Written by: Melissa McBride (Sophia’s Chief Education Officer / Co-Founder)
It is time to reimagine education.
There is a growing debate this week in the UK and widening concerns focused on the Department for Education‘s plans to help students catch up on crucial education missed due to the COVID pandemic.
From the additional allocation of an extra £1 billion of funding allocated to the National Tutoring Programme to reports on extension of the school day hours for students from 8am until 6pm.
As a career educator and former Headteacher, I must admit I was a sceptic of the NTP due to government funding originally being allocated to the programme rather than directly to Schools.
Putting it bluntly, school’s know their students best and they also know what resources are needed to make the biggest impact on their students’ learning and achievement. I am relieved that schools will now receive the next round of funding directly, but can’t help but feel a huge amount of funds and time has been wasted by not putting this in place to begin with.
Lengthening the school day to make up for lost time is a separate matter altogether. This will no doubt leave students tired rather than inspired. It is not the time spent in lessons but rather the quality of lessons and student engagement that matter most. Students need time to develop their passions and interest through pursuits not measured by curriculum learning; when the government talk about more time learning they are actually speaking about more time in English Maths and Science. Where is the value in the creative subjects, physical activity, life skills, humanities? Or simply in the joy of enabling children to be children.
Children in the UK are already spending far more time in school based settings and pushed along an accelerated learning path faster than those learning in other countries around the world where educational outcomes already far exceed those achieved in the UK.
Facing what is already a global teacher shortage, these new plans greatly risk driving teachers from the profession in droves. Without great teachers who are passionate, engaging leaders of learning, we risk failing an entire generation of students on a catasphrophic scale.
The pandemic may have paused education and temporarily disrupted student learning, but it has also opened doors to new opportunities to reimagine a different future for education in a post pandemic world. We have the chance to develop a new model of learning which redefines the term ‘School’ to mean more than a building that grouped people together according to criteria like dates of birth, and which forced learners to move together in the same direction at the same time.
It is time to challenge education to seize the day. To foster an education ecosystem which makes space for many models of learning; traditional, alternative, blended, hybrid, online, so that we may truly develop individuals. To no longer accept the status quo, to make the changes required in education so that learning is more personal, flexible and student centred.
This is why my team and I, a team who share over 50 years of educational leadership and teaching experience at ‘outstanding schools’, believe so passionately in the model of education that we are creating at Sophia High School. As pioneers in full time online education for students from as young as age 5, we are determined to set the bar for outstanding practice in a digital learning ecosystem and embrace our role as the trailblazers, the round pegs in the square holes, the change makers.
There is a growing voice of students, parents, educators who are demanding change and we are excited to work alongside these voices to transform education.
We won’t accept going back. This is an opportunity that we cannot afford to waste. It is time to reward innovation and protect not just our present but our future.
This is Education Reimagined!
To find out more about our Pioneering approach to education at our online school, be sure to visit our website at www.sophiahigh.school
And to find out why not all online schools are created equal – please read our latest blog by Sophia High’s Director of Education