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Bubble99 Fri 11-Jul-08 22:55:41

And anyone else who might be able to share some experience.

We're looking at joining Inter-high to help home ed our DS1. I'm fairly sure it is your DS who is with an internet school? If so, can I ask you a few questions?

AMumInScotland Sun 13-Jul-08 19:48:45

Hello, I just mentioned it on your other thread - I looked at "Threads I'm on" before going into topics!

Yes, DS is with InterHigh - he's just come to the end of Year 10, his first year with them. He was in school up till a year ago, so went straight from school into Interhigh, which I assume is what you're planning.

Fire away!

Bubble99 Mon 14-Jul-08 21:34:15

Thanks smile

I suppose the first and most important question is, does he enjoy it? Does it keep him interested?

How do the lessons work? I've read the info on their site, but I wasn't clear on how they communicate - do they use mics?

I think you've said in the past that he's studying for IGCSEs, where will he sit his exams?

Also, is it possible to meet his teachers in RL?

That's all for now, I have a loooooong list, but I don't want to frighten you off!


AMumInScotland Tue 15-Jul-08 09:38:23

No worries, I don't scare that easy! But I'll be away for 2 weeks from Friday morning, so if you want more info to help you decide, then feel free to give me a long list in one go.

He does enjoy it, and finds it interesting - I asked, and he said he would recommend it to others, which is about as good as it gets I think. He likes having teachers, and learning in a class - we looked at the possibility of correspondence courses before we decided, but he was not comfortable with the idea of learning in that kind of way, and much prefers a school type of system. But that is coming from a background where there were no problems in school, no issues with authority or having a timetable or homework or any of the "school" way of doing things.

The classes use both the headphones and mic, and also Instant Messaging on a part of the screen (do you use that at all? It's like a Chat thread with everyone logged on at the same time). Some of the teachers will write up on the board and talk round it, others do more like a Powerpoint presentation. And they ask questions and the children can make comments and ask for clarification etc. Apart from not being in the same room, it's much like any other kind of class really.

They set homework at the end of the lesson and mark it before the next one, so they can check that the class have got that point before moving on. All the homework is done on Word etc and uploaded onto the school system, then marked copies are returned. And all the marks for your own child are there on a screen so you can see how things are going.

Exams - you need to find an Edexcel exam centre which does iGCSEs. Supposedly they were setting one up in Scotland when we started, but I haven't pursued that yet. I will do after the summer though! InterHigh (or Edexcel themselves) can tell you where they are in your area. It's obviously more complex than school as you have to make the arrangements yourself (and pay exam fees), and the exam centre probably isn't as handy as the local school would be. We're pretty central in Scotland so if there is a Scottish one we should be fine, but we have the prospect of going to stay somewhere in the North of England otherwise.

There isn't any provision for meeting the teachers in RL, as they are spread around the country. There is going to be a weekend away for children to meet each other, but I don't know if any of the teachers would be going to that.

AMumInScotland Tue 15-Jul-08 09:53:45

I think the pros and cons have been pretty much what we expected when we read through their info, there haven't been any nasty surprises during the year.

On the plus side, you have specialist subject teachers, you're working in a class, there's an agreed syllabus, and you're working towards recognised qualifications.

But against that, you have a set timetable for the day/week/term/year so you don't get the flexibility that many Home Edders have.

You have to provide supervision for your child, so you don't have the "childcare" that school gives.

You get some social stuff just from dealing with classmates and different teachers day in, day out, plus they schedule a weekly common room and end of term activities. But you'll want to make sure he gets time just being with other kids as well.

Although they cover a good range of academic subjects, there's no choice, and they don't cover all the other things you might get in school - creative subjects (art/music/drama), physical and practical subjects (PE/woodwork/cooking), and things like PHSE and RME. Of course with Home Ed you don't have to cover all those as "subjects" and schedule them, but you need to give your child suitable opportunities in those areas, so you can't treat an internet school the way you might an ordinary school and just assume they'll provide a broad and balanced education without you having to add anything else.

Wow, that sounds like a long list of negatives! It's not meant to be - I think they do what they do very well and we are happy with them. But you need to know what they do and don't cover and be clear about what you're getting.

Shanm Sat 09-Aug-08 18:15:35

I hope you don't mind if I contribute to this thread as I know quite a lot about it having been involved in online schools for 3 years now. I can speak both as a mum and as an experienced home educator and online teacher,

There are 3 main online schools UK based, Interhigh, First College UK, and Briteschool.

I worked with Interhigh to help them set up back in 2005. They offer a good competent tutoring service which suits parents very well if they want no or limited involvement - for example full time professional parents who prefer to hand over the job.

However I wanted something very different than this for my son. I wanted a real, personal learning community and I'd been thinking of creating an online school of my own so that is what my husband and I did. It's been a very successful project all round and our son is now a junior teacher in the school - it's very much a family business.

As I go on with more info please bear in mind I am writing this purely to be helpful. We are very successful, with no need to recruit new students. In fact very soon now we will have to run a waiting list. So none of this is an attempt to sell you our services!

Our strong emphasis for First College UK is the relationship between school, student and parents. Everything is done based on careful discussions and 3 way agreement.

I think it's not really accurate to call it a school - it's like a halfway house between home education and school. There are classes., teachers, homework - the basics of "school" but otherwise it's very different, a lot more flexible and fun.

The 3rd school Briteschool was started by a very good teacher who worked with us for a while then started his own project. They too seem to be very good and particularly suit families who like working with higher levels of software than we do - the sophisticated stuff.

SUBJECTS, EXAMS We all provide much the same range of subjects up to IGCSE level - check the websites for full details.

As noted in the previous posts it is a case of finding an exam centre (we do have one for Scots students) and we help you do that.
Edexcel IGCSE is considered slightly higher level than ordinary GCSE.

MORE TIME AS A FAMILY In terms of weekly flexibility we leave Friday free so you can have a long weekend as a family. Mon - Thurs classes run 9.30 - 2pm and we also run shorter terms/ longer holidays than ordinary schools because our small classes of 10 -15 mean we can get more work done.

WHO USES US? We get quite a few home educators who want to work in education partnership for the secondary years. We also have health reasons, dyslexia, and Asperger's get on very well. Bullying/ confidence support is a big area. expats international (Europe and Asia), and separated families with 2 homes. High flyer students who need more personal attention.

SOCIAL SKILLS & SUPPORT We put a lot of emphasis on social skills and this ensures lessons run well with good concentration. But we also see it as our duty to help with social knowledge and awareness so we have a big Philosophy and Society seminar every Monday.
It isn't quite right to say that lessons are pretty much the same as ordinary ones because we can talk to a student privately while a class is running which is a big advantage to answer extra questions - and check or push a student not paying attention.

SUPERVISION DURING CLASSES Nor due you need to constantly supervise during classes. Most students don't need it unless we alert you that they are not paying attention properly. Usually they get on very independently and just need an adult within calling distance.

EXTRA ACTIVITIES We recommend that a family arranges a club or two after classes so the young person mixes with others as a group. That usually means woodwork, art, dance, sports etc.
It's important to ensure good sessions of exercise per week obviously.
One of our policies is to have long breaks between classes to encourage getting up and moving about.

FRIENDSHIPS Our students make good friends with each other. We encourage cooperation and personal connection. Many talk to each other on our instant messenger, or by private email, or phone. Eventually this leads to personal visits.

FEES Currently fees are £198 a month though not for July and August so averages £165 a month over the year. Discount for year £1,880. I just read that families pay around £1200 a year for various things at ordinary school so without fares, uniforms etc this works out quite well.
We don't trap you in an expensive contract. You can start with a month's fees and leave on a month's notice.

NEGATIVES Trying to look at the negatives, occasionally a student finds they just want to return to ordinary school because they prefer a physical classroom. But this happens very often with students who hated school or feared it before coming to us, and then with us they get stronger and happier, able to stand up for themselves and get work done efficiently.
Sometimes parents have taken a child away to place them at a prestige school. We HATE this! It means we do all the hard work of cherishing the child into happiness and success only to have them taken away. Grrr!

Students who have left have almost always been keen to stay in touch with us and their friends in the school.

I think the main problem area is very young students around 10 who often can't cope with a one hour class. So we usually only take 11yrs upwards. (ADHDD usually causes a lot less trouble in a gentler situation.)

I can honestly say that where a child stays beyond a trial period, say 3 months or more, every student we have had has made impressive progress. We have had glowing comments by education authorities and everyone is amazed at how good our exam support is.

I hope this all helps.

borrega Sun 26-Jun-11 14:22:41

Message deleted by Mumsnet.

SDeuchars Sun 26-Jun-11 15:31:00

Borrega, you are responding to a post that is almost three years' old. Do you know about the Home Ed exams wiki and Yahoo! list? If you go to the wiki, it has a link to the list. Many people on there are doing all sorts of IGCSE and some of those may be able to give you advice on Art.

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