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Teachers from Top UK Private Schools say Period of Online Learning Helped to
Close the ‘Achievement Gap’ for Children who Need More Time to Learn

As a parent, you are likely to worry how much your child has been impacted by the pandemic in terms of their education, and I'm sure in the past, many of us have worried about how much attention your child pays in class. So it's really interesting to hear Hugh Viney, Headmaster at Minerva’s Virtual Academy, a virtual online learning school comment on the impact of the pandemic on teaching “We are definitely hearing a lot more traditional schoolteachers talking up the benefits of online learning. Learning has never been a ‘one size fits all’ approach, it just doesn’t work that way. "

Teachers from Top UK Private Schools say Period of Online Learning Helped to
Close the ‘Achievement Gap’ for Children who Need More Time to Learn

(picture: Hugh Viney, Head Master at Minerva's Virtual Academy)

"During lockdown every child was exposed to learning online and had the flexibility to find their own path to achievement. In the classroom everything happens at once, for every child in that moment, regardless of ability, even though we are all different and work at varying speeds, so the potential to feel ‘not quite so bright as the person sat next to you’ is far greater and can be counterproductive to achievement. Every child should have the opportunity to be their ‘exceptional self’ regardless of how learning is delivered.  If a child needs more time to achieve the same results, give them more time.”

Minerva’s Virtual Academy has recently made several more appointments of teachers who have each chosen to move away from roles at traditional schools, in favour of teaching pupils remotely.  The rising number of teachers embracing new learning technologies, suggests that the recent period of online learning is impacting the future of education on so many different levels.  

As well as coming from several state schools across the country, a number of teachers have joined the Academy from top UK private schools including Wycombe Abbey in Buckinghamshire and Bethany Independent Boarding School in Kent, to name a few.  For many teachers, the pandemic has also uncovered gaps in educational success for those children who simply need more time to learn.

Katy Williams previously taught Geography at Bethany Independent School in Kent for eight years and has recently joined the Academy, she spoke about why she chose to move to teaching online, 

“Aside from the greater flexibility that teaching remotely affords, the pandemic and prolonged period of school closures really forced me to re-evaluate just how important teachers are and how creative they have been to adapt to all of the technological and educational change and still deliver engaging learning. 

 I love teaching and remote learning has opened up a whole new world for me both from a career and lifestyle perspective.  I began to feel that digital learning would play a much wider role in education in the future and, I could also see that we had only scratched the surface in terms of its potential to deliver more personalised learning to children.  I could see that the role of the teacher was changing, and I knew that online education was something I wanted to be part of.  During lockdown, I could also see first-hand, how many pupils were benefiting from having more time and space to learn, without the time-driven constraints of the traditional classroom setting.”

Lawrence Tubb has spent 16 years in top UK boarding schools, he is Deputy Headmaster at Minerva’s Virtual Academy and was previously ex-Head of Music and Pastoral at Wycombe Abbey, he said:

 “The flexibility and accessibility I have witnessed through online learning is hugely inspiring.  Continuity of education is crucial right now and pupils should be encouraged to flourish emotionally and academically in a way that supports and nurtures achievement. While some will absolutely thrive within the realms of the traditional classroom, my journey into online learning has highlighted many different perspectives around how learning is delivered and how it can be used effectively across both traditional and online schooling in the future.  We are seeing greater self-reliance in terms of pupils taking ownership of their learning and the greater confidence that comes from children who are learning successfully at their own pace. There is still much for us to uncover, but few would disagree that virtual learning in education is here to stay.”

Emily Hawkins is also a teacher and mentor at Minerva’s Virtual Academy.  Speaking from experience, she said: “Probably one of the biggest areas of change I’m seeing while teaching online, is that pupils are able to follow a lesson at their own pace, the benefits of which have been emphasised during the recent period of remote schooling.  The truth is children don’t all learn at the same speed regardless of ability.  For some pupils, the 55-minute lesson format simply doesn't give them enough time to really absorb the information they are given. Online schooling gives them the chance to re-read, re-watch and re-write any material as many times as they need to, to ensure they properly understand the lesson; if they don’t, they can ask their teacher for more support.”

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