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Their words: what kids really think of online school

What if you're too scared to put your hand up in class, too exhausted to get out of bed, struggle with SEN, or too busy playing golf? Four kids explain why they made the switch and what they think of life at InterHigh, an online school.

No uniform, no detentions, no classroom… Online school is a world apart from mainstream school but for some kids, it’s given them an education that they would never have had with the conventional route. 

We spoke to four kids who have left mainstream education to study at InterHigh to ask why they made the leap, and – never mind the parents – find out what they think of life at an online school.

THE SPORTSMAN

Dan, Year 9

Dan with two of his many golf trophies

“I started online learning because I want to be a professional golfer and have played since I was six. Going to school 8am-4pm every day would eat into my training and competing time. I’m on the golf course four to five times a week and a round takes four hours. It’s different to mainstream school but the environment is better because teachers aren’t wasting time quietening everyone down, and you don’t have distractions. You can privately message teachers if you don’t want to put your hand up. All my teachers are really great and I feel like I can have better contact. If I email them out of hours they come back to me straight away. 

“I still feel like I have a class and I play with a lot of them online. My friends are from all over the world. You learn a lot a lot more about other cultures. I’m doing better at online school than I was at a normal school, but I have joined a gym because obviously we can’t do PE at InterHigh. It helps that my Mum can oversee what I’m doing and help keep me organised, plus she knows way more about what I’m learning then she ever did with my siblings. Also, if I have a golf lesson or tournament and can’t attend a class, I just send an email to let them know and I watch the recording, so I don’t miss out.”  

THE ACADEMIC

Leana, Year 13

Leanna 

“I was in mainstream school until Year 10 but we lived on an island on Lake Victoria in Uganda and getting to school was difficult. I enjoy online school because I get more excited about learning. I sleep longer so I feel rested and relaxed and have more time to do my own thing like digital art. There aren’t the restrictions of normal school like taking off your nail polish or wearing uniform. We don’t have any bullies – some students come from environments where they were bullied, but in our classes no-one feels scared or judged to ask questions. 

“I don’t recommend online school to everyone because some kids hated online school during the pandemic, but we have outgrown the one size fits all mentality concerning education. When it comes to online exams, the teachers are compassionate about problems like internet connection or printers jamming – they’re used to it. Once when I went to do an exam in an internet café, it was closed, but I didn’t feel stressed because I knew my teachers would understand. It feels more like you’ve started independent life and it suits me. After InterHigh I’m taking a gap year then hoping to do engineering at university, which I’ll do at a traditional university because it’s quite a hands-on, practical degree – hopefully Zurich or Munich.” 

SOCIAL ANXIETY

Jo, Year 7

Jo and his sister Charlotte are both at InterHigh

“I was six when I came out of the main school system because I didn’t enjoy it. I didn’t have a majorly good experience with friends in real life, and school was too busy and pressured for me. I just didn’t fit in. Play times and break times are supposed to be fun, but it can be difficult. At online school I can still make friends by chatting and gaming with them online and I have also met them in real life. I also enjoy classes more because I can ask the teacher questions using the chat function. It feels like being in a real class but with less pressure. It’s so much better than real school for me. 

“My sister goes to InterHigh too and she says it is easier to be yourself without being judged. She’s doing her A-Levels then hoping to go to university. I did the chess club for a bit and you could play online matches and tournaments, and also art club when I was younger. You need to be organised. I set reminders and my Mum helps me with my timetable.”

A LONG-TERM ILLNESS

Alexandria, Year 11

Alexandria

“I became quite ill with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and I missed maybe a year of school – there were days when I physically couldn’t get out of bed. But with online school I can join the lesson even from bed if I am having a bad day, and Mum doesn’t need to be picking me up from school all the time. They also record all the lessons so I can watch the lesson it later if I miss it. At school you get a detention for missing homework but at InterHigh, you get an extension if you need it. They understand your situation. I’m motivated because I want to get good grades but at school I wouldn’t even be taking exams. Also, I’ve split my GCSEs over two years – I couldn’t have done that at school. 

“You have to be focused and methodical so you can be trusted to get on with lessons – it wouldn’t suit everyone. We have a to do list on the learning platform but you do have to be motivated. I have bad social anxiety and I was distracted even if someone was whispering. But online all I see is the teacher on the screen so I can concentrate much more. I can also email teachers and they will check in if I am not contributing as much as normal. It has helped my confidence levels and allowed me to do so much more – and I have friends all over the world.” 

If your child isn’t thriving in mainstream school, why not take a look at the alternatives

Leana, Jo, Dan and Alexandria all attend InterHigh School, one of the UK’s leading online schools which offers Primary, Secondary, IGCSE and A Level courses.

Find more ideas here

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