

The cost of an online education varies considerably, just as fees fluctuate between private schools in the UK or international schools overseas. You’ll almost certainly be paying far less than you would for a UK independent school, and rightly so, but be aware of hidden additional costs. At some schools, such as iBOS, all course resources are online, while others such as King’s InterHigh will have a recommended book list that you’ll be expected to buy.

Just as you'll find at many bricks and mortar private schools, there are also exam entrance fees to pay. Exam fees are paid directly to the exam centre and you should expect to pay upwards of £100 for each IGCSE exam and around £250 for A Levels, depending on the subject chosen. So, while students can access a UK private education for a fraction of the cost of studying on campus, you will need to factor in the extra cost of exam fees. This could be around £1,000 for nine IGCSEs and £750 for three A Levels.

Also, look at payment terms; schools such as King’s InterHigh offer the flexibility of a rolling contract where you can pay every half term, while others will ask you to commit to an annual contract. 

To offer an idea of what an online secondary education will cost in the UK, here's a snapshot of some annual and termly fees for 2021-22.

Online School Admissions Termly Fee Annual Fee
King’s InterHigh Years 10-13   From £4,500
Harrow School Online Years 12-13 £5,250 £15,750
Minerva's Virtual Academy Years 9-11 £2,500 £6,500
Cambridge Home School Online Years 7-13   £9,000
Pearson Online Academy UK Global Years 7-13   £9,000
My Online Schooling Years 7-13   From £324 per subject
Lady Evelyn Independent School Years 7-13 From £1,165 From £3,495
Oxford Education Online Years 7-13 £3,300 £9,000

Are online schools accredited?

There are more than 20 full-time online schools in the UK, and they are currently unregulated. While they are legally allowed to operate as they fall under the category of homeschooling in many countries (including the UK), they are not currently accredited in the UK. However, the UK is launching a voluntary Online Education Accreditation Scheme (OEAS) in early 2022 which will accredit schools that meet certain standards based on the legal expectations of independent schools in the UK.

In 2021, a small number of schools took part in a pilot OEAS inspection by Ofsted, the UK school inspectorate, including King's InterHigh, Sophia High School, iBOS and Apricot Learning Online. Ofsted says that the Department for Education is “looking at how children, parents and local authorities can be assured of the quality of education and appropriate safeguarding arrangements through an online schools accreditation scheme”.

Schools may also be members of COBIS (Council of British International Schools) and/or the Council of International Schools, both international networks of schools.

Next: How do online schools ‘teach’?

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