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Micro-schooling

(41 Posts)
educator2020 Thu 13-Aug-20 11:17:29

Hello!

I am doing some market research into micro-schooling - the concept of replacing the normal school day with a 'micro' school setting, in which 5-10 children attend a group where they receive lessons from a qualified primary school teacher.

The benefit of this type of schooling is that the curriculum can be adapted to the needs of individual children as the class is so small. Of course, there is also a benefit of the 'school' being able to remain open during mainstream school closures with no disruption to parental work schedules. Due to the very limited amount of pupils, the chances of contracting COVID-19 are far less and social distancing and 'bubble creating' is much easier.

I would love to know your thoughts on this idea as I am a qualified teacher myself with a Masters in education and have the space at my home to set something like this up, if the demand is there.

What are your concerns about a project like this? What benefits do you see in having an option like this available in your area? And what would you see a reasonable cost would be for child care and education of this kind?

Many thanks in advance, looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

Rachael

OP’s posts: |
GolfForBrains Thu 13-Aug-20 11:44:10

A lockdown like we had in March would have affected this just as much as regular schools.

Safeguarding - would you be the only adult there? And what happens if you are ill yourself?

Social development - school is more than just academics.

Facilities - music? Art? PE?

Helenluvsrob Thu 13-Aug-20 11:47:27

Safeguarding minefield

FlibbertyGiblets Thu 13-Aug-20 11:58:01

Prob the Scottish island schools are a decent model, maybe look at how they are set up?

educator2020 Thu 13-Aug-20 13:00:34

Thank you so much for this feedback!

Safeguarding wise - yes I would be the only adult there but would welcome parent helpers for certain events - like sporting trips/field trips. As a teacher, I have full DBS and am on the update service. OFSTED would of course need to check and register my home before I accepted any number of children in to teach - similar to day-care centres which are set up in a home.

Social development - I completely agree, which is why this would be a good alternative to 'lockdown' learning or online classes - as the children could learn from each other in their 'bubble' - whilst having a qualified teacher to guide their learning.

The likelihood of contracting COVID myself would be much lower than if I was working in a normal school, due to the significantly decreased contact I would have - but of course, if this occurred I could stream online lessons which the children could access from one of their homes together temporarily.

Facility wise, Art and music can be catered for from home just like in a classroom in a school, PE wise I would make use of local parks and try to get parents involved.

The target audience for something like this I imagine would be a group of parents who know each other and want their children to learn somewhere safe whilst receiving the benefits of a bespoke curriculum in a very small class setting.

Do you have any other concerns or suggestions?

Thanks again!

OP’s posts: |
sirfredfredgeorge Thu 13-Aug-20 13:28:34

The benefit of this type of schooling is that the curriculum can be adapted to the needs of individual children as the class is so small

I can see that with 1 or 2 students, but surely the range of needs within 10 children is unlikely to be different from the range of needs within 30, so yes in an hour each student could get three times as much individual attention, but only spread out through the lesson, not when they need it (either at the start to set up the work, or at the moment they hit trouble, or in the review - all of those are likely to be at the same time as much with 10 students as 30.)

And generally I cannot see how a tiny school is remotely viable or interesting as a parent, and part of the motivation is purely working within an assumed legal lockdown "bubble" risk, so that does not strike me as sensible for you - what if the size of the bubble is decided as 1 less than your pupil number, what if it's fine, but it only applies to educational institutions with particular types of properties (you say you have space in your home, but don't you need planning change of use to become a school, or are there limits in numbers etc. that avoid that - but then you have more COVID regulation risk as it's not a place of business?)

educator2020 Thu 13-Aug-20 14:06:20

sirfredfredgeorge

*The benefit of this type of schooling is that the curriculum can be adapted to the needs of individual children as the class is so small*

I can see that with 1 or 2 students, but surely the range of needs within 10 children is unlikely to be different from the range of needs within 30, so yes in an hour each student could get three times as much individual attention, but only spread out through the lesson, not when they need it (either at the start to set up the work, or at the moment they hit trouble, or in the review - all of those are likely to be at the same time as much with 10 students as 30.)

And generally I cannot see how a tiny school is remotely viable or interesting as a parent, and part of the motivation is purely working within an assumed legal lockdown "bubble" risk, so that does not strike me as sensible for you - what if the size of the bubble is decided as 1 less than your pupil number, what if it's fine, but it only applies to educational institutions with particular types of properties (you say you have space in your home, but don't you need planning change of use to become a school, or are there limits in numbers etc. that avoid that - but then you have more COVID regulation risk as it's not a place of business?)

Yes, I see your point. Do you think it would be better to keep numbers to a maximum of 5 pupils? Would this be more interesting? Or is your concern more about the concept as a whole - could you see any parent being interested in something like this or similar as an alternative to mainstream school during this time?

Many thanks for your feedback - I'm finding it really helpful!

OP’s posts: |
MrsMcTats Thu 13-Aug-20 14:45:53

Apologies I'm not understanding the concept. This would be a set-up purely while COVID and lockdowns are a risk or a long term proposition instead of mainstream school? It sounds a bit like the bubbles I heard of in the US, where wealthier parents were setting up learning groups for a group of friends.

If we are in lockdown, families aren't allowed to mix, so I don't understand how your bubble concept would work, as it's still multiple families. I guess it is a similar concept to groups that homeschooling parents use, so perhaps look at their websites for costs.

educator2020 Thu 13-Aug-20 15:35:00

MrsMcTats

Apologies I'm not understanding the concept. This would be a set-up purely while COVID and lockdowns are a risk or a long term proposition instead of mainstream school? It sounds a bit like the bubbles I heard of in the US, where wealthier parents were setting up learning groups for a group of friends.

If we are in lockdown, families aren't allowed to mix, so I don't understand how your bubble concept would work, as it's still multiple families. I guess it is a similar concept to groups that homeschooling parents use, so perhaps look at their websites for costs.

Thank you for your message!

Due to the nature of social distancing in schools and the uncertainty this will inevitably bring for parents and children, I wanted to see if there was any demand in my area for an alternative schooling system while such measures are in place.

At the moment in the school I was working in, there are pages of new regulations which need to be followed to ensure distancing and 'bubble' maintaining. By having a smaller class in an independent setting, the anxiety created by attending a large school in unfamiliar circumstances would be reduced. So even without a second lockdown, schools will not be back to 'normal' in September and perhaps some parents may look for alternatives during this time.
There is also the issue of 'catching up' with work missed, and in such a small class, this will be much easier to facilitate - as it is more like private tutoring, but for a range of subjects rather than one at a time.

The idea is similar to the pandemic pods in the US, yes - but will alleviate the need for parents to direct the education and allow them to maintain work schedules without the demands of childcare.

OP’s posts: |
MrsMcTats Thu 13-Aug-20 15:49:02

Ok, clear now! If school is compulsory from September and parents pull their DC out to be with you in the short term, would they be fined or have to give up their school place?

Otherwise, it seems like a good alternative for parents who are particularly concerned about a return to school. Although wouldn't focus too much on the 'work schedule not affected' as any lockdown would still mean they'd have to homeschool. It's more the benefit of being a considerably smaller bubble, less staff, less parent interaction at school gates etc.

Newdaynewname1 Sun 16-Aug-20 18:49:02

10 isn’t far of regular prep school territory (ours have 40 per year group, 2 teachers and 3 TAs, so 8 per adult...
I assume it would be cheaper, but the limited social interactions and absence of specialist teachers would make it a no-go for me.

PatriciaHolm Sun 16-Aug-20 22:48:42

If you are providing full time education for 5 or more children of compulsory school age, you would need to register as an independent school (assuming you are in England or Wales).

www.gov.uk/independent-school-registration

You would need to show that you will meet the required standards on quality of education provided
spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of students
welfare, health and safety of students
suitability of staff
premises and accommodation provided
information provided
handling of complaints
leadership and management of your school

as well as having premises inspected.

This would be quite onerous for such a home based, small setting I would imagine.

viques Mon 17-Aug-20 09:34:23

If you only have five children in the setting I imagine you would have to charge them a minimum of £12,000 to provide you with any reasonable income taking into account national insurance, income tax, liability insurance, materials, wear and tear and other expenses. For a primary aged child I would want a bit more bang for my bucks than sitting in your conservatory or garden shed with you and four other children.

I imagine that the sort of parent who would be interested would also want extended hours to cover work commitments , how would you feel about having a working day from 8.00 am to 6.00 pm with no break?

hedgehogger1 Mon 17-Aug-20 11:05:27

Would you not be better offering tutoring sessions to home educated kids? What you're talking about is setting up a school which would have a lot of paperwork and I assume you'd have to be inspected!

reefedsail Mon 17-Aug-20 13:56:14

I teach a mixed age group class of around 8. I don't like to have a range of any more than 4 years, ideally 3, chronologically or academically, in the group. More than that and it can't really be treated as one class.

I think you would need a TA. I don't even want to think how draining it would be not even to be able to step away for 10 minutes all day.

educator2020 Mon 17-Aug-20 15:35:47

Thank you all for this invaluable feedback.

I have taken on board the advice given and limited the number of children to a maximum of 6. I have applied for OFSTED accreditation for myself and my home and to the DfE as an independent school. I have even needed to apply for food safety accreditation so I can use my home! Seems like overkill for 6 children but must be done and useful to create policies in case the idea scales up.

If all this accreditation is successful, does this ease safeguarding concerns? Or are there still some worries about the idea?

I completely agree with age groups and the need for a TA - I would ideally start off with 3-4 children of a similar age and help them catch up on what they have missed from not being in school and then scale up from there - hiring another person and looking at different venues, whilst keeping classes very small (maximum of 6)and curriculums flexible and bespoke - in keeping with the 'micro-school' concept.

What do you think would be a reasonable cost for bespoke schooling of this kind? On a daily basis/termly?

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

Rachael

OP’s posts: |
PatriciaHolm Mon 17-Aug-20 16:17:49

In terms of costs to parents, you would need to work back from your costs, at least in part. Paying 2 full time salaries = £50k ballpark, at least, once NI etc included? Then all the other associated costs of maintaining the required taxes/equipment/standards for a school.

I can't see how for 5 children your charges could be much less than £15k a year, which puts you up there with the most expensive prep schools.

Newdaynewname1 Mon 17-Aug-20 18:58:47

I would expect you to be significantly cheaper than a prep, as you offer a much narrower curriculum without specialist provision or private school facilities. so maybe about 8000 a year maximum? For termtime 8:30am to 3:30 pm.

Newdaynewname1 Mon 17-Aug-20 19:00:37

Unfortunately i can’t see this working financially.
Also take into account that your setting would be attractive for some SENDs needs children, more so than neurotypical children. Are you qualified (and is your setting ready) forcthem?

reefedsail Mon 17-Aug-20 19:03:38

You could pay a TA by the hour and might not need them all day.

However, as a parent (who pays school fees) I would probably only be happy to pay around 3k a term for what you are describing- which would be half the cost of an all-singing prep school.

reefedsail Mon 17-Aug-20 19:06:58

I think if you were approached by the parents of children with significant needs who felt you could meet needs better than a mainstream school (which is likely), you could reasonably add the cost of additional 1:1 into your fees. Some 'ordinary' independent schools do this.

reefedsail Mon 17-Aug-20 19:11:14

Are you sure you wouldn't just prefer to work in a specialist setting? I lead in a setting where I have a huge degree of autonomy, but much less ultimate responsibility, and earn more than you will probably be able to take in as profit from fees.

gobananasgo Mon 17-Aug-20 19:17:30

Sounds interesting surely a child minder can have up to 6 under 8's.. I know the ratios are different in a school teacher, but would they be at home ? I think the set up would be more for infant age school age. Like a mini private school, I think it sounds great. Trips could be tricky, but in theory could work. I would choose a private school if I had the money for the small class size and personalised approach.

My one concern would be how a large age range would work? Or would you take them all the same age ?

educator2020 Mon 17-Aug-20 21:35:09

This is all very useful, thank you everybody!

What do you think of charging a daily rate for this? To accommodate for parents who want their child to have the flexibility of attending my school with the extra attention they will get so that they can catch up on the 6 months worth of school missed/temporarily - and whilst Covid distancing measures are in place in their usual school?

This way, I could charge a daily rate and then offer after school care and clubs for busy parents at an extra cost. Naturally, this idea would initially be aimed at affluent private school parents until it got off the ground and scaled up.. what do you think?

OP’s posts: |
admission Mon 17-Aug-20 22:14:44

Sorry but to me there are two issues that make this not viable. Firstly if you are paying yourself what a teacher costs then you are looking at £30K minimum with all add on costs, so I do not see how this will ever be viable with 5 pupils.
Secondly you are talking about daily charges so that the pupil can be with you for 6 months and then return to their normal school.Sorry but that is simply not possible. The pupil will be removed from the original school register to go on yours and then the probability is that they would not be able to return to that school as it will be full.

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